I will keep this review short but thought it necessary as there are so many negative reviews. I travelled with a female friend and my 6 year-old daughter on a pre-Christmas 8-Day cruise. We visited St. Thomas, Antigua, Tortola and Nassau. This was my 8th CCL cruise and my 13th overall.
We arrived at MIA on the day of departure and checked-in at the CCL desk at the airport. This was very quick and easy (yay Carnival!). When we arrived at the port, there was a separate express line and we were onboard within 15 minutes. Our cabin was ready as well. We had a Cove Balcony and absolutely loved it! The ship's new design is fantastic.. loved the new colors and artwork.
After exploring a bit, I wanted to sign up for the "Cheers" program however my roommate cannot drink because of high blood pressure. I went to Guest Services (and there was NO line!!! That's a first for me). I explained that I was aware of the policy that all adults must purchase and explained our situation (including a doctor's note stating no alcohol allowed with prescribed medication). I was told they would send the request and let me know when head office had replied. After about 2 hours I was advised my request had been approved and they proceeded to charge my account the Cheers amount and removed all of my prior drink charges (again, yay Carnival!).
Our room steward was a male which was a first for me. He was mostly efficient but not as personable as past female stewards. No complaints but no praise either.
I found all of the staff friendly and helpful (with the exception of the Iguana Tequila bar by the pool). Our dining room waiters were wonderful and Ken the Maitre'D went out of his way to accomodate a special request from me.
I booked the Chef's Table and Chef Joaquin was great! He accomodated my allergies and was very friendly, informative and took care of our every need. The food was fantastic! I highly recommend this experience to anyone!
We were assigned early seating in the Blush Dining room. Food was wonderful and HOT. Once or twice I received something not to my liking and they replaced it with another choice immediately. The Prime Rib was the best I've had on any of my cruises (hats off to Joaquin!). The lamb was also great (and I don't like lamb very much).
We tried the soup/salad bar in the Ocean plaza for lunch one day and it was quite good.
Breakfast in the Marketplace was great - I got my eggs (any way I liked) from the omelette station each day. There was quite a line but that's how it is at any restaurant I've been to on land as well so no surprise. The bacon was crispy, the potatoe cakes yummy and plenty of fruit and other choices.
We ate at the sushi restaurant one night and it was wonderful as well. You have to try the Wagyu short rib! They accomodated my request for vegetarian sushi even though it was not on the menu.
Lunch another day at Red Frog Pub was OK but I think I got a little sick from the curry empanadas. The wings were a hit with my daughter and the other little tidbits were pretty good.
Guy's burgers were outstanding! The staff friendly and efficient.
The taco bar was a great option as well poolside.
Carrot cake at the Ocean Plaza cafe was to die for :-)
Everyone as the casino was extremely friendly and nice. Shows were quite good and the new Latin Nights show was great (watch for that splash zone!). Hasbro Game Show was on 3 times and that was fun. My daughter really enjoyed the Juggler show.
Port disembarkation/embarkation was quite efficient (except for the dummies that can't take everything out of their pockets and have to go through several times).
The ropes course looked like alot of fun but it was too windy for me to try out. The waterpark was a bust as the water was too cold. I do love the new oval hottubs mid-ship though and they were never busy. And oooh, those round lounge beds are a dream!
The Thrill Theater was awesome! Buy the weekly pass as it's only a couple dollars more and you can go as many times as you like.
The Comedy show was quite good. However, the PunchLiner Brunch was a joke... they only performed for about 5 minutes then... done. Not impressed as I had been to previous PunchLiner shows on other ships that were about an hour.
The singer in the Ocean Plaza nightly has such an amazing voice. Liquid nightclub was pretty cool.
Kid's Club 6-9 seemed OK, my daughter had fun. However, on previous cruises she always had a favorite counsellor and I noticed this time she didn't so I'm not such what was up with that. She did want to go everyday though :-)
TV choices sucked but at least they had the Cartoon Network to keep my child busy while I got ready nightly for dinner.
Movies at the Seaside theater were good and quite varied. They had Chick Flick night, Family night, Action night, etc.
I also appreciated the new Photo layout where they had little rooms with signs of what night/event the photos in that area were from. It made it MUCH easier to find my photos (yay Carnival!).
That's all folks, a very wonderful trip!!! I'll be sailing again on the CCL Valor next month for a 10-day back to back and can't wait :-)