Carnival Breeze Cruise Review by Spaniel Lover: Back-To-Back Eastern and Southern Caribbean
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Back-To-Back Eastern and Southern Caribbean
My wife and I did back-to-back cruises on the Carnival Breeze in April of 2013. We did the 6-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary (Grand Turk, Jamaica, and Nassau) followed by the 8-day Southern Caribbean itinerary (Grand Turk, the Dominican Republic, Curacao, and Aruba).
I love cruising out of Miami because it seems to be the most organized and the fastest... especially for platinum level passengers. We literally were sitting in the VIP waiting room with our sail and sign cards in our hands 10 minutes after we got out of the cab. We arrived a little too early, and had to sit around for about a half hour until they began letting platinum level passengers on to the ship a little after 11 AM.
Priority boarding has always been one of the perks of achieving platinum status with Carnival... but now they've added a great new twist to it. Not only do platinum level guests get priority in boarding the ship, but their luggage does, too. It's kept separate from the luggage of More the regular guests, and it's delivered first. We were totally delighted when our luggage showed up outside our cabin door at around 12:30 PM.
I'm sure you've seen all the pictures of the new softer style of interior design on the Carnival Breeze compared to the old Las Vegas style of Carnival's older ships. It's even more beautiful in person than what you've seen in the pictures. Carnival definitely got the interior design right on this ship.
There's also a lot of little improvements over the older ships... such as an improvement to the heating and cooling system in the cabins so that you really can get your cabin totally warm or super chilled (or anything in between) now. Those HVAC dials in the ceiling on the older ships are really laughable now, compared to what's in place on the Breeze.
Other little things that are improved versus the older ships are the self-serve laundry facilities (no coins needed! Just use your sail and sign card, even for the soap!) and the in-room safes (you don't need a magnetic card to operate them... you just pick a 4-digit access code on a keypad).
A hundred Breeze reviews before mine have talked about the improvements to the casual dining options at lunch... such as Guy's Burger Joint, the new Pizza Pirate, and the Blue Iguana Cantina. The Guy burgers are as good as everyone says! My recommendation is to order "The Ringer", which comes with an onion ring on top and a really tasty sauce. If you order "the ringer", they make it for you right in front of your eyes, and they put all the toppings on it... which means you won't have to go stand in line over at the toppings bar. And be sure to ask for extra fries. They're really stingy with the fries unless you ask for extras.
The new pizza is a huge improvement over the old recipe. I used to hate that old pizza and might eat one slice in an entire cruise. The new pizza is hugely improved and I probably had at least one slice every other day during our back to back cruises. The Blue Iguana Cantina is a lot like the old burrito bars that some of the ships used to have... with a couple of nice improvements. You can now get a breakfast burrito during breakfast hours... and at lunch they now offer tacos in addition to the burritos. But the thing that astounds me (in a negative way) is that they don't offer beef tacos. You can get pork, chicken, or fish... but beef is not an option.
Speaking of Mexican food, one huge negative is that they've done away with the late night Mexican buffet that they used to offer. That used to be my favorite meal of the week. I was so sad to discover that it has gone away. I wish Carnival would take that menu that they used to offer at the late night Mexican buffet and offer that at lunch at least one day during the week.
The other major food complaint that I have is with Cucina Del Capitano, the Italian specialty restaurant. I've tried the Cucina four different times now over four different cruises on two different ships and I can't honestly say that I enjoyed any of the meals. Well, I guess I shouldn't really be surprised at my disappointment with an Italian restaurant where the cooks are all from India! And what kind of Italian restaurant doesn't offer Lasagna on the dinner menu?!?
But a couple of food complaints aside, I just had an OUTSTANDING time on the Carnival Breeze. I especially enjoyed the 8-day Southern Caribbean itinerary. It's easy to see why I had to pay twice as much for the 8-day cruise as I did for the 6-day. I had never been to the Dominican Republic, or to Aruba or Curacao... and I had a great time at each. I'm a beach person, so I picked beach-day shore excursions at each port. Surprisingly, the best beach of all was actually in the Dominican Republic... the more northern of those three places. I would have expected to beaches to get better the further south we went.
