Drove with parents from Crossville, TN to Slidell to spend the night before boarding ship. Great hotel (La Quinta). Got up Sunday morning and headed to New Orleans to board. Dad and brother chose Fulton Garage for parking, much cheaper than Carnival parking (about $8 per day) with free shuttle to port. They dropped the rest of us off at port and checked luggage, then headed to Fulton Garage to park and rode the shuttle back.
Check in was quick and easy. We are all gold members, parents are platinum. We ended up onboard about the same time. All of us were on Lido deck, inside for us and balcony for brother. Rooms were great. We put our luggage in parents room (platinum members are allowed to go ahead and place their luggage in their rooms early) and headed to lunch. Were able to get into our rooms at 12:30 and take a short rest before life boat drill at 3:45. Thank you Carnival. They no longer require you to lug your life vest up to the deck. Just show up, pay attention to the rules, and you are out in 15 minutes or less.
Luggage was pretty late getting to rooms, normally we get ours before drill, but finally got them about 4:30 p.m. Note to plat members: You are promised to get your luggage first...but we all got ours before Mom and Dad. We got unpacked and headed up to watch the sail away, which was pretty lame compared to previous cruises.
We had great room stewards...Alit, Sam and Yam. Towel animals every night, extra pillows upon request, and they even stored our suitcases under the bed and cleaned out the fridge for us to chill the sodas we brought onboard. Note: Most rooms do not have a price list for beverages consumed in the stocked fridge. I had one bottle (airline size) on one night thinking it was about $4.00, and got the bill and it was $8.05.
One of the highlights of our cruise was the Punchliners Brunch. This is served in the main dining area on deck 3 on sea days between 9am and 1pm. The menu is amazing. We had filet mignon, omelets, eggs benedict, pancakes, breakfast burritos and so much more! Order whatever juice you like, and all tables got a basket of breads and danish treats. No reservations needed, just show up!
We are all past Carnival cruisers, and were pleased to see the 2.0 upgrade. Guy's Burgers are awesome, but they are only open until 6 pm. The Burrito/Taco bar closes at 2:30 (have no idea why) and the food is excellent. Fish and Chips we tried on the first day, but very greasy and chewy. Ewwwww. They have re-done the Pizza, and it is amazing! Thin crust, less sauce, more toppings. Had the ice cream a couple of nights, but the machines were never cleaned and dripped nasty chocolate sauce on you when you tried to fill a cone. Two things that were a big disappointment were Chocolate Buffet (big joke, a few chocolate cakes and a chocolate fountain that you had to order from) and the big "Mexican Fiesta" on Friday night which people stayed up until 11:30 for only to be served chips and salsa. Otherwise, the food at the buffet was good and the dining room food was interesting. Nobody in our group left hungry. Oh, and the room service menu has been upgraded, so more choices if you want to stay in and dine.
Shows: We saw parts of 2 shows and 1 full show. Awesome. We did not attend any of the comedy shows as we heard their "10 minute samples" during our Punchliners brunch, and none of them were any good. Best show was the blonde lady that sang in the atrium, she has a voice that is amazing. Best performance on the ship! Also the guitar player on the Lido deck who did a wonderful job with his Jimmy Buffett songs and country music.
Which leads me to this....Movies on deck. Really Carnival? Can we not get to see a movie that is at least 9 or less years old? Movies played this week included Remember the Titans, Forrest Gump, 50 First Dates, The Artist, and maybe one more. They played them over and over. Then you think you can watch a movie in your room and you are stuck with Mirror Mirror and The Hunger Games. Really? What is their entertainment schedule? Do they send an employee out with $4 to the nearest Redbox before they set sail? You can always watch CNN...which is in SPANISH most of the time.
We missed the VIP cruisers party because we did not get our invitation. Guest services was more than happy to reward us with free drink coupons (2 per person) with a value up to $5.75. You can only get a coke or child's drink for this price. Way to go, Carnival.
Another thing, if you plan on purchasing a photo, an 8x10 is $21.95. Take your own pictures.
Casino. take whatever money you have set aside for gambling and go to the cashiers desk. Tell them you are making a donation. Trust me, no machines pay off on this ship. Keep your money.
We really had a great time. The room and dining room staff made it worth our money, we love them! And the time spent with family is priceless.