This was our family's 6th cruise (8th for just my husband and me). This was our 2nd cruise with Carnival. We flew into LaGuardia and arrived by cab to the port at 1:00 pm with no problems. We checked right onto the ship with no problems but we did find the embarkation staff to be rather abrupt and not exactly welcoming.
We went straight to the Mediterranean Restaurant and found a nice buffet with adequate food but not what we had been expecting from our past experiences. The decor was very nice but the seat upholstery was very stained and just looked plain dirty. The cheese cake in the dessert area of the Mediterranean was very good, but all other desserts, (and there weren't that many to pick from), were not good at all. They were small portions and similar to what you see at a Chinese buffet. The deli had very good sandwiches. My sons seemed to like the Chinese station quite well. The ice cream/yogurt machine was good.
Our cabin steward, Melvin, was excellent. He made every effort to accommodate our requests and we always had a clean room, clean towels and a friendly hello from Melvin. Our room was just big enough for our family of four. I had to get creative on how to store our clothes since there was next to zero shelf space for storage. On the last morning before debarkation, out toilet stopped flushing and a strong smell of sewage was present on our floor.
We had 5:45 early dinner seating in the Pacific Dining Room. We were initially seated on the 2nd floor, at the window, beside an extremely loud waiter station. Our wait staff did not introduce themselves and actually reached across my husband as he was eating to get dirty plates (we were seated in a booth for 4 people). Then they tried to take his plate before he was finished. It was so loud where we were sitting we had to talk in a loud tone to have a conversation. I guess everyone was having that problem because the noise level was noticeably high. We requested a table relocation and were told we would have to wait until 12:30 the next afternoon to get our answer. We did get our reassignment to a much better location and much better wait staff. This however did not help the less than average food. The desserts were the worst I've had on any cruise. The lettuce served in the salads looked like it could have come from the pre-bagged kind you get in the grocery store. The melons were hard and tasteless. The supposed Filet Mignon was tough and pot roast like in texture and flavor.
At open seating breakfast, a waiter actually argued with me over what I ordered. I was so shocked. He brought me corn beef hash (I hate corn beef hash and would have NEVER ordered it) and he stared me directly in the eye told me I HAD ordered corn beef hash. The assistant waiter brought the wheat toast I had actually ordered and I did not see the other waiter again. We realized early on that you had better get all the bread/coffee/ tea/water you want initially because it was up to you to ask for any extras. Don't expect to be offered seconds on anything. It won't happen. Our main problem with service was not with our second set of wait staff (Vas and Richard...they were very good), it was with the other wait staff in open seating.
The entertainment was very good. The cruise director was annoying but Okay. The pools were nice but we couldn't really swim in the misty, foggy and cool climate. The casino was fun and we enjoyed the staff there. Our children (ages 12 and 16) enjoyed the kids activities and having a chance to meet other kids their age.
We never got lost on this ship but were constantly back tracking to get to one end or the other. There were several dead ends.
The ports we visited (Halifax and St. John) were friendly and clean but dull with not a lot to see. It was very foggy in St. John (very glad we didn't purchase an excursion since several were cancelled.)
We opted for the "self assist" debarkation. That went pretty smooth and we were off the ship by 9:15 am.
I have always said there is no such thing as a "bad" cruise, however, this cruise came close to being my first bad one. I'll probably not consider another Carnival ship for future vacations.