A little more about cruising to the Dominican Republic... be aware that you can't just walk off the ship and start wandering around to explore. There's nothing you can walk to, although there is a free shuttle that will take you in to the shopping district in town. A much better move would be to pick one of the shore excursions. We just had a FANTASTIC time on the "Bayahibe Beach Break"... which takes you to an all-inclusive resort on the other side of the island. It had the nicest beach I had ever been to, and an open bar. That's a recipe for a great day right there!
Another very memorable shore excursion was in Aruba, where we did a snorkeling excursion on the "Mi Dushi" sailboat. You get to snorkel at three different snorkel sites... including one where I saw larger numbers of fish than I had ever seen on any previous snorkeling excursion. After the snorkeling is all over, as the sailboat heads back to the starting point, they serve free drinks... and by the time you get back to the cruise ship you are singing and having the time of your life with your 50 newest friends. It was one great day!
The big production shows on stage in the main theater are a lot different now on ships like the Carnival Breeze that have shows by "playlist productions". I totally loved the "Motor City" show, and came back to see it a second time during the second week of our back to back cruises. I wasn't very excited with "The Brits" or "Divas", though. The problem is that they've cut the show cast down to just seven people now... so when you go see multiple shows throughout the week you see the same seven people in each show... just in different costumes, singing different songs. It's odd, and I didn't like it. Loved the first show, but I didn't like seeing the same people in different shows after that.
However, what they've done with replacing physical sets on stage by using a backdrop of video walls is amazing! Instead of needing a cast of "extras" in a 40-person chorus, for example, they can have the main cast of 7 singers out front and then use a video of 33 other people singing on the video wall behind them. The way these things on the video walls blend together seamlessly with the live action on the stage is incredible to see! Also, in musical numbers, the graphics on the video walls can bounce and move around with the beat of the song. It's VERY cool.
I was concerned, now that Carnival has unveiled the "cheers" program, that there would be an increase in the amount of drunken behavior onboard... but that turned out to be no problem. I saw more drunks coming back from shore excursions than I did on the ship itself. And speaking of drinks... did you know that you can buy a pitcher of Margaritas at the Blue Iguana bar? With one single margarita setting you back about $10, getting a whole pitcher for $25 is a MUCH better deal.
In case you're wondering about the logistics of doing back-to-back cruises... yes, you do actually have to get off the ship (very briefly) between the two cruises. Guest services will contact you the night before and arrange a place and time for all the back-to-back cruisers to meet... usually about 10 AM in the lobby. At that point, they issue you a new sail-and-sign card for the second week and then escort you off the ship to go through customs to fulfill the legal requirement. You are then immediately escorted back on the ship (before any of the other guests) and that's it. This process usually takes somewhere between a half hour and an hour, depending on several factors out of your control.
We have done back-to-back cruises on four different occasions, so far. On three of them, there were about a dozen people doing back-to-backs... but on one of them, we were the only ones. My favorite part is seeing everyone all packed up at the end of the first cruise, and knowing that I don't have to because I'm sticking around! I've also learned to take advantage of certain aspects... like knowing that no one will be using the self-serve laundry on debarkation day, and saving my laundry for that day.
Without a doubt, our cruise on the Carnival Breeze was the best vacation we've ever had! Less
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Cabin review: Carnival Breeze
Excellent location with no problems at all. No noises through the walls... even when the loudest deck parties are happening on Lido deck. Surrounded by cabins above, below, and all around... so no mechanical noises or any objectionable noises of any kind. Very convenient location with just a short walk to the spa elevator... which makes it easy to get to the spa, the fitness room, the thalassotherapy pool, and the Serenity retreat. But you are far enough from all elevators that you do not hear them at all. If you walk down the hall to the bow of the ship and go through the doors to the viewing deck, you have an excellent view of what's ahead of the ship. If you go the other direction, towards the rear of the ship, you can easily get to the main pool or the Lido buffet. Heating and cooling in the cabin were the best I've ever experienced on a cruise ship. You can get the room as warm or as cold as anyone would probably ever want to. This cabin is highly recommended.
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