This was our 3rd Carnival cruise, having previously been on the Victory & the Legend, and this ship was definitely not as good as the other two. We still enjoyed our week - any time in the sunny caribbean away from the snow & cold at home cannot be a bad time - but improvements could definitely be made.
First the good points -
- we had gotten a call from the upgrade fairy to change from the interior cabin we originally booked to a balcony cabin on deck 9, and I am so glad we took advantage of this! Especially with 3 sea days, we were always guaranteed a place to sit outside. Our room was on the port side of the ship which seemed to be the quieter side, so even though the balcony overlooked the lanai on deck 5, the noise level was not unacceptable, and no smoke on this side of the ship from the bbq.
- our cabin steward, who's name I am sorry to say has slipped my mind, was always friendly & welcoming & greeted us by name daily. However, and this was my own fault, do not forget to put that snoozin' sign on your door because his knock was very soft & quiet, and he walked in on us several times while we were still sleeping or napping.
- the food at the Blue Iguana was excellent, after the first few days of horrible breakfasts in the lido marketplace I discovered their breakfast burritos which saved my week. The lunch tacos & burritos were great too.
- one night they brought in a juggler named The Edge for the evening entertainment, and his show was HILARIOUS! Especially with all the audience participation, that I don't even think he had anticipated. If you get a chance to see him definitely take advantage.
- Great ports of call, Antigua was especially a favourite. We did only book one carnival excursion in Tortola (which I will mention in my area of negatives), but the island was still fabulous. Only complaint was that there were 6 ships in port in Nassau that day so the island was crazy busy.
- Consuela Ivy & her Love Souljaz band provided excellent entertainment, we stopped to watch her as often as we could. I saw her around the ship a few times too & she was always very friendly & approachable. The Superstar Live show was fabulous, it's karaoke but on a much better scale. My only complaint was that it was too short!
Now for my negative points about this ship -
- This ship definitely needs better soundproofing in the cabins particularly at the doorway. We had a child in the cabin across the hall from us that cried ALL the time, and the parents loved to stand in the hallways to chat about him & allow him to cry there for all of us to enjoy, particularly early in the morning or in the afternoon while we were napping.
- the beds in the cabins are way too hard. I remember having great sleep on the Victory & Legend & loving the beds there, but this one gave me quite a back & neck ache by the end of the week. The pillows were small & flat too.
- I hated the new electric system where you have to leave your S&S card in the slot for the lights to come on. A few times I left my room & forgot my card in the slot, and one time when I came back in the evening (hubby had his card) mine had disappeared completely. Had to go to guest services for a replacement.
- our drains in the sink & shower were both clogged at the beginning of the week, and we would have to turn the water off while soaping up or the shower basin would overflow. This was fixed after a few days though & got much better.
- Our CD Butch & his ACD Amy 6'3" were very personable, but we are not huge joiners of all the various activities so we did not see them much around the ship other than at the evening shows. Biggest complaint was that there were not enough announcements to let us know what was going on, no announcement to say that the gangway was open at the ports so we could know it was time to get off the ship, and any announcements they did have were very difficult to hear, the speakers in the rooms don't work so you can only hear them in the hallways
- the food on the ship was adequate at best. We did not go to the italian restaurant or the steakhouse because it bugs me to have to pay extra for food once i've already paid for the cruise, and the food in the Blush was not fabulous but not horrible either. But don't expect it to arrive hot, usually just lukewarm, except for the soup which was fine. The fried chicken was way overcooked - stay away from that. Our service in the Blush though was by far the worst we've experienced with Carnival. While we were addressed by name, the servers were not very attentive, we had to ask several times for bread, extra butter, working salt shakers,and drinks. Several times we were served things we did not order & then they proceeded to argue with us that we had in fact ordered that item.
- speaking of food, it would be nice if the lido marketplace would have longer lunch hours, particularly on port days. often we arrived back from our island outings starving but everything was closed except for the pizza, and there was usually long lines for that. only 2 guys working in the pizza area, and service was slow. The food at Fat Jimmy's bbq on deck 5 was fairly good but huge lineups. And they really need a free drink dispenser for coffee/tea/hot chocolate/iced tea/lemonade/water/ice on deck 5! It was a real pain to run upstairs to 10 for a drink while sitting on 5.
- while it was interesting to have so many different water & sports activities on the ship, they were mostly utilized by the kids & were very crowded & noisy. By about day 4 I was really wishing that I had booked an adults-only cruise. The serenity area was too small so good luck getting a seat there on a sea day unless you are up extra early, there is no adults-only pool, but if you hang out on deck 5 on sea days there was usually lots of seating, 4 hot tubs that were usually kid-free, and fairly quiet.
- we only did a Carnival excursion in Tortola (to the Baths) due to fear of not being back at the ship in time, and it was interesting but way overpriced, and would have been far nicer if it had been 2 hours longer as we felt really rushed
- the comedians in the Limelight Lounge were fun to watch, but that room could definitely use more & different seating. For the size of it they could have fit far more chairs in there than they have, and many times people were standing for the 10:30 show. Also, why such a big gap between the 10:30 show & the midnight show? 45 minutes between shows is more than enough time to get people in & out & tidy up. Also we wished that the comedians were there more than just 4 evenings. Having one of those nights being our last night was a waste, since we had to pack & get to bed early for debarkation
- the shows in the Ovation theatre we fairly cheesy & not the best productions I've ever seen. We went to them most nights, but by the end of the week we didn't bother. Had there consistently been at 7:15 show to watch before the late dinner seating we would have attended more often, but having to rush through dinner to watch a 10:15 show was not worth it
- speaking of the last day, I really had wished that the order of the week had been reversed, with Nassau being our first stop & 2 sea days at the end. You don't arrive in Nassau until noon (really why is this necessary???) and then were there until 7pm, so it's a huge rush once you get back on ship to shower, change for dinner, eat, pack & then get to bed early because debarkation starts at 6am the next morning! Not a very relaxing end to the week. And such an early debarkation is great if you have an early flight out, but we ended up spending 5 hours waiting at the airport for our flight since we were kicked off the ship by 10 am.
I know this sounds like a lot of negatives but really most things were fairly small in the grand scheme of things. As I mentioned it was still a great week, but I would not consider cruising on this ship again. Too big & the staff looked insanely over worked.