We hired a private car service to drive us from Pennsylvania to the New York Pier. The ride to New York was pleasant and we enjoyed driving through the city of New York. Looking back, this was actually the best part of our trip.
We arrived at the Pier at 3:30, embarking went smoothly and we only waited in line for about 15 minutes before boarding the ship. We were able to go directly to our Stateroom, which was great since we had a few bags with us, camera, laptop etc. The first thing I noticed was a strong sewage smell in our hallway and in our cabin as well. I was hoping this was just due to being in port.
I noticed the cabin was smaller than the same type cabin on Royal Caribbean but it was acceptable and the balcony was nice. We dropped our bags and headed out to explore the ship.
We headed for the top decks so we could watch the site as we left port. I didn't like the deck configuration at all, there were so many different levels. To me, it seemed to make the ship seem smaller. I found the pools to be small and the immediate pool area would most likely be very close if it were nice enough weather to enjoy the sun and pools.
We had our first bite to eat in the Mediterranean Restaurant located on the Lido Deck. As I walked through the buffet line I didn't choose anything as I was expecting a huge buffet as I found on RCCL. Nope, it was some type of fish, chicken, rice, salads and I think one dessert. Once again I figured this was due to being in port and things certainly would improve later...wrong. After a very disappointing "lunch" we walked to the top deck and watched New York fade in the distance.
I found the ship overall to be dull and bland with the color choices. I thought the center was dark and difficult to navigate through when crowded, which was the case almost everyday since inclement weather kept everyone indoors. There were a number of dead ends causing you to have to backtrack into the crowd once again to get to the stairs.
The photo gallery was a zoo - there was barely any room for people to walk and once again dead ends were at each end making it impossible to make your way through easily. I dropped film off for developing the first night of the cruise. I returned to pick it up the second night as they promised next day processing, sorry, not done come back after nine. I went the following day, still not done, come back after nine. Finally the last full sea day the film was ready to be picked up. It was cheap enough but they certainly didn't follow through with the one day processing.
The casino was nice, it was spacious and bright. They had a good variety of slot machines and tables. They kept touting the 2 cents machines, you could win a BMW - the problem was they only had 4 of them so they were always busy with people waiting to use them. I felt for the lack of machines they over-promoted them a bit.
We didn't meet or even see our room Steward until Friday, the first sea day. Our particular staff of Stewards were very inattentive and very unfriendly. We left our cabin at one point, hung the sign on the door and returned a few hours later only to find no one had been there. Our beverages and ice were never replenished. I went to retrieve ice myself and had to look for a steward for a bottle of water. The service was deplorable.
Our room reeked of sewer as well as the hallway. It was disgusting and at times it made me feel like I didn't want breath! The smell never went away, we kept our bathroom door closed at all time thinking that may help, it didn't. Thank goodness for the balcony.
I guess I am to blame for the fact that our room was so close to the Caribbean Lounge, but the noise from the shows and rehearsals was unbearable. Our first night on the ship I was awakened by blaring disco music, it was at that time I began counting the hours until I was off this ship. Throughout the trip we heard everything going on in the theatre. We didn't go to any of the shows so I cannot give an opinion on this but I heard every one of them!
The food continued to be horrible. I have never been on a cruise ship and hungry. When we booked the cruise we were told we would have an early seating, upon arrival we were told we were at the late seating, 8:30. So we grabbed our meals at the Med. Restaurant which basically served salad, some type of fried finger food, rices and at most, two desserts. The food quality was poor as well as the selection. The best food I had was a turkey sandwich from the Deli on the ship, that was quite tasty.
We did room service quite often, which was slow. We found the Med. Restaurant to be dirty each time we went there. I called for coffee one morning and was told it would be an hour. I retrieved my own coffee.
Halifax was nice, although it poured all day we walked around the city. Our excursion was cancelled. We were scheduled to do the Kayak and Lobster "feast". The lobster "feast" they spoke of was actually a box lunch with a lobster roll. A far cry from a lobster feast - we were happy to have the excursion cancelled. The cruise director even made not of this fact in his talk about excursions, he said not to be mislead, you are not getting a lobster, you will be getting a lobster roll and a beverage...for $109 pp I expect more than a lobster roll. We smelled the sewage smell from the ship one block away.
Time seemed to stand still on this trip, we couldn't wait to get off this ship. Overall the ship appeared to be very dirty, tables not cleaned, ash trays not dumped, just generally unkept.
We chose the self assist option for disembarking as we didn't want to spend one more moment on the ship. We were literally ready to hit the ground running. Disembarking went quickly once we were cleared but it turned into chaos, instead of going by deck, everyone just converged on the exits. Luckily we were at the right spot and we were off the ship in about ten minutes.
Overall this was the worst vacation experience I have ever had. I will never sail with Carnival Cruise Lines again. With the exception of my turkey sandwich, I really cannot find any redeeming moments. It is back to RCCL for us.
This is truly a case of "you get what you pay for".