9th cruise-2nd on Carnival. I have sailed Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian and Carnival over the past 20 plus years. I have to say each has it's own style yet all are very similar. I really can't say I favor one over the other that much. I have always received excellent service on all cruises. Yes, like anything in this world, sometimes it might be better at times than others, but give me a break, the world isn't perfect. Sometimes the service staff may not be at their best, however, I can say the cruise experience is by far better than dealing with different hotels, restaurants, airlines, car rental agencies etc. Even Ritz, Hyatt, Four Seasons etc have break downs in service at times. I believe some people just like to complain and love finding fault vs finding good. Considering the cost of cruising has actually decreased dramatically over the past 20 years, over all the quality of the experience is still a fantastic travel bargain! Yes, food quality has suffered some, but the ships are much larger. Try doing dinner parties for 1000s of people and get everything perfect. You can go to a 5 star Beverly Hills restaurant and get crappy food and service at times. The next time it will be superb! Breakfast and lunch in the dining room was great. Dinner was ok. Biggest problem was food would never come out very warm. I can't say it was due to the wait staff as the service progressed at a nice pace and was very attentive by every wait person we had.
The ships carry more passengers so the crowds and lines are somewhat longer. However, the ships now have more amenities. More food outlet choices, recreation, gyms, etc. Considering the 3000 plus people on the Glory, I have to say, it never seemed overwhelming to me.
Food: We ate all meals in the dining room except for snacks. Avoid the buffet and you will be much happier. Quality was good. Not spectacular, but good. Nice variety. GREAT SERVICE ! Very attentive. We had "Anytime Seating" and never waited long. You will wait much longer going out at your local restaurant! They even learned our names and we didn't always have our same servers! I find that amazing.
New Food Outlets added in Nov 2012- Guys Burgers--EXCELLENT Blue Iguana--EXCELLENT Taste Bar--EXCELLENT New Pizza recipe--Very Good Deli Sandwiches--VERY GOOD Fish and Chips--EXCELLENT
Room Service--Only used it for breakfast--Limited menu--but ALWAYS DELIVERED on TIME we scheduled with the door HANG TAG the night before!
Bars: NEW ALCHEMY BAR WAS AMAZING! The 2 girls there from Eastern Europe were such masters at their craft! NEW TEQUILA BAR--GREAT Rest were fine.
Lido Pool: New decor---Very CUTE--somewhat crowded, but re-done very attractive
Amber Show lounge--Just ugly decor !!
Atrium--Just ugly decor!!
Golden/Platinum Dining Rooms--Just ugly tacky decor!!
Red Sail Buffet--nice decor--very crowded--sub par food
Night Club and other bars--Ugly tacky decor
Cabins--nothing fancy, but comfortable. Great linens, immaculately clean and meticulously maintained. Comp fruit basket if you request it. Comp extra duvet--just ask. Comp use of fridge--just ask to have the mini bar contents removed. Free use of safe. Rooms well insulated from noise of adjoining rooms. Just be aware of noise from busy hallways and cabins below pool decks and lounges. Like a hotel, be aware of your cabin location to avoid noise. We were far forward and it was very quiet except early port arrivals. Bow thruster noise, line winches, etc woke us up on the early mornings !!
Cabin Corridor--Very nice, well maintained and pleasant.
Serenity Adults only area on forward deck was FANTASTIC. 2 new hot tubs, nice shaded and non shaded loungers, hammocks, sofas, and chairs. Even rocking chairs! Bar service, padded lounges and comp towel check out. What more could you ask for?
DECK 3--LOBBY DECK--Always a great place under the Life Boats in the shade to escape from other passengers. Their are loungers and benches to sit on.
Service as a whole was fantastic. Never did I feel pressured to buy a drink. We drank some, but mostly drank soda with the unlimited bubbles card for $51 including tip. No one in the dining room, pools, deck or bars ever gave us a second look for only drinking soda. I believe if you smile, act nice, treat the staff nice, you will get treated even better than expected. Same with passing crew and staff. If you smile and say "hi," you certainly will get a smile and a hello back. I swear after reading many of these reviews some passengers are just grumpy and will always be unhappy and knit picky!!!!!
Gym--FANTASTIC! Great Steam Room and Sauna Nice Life Fitness Equipment--well maintained and extremely clean. Great View from the bow of the ship.
Live Entertainment-Music--hit and miss. Some good, some not so good. The piano bar singer was just plain horrible !! LOL oh well.
Ports--St Thomas - GREAT San Juan - GREAT Nassau-Ok Grand Turk--Fantastic new development right at the dock created by Carnival. GREAT POOL free to passengers, GREAT BEACH with free loungers and shaded areas. Complete with change rooms, showers, and bathrooms. Limited Shopping. Flow Rider for a fee. Jimmy Buffet Margaritaville Franchise with strong drinks and great service pool side. Beautiful development and setting. Better than the private island ports!
Conclusion/Summary--Not that crazy about the ship. Though it was clean and maintained extremely well, I didn't like the decor in the dining rooms and atrium. Just tacky. (I believe Carnival is gradually getting away from the tackyas they continue to renovate the ships.) However, not a deal breaker as the cabins are great the rest was fantastic. Considering what I paid, the popular ports, the fantastic service, the quality of the ship, I felt it to be an excellent cruise. Fellow passengers were well behaved middle class people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Never did I feel I was on board with a bunch of "low lifes" as others have indicated. Just a good mix of people! If you don't want to meet people and are more of a hermit, then a cruise is not for you. If you like to have a good time, meet others, kick back, roll with the flow--then you will love Carnival and most mass market cruise lines.
If you want gourmet food, less people, intimate settings, ultimate pampering, then charter a yacht !!