Boarded the Carnival Breeze for 8-day Southern Caribbean cruise from 11-19 May 2013. This was our 4th Carnival cruise and 5th overall (once on RCL). Booked originally a balcony on Deck 9 and then as prices dropped upgraded to Spa Balcony on Deck 11. Strongly recommend using Early Saver rates with Price Protection if you book early like we did. Ended up with almost $900 onboard credit by watching prices over the 7 months from booking to sailing. With that being said, probably will not book Spa category again. Unless you are really into getting your steam on, not necessarily worth it although loved being on Deck 11. Cabin size was same as regular balcony.
Embarkation was very easy. We were off hotel shuttle and with Sail and Sign cards in-hand within 15 minutes. Onboard 20 minutes later. Extremely efficient. First impressions of ship remained throughout the cruise. Big, clean and beautiful. Having cruised on the Dream previously, we were familiar with this class of ship, but the improvements with the Fun Ship 2.0 program are very nice including Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana Burrito Bar, Red Frog Pub and Bonsai Sushi. We enjoyed all of the above at some point. Especially liked the Bonsai Sushi which although was an additional surcharge was well worth the small price for some very high grade sushi. Also liked the Red Frog Pub which provided a nice relaxing environment and an additional entertainment venue with live music every night.
Food overall was good, not great, but good. Asked for and received late dining which we prefer. Seated at a 12-top and made some quick friends. Service at dinner was up to the usual standard, although did not make the connection we usually do with either the wait-staff in the dining room or our cabin steward. Not sure if this is due to a greater workload on their part since they were always hopping or maybe it was us. Nonetheless, no complaints about the quality of service. Ate in the steak house on one night, but the experience was not as good as the Dream in our opinion. Venue seems smaller and more claustrophobic. Located aft on Deck 5 just forward of comedy club. Good news is no basketball pounding on ceiling. Guy's Burgers was popular and good as was Blue Iguana Burritos. At both eateries, you can add as much or as little as you want in regards to toppings/condiments from a large selection. Enjoyed the much under rated Tandoori Grill at the aft pool. Good Indian curries and salads. Also had lunch at the Italian restaurant which was good for lunch, but doubt I would pay the upcharge for dinner.
Spent most of our time on deck in the Serenity area. No issues finding loungers even during Sea Days. As usual, the first Sea Day was the most crowded on deck and then the crowd waned. Also spent time on the aft pool deck and on Deck 11 down the side of the ship. Plenty of places to enjoy the outdoors. Party crowd was at the main pool which was loud and fun to watch, but not our scene. Movies at Sea was popular and kind of neat to see 500-600 people on three+ decks quietly and respectfully watching Batman Returns one night with popcorn on hand. Reminded me of the old drive-in movies from my childhood.
Entertainment onboard ranged from numerous live music performances from bands to Jimmy Buffet guitar to the indomitable Ron Pass piano bar. Did not attend any shows in the Main Showroom. Did late night comedy which was good. Utilized Cheers Program which was easy and no issues with getting service or good drinks. Price was $49.95 a day plus 15% for tip - $920 for the 8 days. Almost every drink is covered including those wines offered by the glass and sodas. Only exceptions would be very high end scotches, cognacs and no souvenir glasses or buckets of beer. If you drink more than 6 alcoholic drinks a day, you come out ahead for the week particularly if you are having a $9.50 glass of wine. Never got close to the 15 alcoholic drink limit. Accepted at every bar and by every server onboard.
Ports overall were very good with the exception of La Romana. "Cruise terminal" is nothing more than a low-grade tourist store and ground transportation terminus. Cannot walk to anything nearby. Did not venture into town and those who did reported what we already knew - not much to see except abject poverty. Aruba and Curacao were beautiful and full of options for ship and self-guided shore excursions. Grand Turk is very small and undeveloped although cruise terminal has a Margaritaville restaurant and pool complex and some shopping. Good news is we were pier side during all port visits. Did Carnival shore excursions at Grand Turk (Horseback riding) and Aruba (mi Dushi Snokel) enjoying them both.
Overall, we will be back to Carnival. Liked the fact that this cruise was 8 days, to different ports we had not been too previously, and on a new ship.