This was our honeymoon trip and I have to say that both my husband and I were extremely disappointed in Carnival, in general. Though there were some highlights, we have decided to not sail with Carnival ever again. This was our second cruise, but our first with Carnival. We had an excellent time on our first cruise (with RCI) and was looking forward to a similar experience with Carnival. We were wrong.
EMBARKATION: Total chaos. We dropped off our luggage and were then told to go have a seat to get checked in. We were told to sit as close to the front as possible as that is how they would begin checking people in. As we sat, we watched countless people go get in line--some were checked in, some were told to go have a seat. After about 1/2 an hour, more and more people were getting in line and being checked in--even though we had followed our original orders to have a seat and wait to be checked in. Eventually, we got to the line and checked in. This checking-in process was being completed by TWO people. I'm not sure how many passengers had to check in (I'm guessing at least 2500), and they had TWO people checking in? This just did not make sense to us. After we checked in, we were told, once again, to have a seat and then we would be allowed to get on the ship in a little while. Luckily, the process of actually getting onto the ship was a lot quicker & smoother than their checking in process. It seemed that all of the employees at the pier doing the check in procedures were not organized and did not seem to know what was going on--they were definitely not on the same page.
SHIP'S APPEARANCE: The ship's interior was beautiful. The themes of each room and/or lounge was very detailed and it seemed like I was always finding something "new" to look at.
FOOD: The food was average. There were a few nights at the Truffles Restaurant when I did not know what to order, as I have very simple tastes in food. I thought some of the food was too extravagant for some of my likes. Our waiter was fine, but the assistant waiter was much more personable and friendly. The food at the Lido Cafe was a bit disappointing--it seemed that they had the same food each day: the deli, the Chinese, the grill. It would have been nice to have more choices. Only two of the buffets changed daily. The "Taste of Nations" was a good idea--even though I did not eat any food from that buffet, I did like the concept of having a different nationality's food represented each day. The midnight buffets were pretty much the leftovers of the day, in my opinion. The maitre d' created a fun atmosphere in the dining room for dinner by having the waiters sing & dance--that was cute!
ENTERTAINMENT: The nightly shows were definitely one of the high points of our trip. Except for the last night, all of the shows were pretty good. The "Las Vegas" style shows put on by the singers & dancers were all excellent! The comedians were funny--except for the last night. The last night of the cruise was a disappointment in the entertainment department for us. The comedian that they had was HORRIBLE--the only time I applauded is when he LEFT the stage! The singer who they brought on after him was a little better, but nothing that I would have wanted to sit through again. The ship had two late night comedy acts which were SUPPOSED to be adult only. I say SUPPOSED to be, because I'm pretty sure that there were just as many children there as adults. At the one show, the comedian actually asked a 14-year old girl to leave...but she left and came right back in about 5 minutes. If you are labeling the activity as "Adult Only", then I think it is Carnival's responsibility to check ID's before letting children into the show. For the most part, the children & teenagers ran all over the ship and had little or no respect for other guests.
Again, I fault Carnival for another area: at the dance club, you had to be 16 to get in. However, alcohol is served to those people over 21. I'm not sure if they were checking ID's for alcohol or not, but I don't think it's a wise idea to let minors into a dance club that is serving alcohol. It would be a better idea to have some nights designated as "Teen Dance" and other nights for those guests over 21. I, for one, did not want to be on the dance floor with a lot of teenagers. A fight almost broke out one night and there were only two security guards (who were about 5'5" and weighed 125 pounds).
There was the sing-along bar and the bar with the live band--both were pretty fun and I enjoyed myself in both of those places. The cruise director & his staff were average. No complaints, no compliments...just average.
SERVICE: Again, the service was just average. I had better service on our previous cruise and I had high expectations for this cruise--but, unfortunately, my expectations were not met.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: My husband did the golf excursion in St. Thomas and enjoyed himself immensely. I did not do any excursions for two reasons-- 1: they did not appeal to me; 2: I thought they were overpriced (I think this is common on all cruises--though)
PORTS OF CALL: Again, I thought the ports of call were just OK. I wasn't excited by any of them--perhaps this is because our first cruise was to Hawaii, and we had excellent ports of call. It was nice to say that we were there, though! The scenery was beautiful at all three stops.
Overall, the cruise was better than being at home or at work, but I was not impressed. I thought the majority of the crew was indifferent towards the guests, and the other passengers were not all that friendly either. There were WAY TOO MANY children and teenagers who were left to run all over the ship--unsupervised by their parents or Carnival staff. I felt that they did not have respect for other guests. As I said earlier, this was our honeymoon and not what we had imagined as a relaxing get-away. We both agreed that there were way too many smoking areas on the ship--especially in the lounge where you had to wait to get into the dining room. After waiting in line in a smoky lounge for our first two nights, we decided to just come to dinner 10 minutes late so we would not have to wait in line, but could walk right in.
Would I recommend Carnival to others? Not unless it was for college students or college graduates looking to have a good time. I definitely would NOT recommend Carnival to couples on their honeymoon or those people who do not wish to be around children 24/7. My husband and I decided on day #2 that this would be our first and last cruise with Carnival.