This was our first (and last) cruise with Carnival. Embarkation went smoothly-got there about 11:30 am, and sailed right through.
Ship: Our balcony cabin was fine, although a prior passenger had left items under the bed which were still there. We did not like the layout of this ship. It was very difficult to go from forward to aft on floors 3 & 4 because of the Renoir dining room. We never did learn to navigate this ship very well. We heard this complaint from many others as well. We had a hard time finding public restrooms on several floors. When we did find them, they were quite small, the urinals were too high and close together. There were no tissues in the public bathrooms, nor paper towels. It was also hard to get in and out of these bathrooms if they had double doors.
Food: We were very disappointed in the food. It was very bland-almost cafeteria quality. The steaks were over-cooked, regardless of how ordered. My husband spent the entire week in search of salsa for his omelet. He was told either "It's over there", "we don't have any", or "I don't know" all week. As it turned out, there was apparently none on board. It was also very difficult to find any margarine on board--the staff guarded it like they were guarding bars of gold! I can't count the number of times I heard myself and others ask "where is the butter/margarine". The only place it was readily available was in the main dining room. The breakfast buffet was essentially the same thing everyday, although they sometimes changed from pancakes to French toast. Of course, with NO BUTTER, these weren't very good either. Overall, the food was lousy!
Cleanliness/maintenance: This was OK, but not great. We were used to being on ships where the rails and glass were constantly being cleaned. As a result, one could go out on the promenade deck and lean against the rail without getting salt all over them. On this ship, it appears the rails are never wiped down, so if you lean against them you come away sticky, with salt all over your arms and/or clothes. This made is hard to enjoy the promenade area. The lounge chairs were also covered with salt, and felt greasy as a result. Our cabin steward did an adequate job of keeping the room clean. It appeared that smoking was not confined to one side of the ship, as on other ships we have sailed. This made it difficult to go from floor to floor and avoid smokers.
Service: This was disappointing, compared to what we are used to. I don't know if this was because of the policy to tip up front, or if this is just par for the course on carnival. Regardless, staff was friendly, but certainly did not go out of there way to accommodate you. It took 2 days to get the bar in our room unlocked. My husband uses a C-PAP machine, and because of the lack of plug-ins in the room, he needed an extension cord. We were charged a $25 deposit for an extension cord! RCI has always provided this at no charge. Dining room staff was friendly, but again, did not go above and beyond. The first couple days, we had to ask repeatedly for our water glasses to be refilled. The bar staff around the pool wasn't great either. I spent 3 hours by the pool one day, and was never asked once if I wanted a drink. The staff also appeared ill-equipped to deal with an emergency. For example, the marble floors in the casual dining area were allowed to remain wet from people walking through from the pool. As a result, we saw one lady take a nasty fall. When we reported it to the kitchen staff, they initially acted like they didn't know what to do. They did finally get someone to respond, but it took 20 minutes. Good thing the lady wasn't dying! We later learned that others had also fallen on this floor, but never did we see anyone mopping up, nor were caution signs placed in this area. If they can't keep the water off the marble floors, perhaps they should consider carpeting these areas.
Entertainment: This was average. There were some good acts: Ron Joseph was great, as were Mark Ruben and Phat Kat. Manuel Zuniga was also good. The ship singers and dancers worked hard, but weren't that good. Some of the dancers appeared very professional while others were very amateurish. The female singer, Carolla, was good, but Damian, the male singer was not. Skip "Deja the Diva" unless you are REALLY into magic-we left her show after about 15 minutes. Entertainment overall was average, although there were some great acts as noted above.
Overall, we were not impressed with this ship, nor with Carnival. We will likely not sail with them again--it's back to Royal Caribbean for us!