When we booked this 4 night cruise with 2 other families on Carnival, we knew it would be casual. Having cruised with Carnival in Oct of 2011, for the same basic cruise I knew what to expect. Fun and not the refined service like Celebrity.
The other families we went with had never cruised before and I would say agree this is a great started cruise if you live in the West.
The Good and Bad:
The embarkation was GREAT! Easy, simple and very efficient. We arrived about 11:45am and were sent to early check-in at the Queen Mary. Since we had time, we looked around the Queen Mary and by the time we left they were boarding the Ship. We have very short lines and were on the Boat by 1pm at the latest.
The Dinner Food was Super. The quality of the food was very nice. All 10 of us really enjoyed the main meals in the dining room. There were no speciality restaurants on board, so all of our dinners were there. The staff was so so friendly. When asking about wine, they could not answer basic questions. We did but a wine package and they brought the wrong bottles and we had to correct them.
The Worst Part was our Stateroom Attendant. We never say him on the first or 2nd day. We only say him after we have an issue in our stateroom and had to see Guest Services. Our phone did not work, so we needed to visit.
Second only to the Attendant was the constant row of photographers. Now each night on the main deck, you have to go by 9 unique picture stations. They were like true Carnival Barkers, trying to get you. You said no to one, and 2 steps later you were hassled again.
Carnival has gone to charging your room for all tips, for each person. There was also hair dryer, luckily I brought my own.
Overall, it was good times with Friends, but I would have to think long and hard if I would ever cruise on Carnival again. Carnival in just a year, seems to have lost some of its service.