Well, it has been a few weeks since we have gotten back from our six day cruise on the Carnival Breeze and I wanted to pass along some thoughts and observations that might help future cruisers of this ship. We have seen many different ports in the Caribbean and we decided that the ship was going to be our destination and since this particular sailing of the Breeze only had two port stops, it gave us an extra day to stay on board and relax and at the same time reduced the price of the cruise since the port charges were less. The cruise itself had many different aspects that would be categorized as either Good, Bad or Ugly. I think I'll start off by mentioning those aspects of the cruise that fell into either of the two negative categories and then I will go into the many positive aspects of our cruise.
When we ate lunch at the Cucina del Capitano on day two, we were surprised to find out that right above us was the basketball court. It was a very enjoyable lunch, but less so because of the thump, thump, thump of the basketball that was being dribbled overhead. Another not so brilliant move when they designed the ship was to put the water slides in an area that was somewhat adjacent to the adult Serenity area. I realize that these two areas need to both be up top, but it would have made more sense to place them at opposite ends of the ship. It sort of defeats the purpose of having an adult only Serenity area when there are many people within earshot splashing around and having fun at the water park. The final area that would be under the Bad heading was the fact that the aft section of the ship, which had a bank of 4 elevators, had only 3 of them working for the first four days of the cruise.
Under the heading of Ugly, I would like to make a comment regarding the Comedy Shows, or should I say, lack of. It has been previously reported on the CC boards that the 8 day version of the Breeze had two different sets of comedians and thus they had comedy on four out of their 8 days, while we only had one set of comedians performing on two out of our 6 days. Because of the extreme popularity of the Comedy shows, it would have made sense to have the comedians perform on at least 1 other night, so the ratio would have been the same on both the 6 and 8 night sailings. The way it was set up, made us feel a little bit cheated entertainment wise. On a positive note though, the manager at the Comedy Club did clear the club between shows so that those that were waiting outside to get in had a chance, making it fair to everyone, so that was a very positive note. The only other things that would constitute Ugly, IMHO would be the fact that the ship only had two pools and that they did not have an adults only pool like many of the other ships in the fleet have.
Now....on to the many positives of the ship and the cruise we were on. The best piano man in the Carnival fleet simply reinforced the reputation that he has during the five nights that we had the pleasure of listening to him. I am, of course talking about Ron Pass. I've been lucky enough to have cruised over 20 times and Ron is the best entertainer that I have seen, hands down. Other piano bars will have their ups and downs, but Ron was consistent each and every night and if you ever get the chance to sail on a ship in which he is tickling the ivories, you will not be disappointed. His irreverent version of Old McDonald was the highlight of each evening and listening to him and the way he worked the crowd was a joy every night we saw him, whether it was before late seating during his happy hour show, or about 12:30 AM when he was winding down.
Our cruise director, Butch Begovitch and his assistant, 6'3" were the most down to earth and approachable people. Many times the cruise director is primarily a voice you hear over the loud speakers promoting this or that at the wrong time and you hardly ever see them out and about on the ship, but this was not true with those two. By the way, 6'3"s name in actuality was Amy and she was an absolute joy and as her name implies, she was a 6'3" blonde beauty.
The Red Frog Pub was a great place to just kick back and enjoy a libation of your choice, whether it be at the bar, in one of the booths or outside on the adjacent deck. Besides the great entertainment of Ron Pass, the Piano Bar 88 was the best place to enjoy many different types of martini's and even if you're not a vodka or gin fan, there were options that would please your palate. The Comedy Club was really great the one night we saw an R rated show, and as usual it was standing room only and I'm sure people were turned away that wished to get in. The intimacy of the club is a nice thing, but it can also be frustrating if you do not arrive ahead of time and you can't get in because of the popularity of the venue.
