This was the first cruise we have ever taken! I wanted a memorable vacation for my wife and I, to celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary. We went with some anxiety, not knowing what to expect, and having read the mixed comments about the ship on this site.
Knowing that the ship had 3,000 passengers to board, and the comments from previous travellers, we decided to take the advice of Carnival and arrive by 11.30am. We stayed the previous night at the Miami Airport Embassy Suites, and it was full, so we decided to take a cab at 9.30 to avoid a mad rush for the taxis. We arrived at the port at around 10am, and got in line straight away, having left our cases with the porters. We had pre-registered, so everything went smoothly. We then went through, and waited for the others to disembark. It's obvious that you have to wait for the previous cruise to get off, before they let you on, so the wait was to be expected. We were on the ship, and in our stateroom at 11.50, and eating lunch at 12.00 - can't be bad. I can't understand why people leave it till 2pm to start the embarkation process, and expect no lines. Our luggage arrived at our room around 3:00. Our category 8A room on the Veranda deck was beautiful and huge. It had a large window and wonderful balcony.
I was a little hesitant at first because of some of the negative reviews from people who perceived Carnival people as rowdy drunks, however we were pleasantly surprised.
Like the "CrazyTraveler", I would like to know what mattress they use. I travel a lot, using top quality hotels, but this was the best bed I have ever had the pleasure to sleep on - I want to buy this brand.
This ship is huge with loads of things to do. It was spotlessly clean. The staff were constantly cleaning the ship. During port visits, they even managed to do some painting of the ship's exterior.
We decided that didn't need to book in at Scarlett's restaurant because the food in the Lincoln (assigned dining) was so good, with a marvellous selection of items. We had the 8.30pm sitting on the lower level (table 124). Our Turkish "team" headwaiter, Sammut, was brilliant. Together with his South African assistant, they really looked after us. The Maitre D', Osman, was also very professional, always coming by the table and ensuring that we were being looked after. For breakfast, we used the Washington restaurant, for the service, and were seated with some very nice people, especially couples from Philly and Florida. The Asian, Deli and Fish and Chip restaurant were also to be praised for the quality of food they offered. The staff were mostly from Eastern Europe and the Far East. We got talking to several of them, as I have travelled extensively in those areas. They were all very friendly, and pleased to talk about home.
One sour note. I find that the American habit of piling as much food on their plates as possible, to ensure that they can waste 75% of it, and expecting the staff to remove it, a trifle obscene. If these people have ever visited these areas, they will realise that in one meal alone, they were probably wasting as much food as these nations can afford and eat in a week
Following dinner, we always attended the 10.30pm performance in the Ivanhoe theatre. The shows were excellent and very entertaining. The dancers were well choreographed – especially the little Australian girl. They had a brilliant comedian on, Thomas Brown. We stayed on to watch his adult performance and were not disappointed. This guy had me in stitches. I know that they have to cater for all people, and Cecil Parker’s R&B show was not to my taste, but my wife loved it Following the superb 70’s/80’s show, they had a break dance duo which, I have to say was awesome; I searched for my boom box and roll of linoleum on my return. They did an encore show in the lobby after the show and really impressed everybody.
What can I say about the cruise director, Dangerous Brian. He was hilarious. It was his first week as Cruise Director – encore Brian, you were great!!. We had the pleasure of sharing a taxi with him, and some of the dancers, in Cozumel. What a great bunch of people they were – hope you all enjoyed the bowling.
Debarkation was pretty much like embarkation. We started at approx 9.30am, and were driving away from the Hertz rental car office at 11.20am.
Overall, my wife and I had a great time, and a great anniversary celebration, and we will be looking very soon, for a cruise for next year – AGAIN WITH CARNIVAL.