Let me simply say-This is our 8th Carnival Cruise. Our very first cruise was in August 2003 on the Carnival Conquest. We have compared every single cruise we have taken on carnival to this one ship and had high expectations as this was the "conquest". This review is a comparison to the then and now.
Beautiful with very little noticeable wear and nice work refinishing the boat. I do miss the Egyptian space...but loved the changes as well. We loved the burger bar and updated pool. However, there isn't enough seats on the deck for passengers on sea days. I never found a seat after 9:30am. I'm not a sun goddess...so I mean NO seats in the shade either. This might be because of not enough staff watching and too many seats saved.
Sad...sad...sad. We've been on 8 boats...and this group of entertainers were the absolute worst ever. Bad voices...terrible shows (hey,I don't expect great...but good would have been nice.)The only things that saved this was the comedians and game shows. If you expect anything else...it's not going to happen. Back in 2003-every show rocked and there was so much to do that we had to pick and choose. 2013, we were bored to tears. As we had late dinning, we would sit with nothing to do. If you weren't playing bingo or trivia, there was little left to do. HOURS OF TIME WITH NOTHING GOING ON. I've never seen it so bad before on a large ship. So many of the rooms were unused but a few hours a night. It was sad. The cruise director Gary was nice and funny...but if he is in charge of the entertainment, then he should be replaced. It was really that bad. To sum it up...SIX FLAGS IS BETTER.
Typical Carnival but very clean. The room steward's were WONDERFUL!!! We also had trouble with our A/C (3 days at 78-80 in the evening) but the maintenance staff as well as guest services were very nice and responsive. They finally got us fixed on Wednesday so that it was 72ish in the evening. They did bring us a fan though and we were satisfied with their assistance.
Camp Carnival-My son loved it and spent about 6 hours there. The rest of the time he was with us.
Dinning Room Staff-
I don't know my head waiter's name is. This is a first in all of our cruises!!!! Our orders were wrong sometimes and the wait staff was unfriendly. I think they had been on the boat too long without a break. Nice people...but it appeared to be about 2/3 of the staff of what use to be there. They just ran around like crazy and didn't provide good service. No refills...no recognition of what we wanted. We ate in the dining room (Monet)every night at 8:15pm with 2 other families!! I would note that in the Renoir Dinning room we had brunch 3 days and they were lovely. They even stopped us in other locations to see how our vacation was going and to just chat.
I had hoped that the food would be good...but it was the worst yet. The dinning room menu has really been cut. Examples: 2003- Always good cuts of meats and different entree's each night. Desserts were a highlight with souffle's of wild flavor's each night. 2013- 2 nights I could not find anything on the menu to eat for my entree. Seriously...this has never happened before. I ended up ordering a BLT from room service. They did have souffle's this go round...on the last night and it was overcooked. They had a few good dishes but most were either under seasoned or Sauces made from a mix. We loved the Brunch addition. We hated that they no longer have anything good on the buffet's at night. Only one was open...but it was about 1/2 full. We wanted to do the buffet one night with our son (8) but he didn't eat anything on the buffet. The options were really bad. We ended up having to go to the dinning room as there were no other options but sandwiches from room service or pizza which took at least 15-20 minutes each time you wanted a slice. Good...but they couldn't keep up with demand at any time of the day.
Enbarkation/Debarkation-NOLA is our lest favorite port. Sorry..but any Florida port has it hands down on NOLA. They are slow and debarkation is chaos. Taxi's all over the place with Attitude and people are really grumpy about the long waits. HINT-PARK ON SIGHT OR TAKE A CAB. DO NOT PARK AT FULTON PARKING UNLESS YOU WANT FOR IT TO TAKE AN EXTRA 1.5 HOURS EACH WAY.
Don't know...they couldn't go to port because of the wind. Strange I tell you and a huge disappointment. No other activities were added by the way to the day and no other shows in the evening. Food was a joke this day as we were told they just "threw lunch together" for us.
Hired a Taxi for the day- Loved the MONKEY'S and our lunch location right on the water. The tender took over an hour each way which ate into the day. However, the people of Belize were very nice-I was surprised at the pride of this country. It may be 3rd world, but it was as clean as they could make it and truly beautiful. ****GET OFF OF THE BOAT AND HIRE A CAB OR TAKE A RIDE IN A LOCAL CART. No...I wouldn't walk alone in certain neighborhoods. I don't do that in Atlanta where we are from either. However, be smart and safe and you will be rewarded with an unexpected beauty. BELIZE MADE OUR TRIP WORTH IT!!!!
Typical Cozumel. It has become so commercialized and has lost a bit of it's spice and humility.
All in all, I feel like Carnival has made so many cuts to keep prices down that quality doesn't matter to them anymore. The staff is smaller (like all companies) and I believe they ask more of their employees which makes service a bit of a challenge. The food is definitely not good. No midnight buffet's or flaming deserts. No pride either I might add. The dinning staff just hung their heads. I've heard the stores...you get what you pay for...it's the Wal-Mart of cruise lines...etc. However, I never felt it until this cruise. We aren't snobs and we're pretty easy to please. It's just sad and that's what I felt like when we got of the boat. We were actually going to try to hit Platinum this year...instead...we're going to look for another cruise line to try. I hope Carnival will fix their problems so we can come back again.
Ronda, Mark and Andrew -Atlanta, GA