With regards to the different eating venues on the ship, there were more pluses than negatives. We enjoyed the Punchliner's Brunch on two different days, arriving one day just before 900 and another just before 1100. The filet mignon with the fried eggs was very good, as well as the tomato soup. I would recommend that you arrive before 1100 so that you get the bread basket. I had read on line that it you arrive after 1100, you do not receive it, why, I don't know. But the popovers were very tasty. The second time we went, I had the Funny French Toast with Frosted Flakes. It was very unusual and obviously very sweet, but it was different and I enjoyed it. Also, the best Bloody Mary is available at the stand just outside the entrance to the Brunch and you could spice it up to your own specifications with all of the different hot sauces and fresh horseradish that was available. It came in a pint glass and had a nice double shot of high quality vodka. Guy's Burgers were a thumbs up in my opinion and the Pig Patty was my favorite burger. The fries were good as well, and if you wanted more, just ask, and they were happy to oblige. They were even better when you dipped them in the sweet BBQ sauce. The lines at the Mongolian Wok were long as usual, but if you timed it right, it was manageable. I thought the pizza was a little bit better than it was before, but of course nowhere near as good as the pizza we can get in the Northeast. The Blue Iguana Cantina was great for lunch with their made to order burritos and tacos and it was just ok for breakfast because of the eggs that they used. The turkey Reuben's at the deli were great as usual and so were the eggs benedict in the MDR, with the sauce on the side so they're made fresh. My girlfriend had lunch at Fat Side Jimmy's BBQ and she said that it was ok, but she has had better. We went to the Taste Bar on 2 different nights and the samples from Bonsai Sushi and the Blue Iguana did not seem appealing to us. As previously mentioned, we had lunch in the Cucina del Capitano and the cooked to order pasta was very good. It's located one deck above the aft section of the Lido Marketplace and of course one deck below the basketball court. We did enjoy our experience in the Blush dining room with Ken Byrne, also know as the singing Maitre D. We had a great location on the ground floor right in the middle at a large round table and Ken came around each night to make sure that everything was ok. He didn't just come by once or twice and give perfunctory lip service like many Maitre D's do. He entertained us with his mellow tones on the two cruise elegant nights and it just added another nice touch to our fabulous week.
Regarding the specialty restaurants, we ate in them three out of our six nights. On night three, which I always consider to be the weakest dinner in the MDR since it comes right after the first elegant night, we ate at the Fahrenheit 555, which is the steakhouse. I always say that if you wish to eat, go to the buffet. If you wish to eat better, go to the MDR. If you wish to dine, go to the steakhouse. As usual, it did not disappoint, from the Amuse Bouche through our different courses and ending with their homemade ice cream. Since we had such a great lunch at the Cucina del Capitano despite the basketball game being played above us, we were looking forward to the dinner that we had made reservations for before the cruise even began. We thoroughly enjoyed the Arancini, which were risotto balls, the spaghetti carbonara, and the short ribs with the Barolo wine sauce. We enjoyed it so much; we decided to come back on our final night. For 12.00 per person, it was an even better value that the 35.00 charged at the steakhouse.
We did decide to partake in the Cheers package, which enabled us the opportunity to sample many different alcoholic concoctions that we would have never tried in the past if we were paying for each individual drink. It consisted of any drink on any of the bar menus up to 10.00, which covered about 90% of the drink choices and you were capped at 15 per day. Two different days I had 12 drinks, so obviously we had gotten our monies worth. It was nice knowing upfront what our sail n sign tab was going to be so that we had no sticker shock at the end of the cruise when the bill gets placed in your mailbox.
Our cabin was located on deck two and it had two portholes as well as a single bed and a sofa bed. The positive was that the natural light was a nice upgrade from the darkness of an inside cabin, but it came at the cost of not being able to sleep next to each other. We made the most of it and with the savings on the cabin, we were able to reduce the cost of the Cheers program, so it worked out for us in the end.
I have been lucky enough to have cruised on Carnival 17 times over the past 26 + years and I can honestly say that this cruise was my favorite one. Between the more subdued Caribbean color schemes, the compartmentalized look to the Lido Buffet, the Cheers program and the entertainment of Ron Pass, it made for six very enjoyable days afloat the Carnival Breeze.