Where to begin? The embarkation process was very good. The lines moved smoothly and we received assistance because my wife walks with a cane. That was certainly appreciated. And I appreciate the changes that have been made to the life boat drill. Sitting in a restaurant and listening to a briefing is better than standing on the promenade deck wearing a life jacket.
After that, things got a bit "sketchy" as the young people say. The food in the buffet was room temperature no matter when you dined. The pastry tasted stale. The cantaloupe was a couple of weeks short of being ripe. The stroganoff tasted like it was made with tough round steak and the noodles were under-done. The hand-carved roast beef was gristly. The breakfast sausage was lousy. However, the omelet station did a great job under enormous pressure.
The exception to this was the Steak House. Even with the upcharge of $35 per person, this is well worth the expense. My wife and I both had the 14 oz. New York Strip and it was wonderful. The service was flawless. We ate there twice, and appreciated the help of the Sommelier in selecting a bottle of wine. She was very professional. In fact, all the staff of that restaurant gave us great service. We should have eaten every evening meal there.
The entertainment left a lot to be desired. The stage shows were very good, but the other acts were subpar, almost amateurish. The exception to that was a group called Simple Friends that played in the Ocean Plaza. They were a very pleasant surprise. They played almost non-stop throughout their sets. The musicianship was astounding, especially the guitarist.
We noticed a difference in the guest/staff interaction. Previously we would be greeted by every staff member we encountered but this time it was about 50%. The staff didn't seem to be comprised differently but the interaction was not same as it was a few years ago.
Overall, we were disappointed in this cruise. We chose it because we live only a few hours away from Galveston and we could drive to the boat instead of flying. That was a plus, and the embarkation was very good. But life on the boat was no so good. We have been on other cruises with Carnival and other cruise lines. This experience was not so good.