This was our 1st Carnival cruise & we booked it all online which was very easy.We booked the Carnival Legend for a 12 night tour of the Mediterranean starting at Venice & finishing at Barcelona. My husband & I & 2 friends booked balcony cabins on deck 7. The rooms were very spacious, had loads of storage & the bathrooms well equiped with toiletries. We each had a thick bathrobe & towels for the pool. It was spotlessly clean & Marlon our cabin steward introduced himself & nothing was too much touble, he even arranged for the balcony divide to be opened so we could share the balcony with our friends.Our bath towels were changed twice a day.
We booked our own flights & Carnival transfers & the carnival rep was on hand at Venice airport to meet us. We thought we had arranged a private taxi transfer but it was a coach & we did have to wait a while until everyone was there. The embarkation went without a hitch & we were able to enter our cabins as soon as we boarded
Once onboard we were hit by the Bling! The decor is very 'loud', Lots of gold shiny surfaces & ceilings with lots of fussy designs but it is amazing how quickly you get used to it. We saw our cases in the lift lobby & took them ourselves to our cabins. Unfortunately one of our friends labels had come off & they had to retrieve their bag from guest services later.
Lunch in the Unicorn cafe on deck 9 was good. There was a huge selection to eat & the plates are massive! Why they have to be so big I don't know, we saw people piling their plates up only to leave half of it, a terrible waste of food. In fact we used the plate as tray to carry 4 mugs of coffee, they were that big. We didn't have to queue for long to serve ourselves & even on sea days the queues were managable. In the evening we had anytime dining & it worked very well for us. The selection was good & the waiters very attentive. On a couple of occasions we did get our coffee before our desserts. We dined in the steakhouse one evening( it was our anniversary) & it was the best steak I have ever eaten. The restaurant was lovely & our friends had ordered us an anniversary cake which was delivered to our table. After such a big meal we couldn't eat it so they packed it up for us to take back to our cabin. It was well worth the extra $35.
We didn't book any Carnival excursions. We thought them very expensive. We booked our own tour of Rome which was fabulous. We did get off the ship in the other ports for a look around & had to use the shuttle buses in some places. We thought the charges a bit steep , 5-10 Euros pp .In fact in Palma where they were charging 16.5 Euros each to town. We walked out of the terminal building & got a bus for 1.5 Euros each.
The main purpose of our holiday was to relax & enjoy the sun which we did on the Serenity deck. It was lovely & relaxed & you could get extra towels. Occasionally you heard the screams from people using the slide which was directly above it, but it wasn't open all day. We saw very few children ( there were 93 on board we were told) but this is probably because the school holidays hadn't started. Most of the passengers got off in port so we had the Serenity deck to ourselves a lot of the time...bliss!
We were able to check our sail & sign cards at any time using the machines on deck 2. Any discrepancies were dealt with straight away at the guest services desk & I would advise to check daily as mistakes are made. Our main gripe is the gratuities. We opted out of the automatic $11.5 pp per day when we booked as we wanted to tip as we thought fit. This was automatically added to our account & we had to ask for it to be taken off, but they could only do this after a week on board which seemed a little odd. They did do it though when we went back. We also asked for the gratuities to be taken off our bar bills too but this could only be done on the final night which they did do. This meant that we were then in credit & any refundable credit is paid in Dollars,CASH before you leave the ship & NOT credited to your credit/debit card, so be warned or you might lose it!
We did find the drinks quite expensive , coctails $7.95 & with the 15% gratuities it all adds up. We took a bottle of wine each on board at embarkation but no spirits as we had heard stories of it being confiscated .. However, we did ask later on if we could bring wine on board after a trip out & we were able to. My only other gripe was about the coffee bar. I had a cappuccino at an extra cost of $2.95 only to have it served in a cardboard takeaway cup. Surely they could have proper coffee cups for this? Needless to say it was the only one I had.
The entertainment was ok. There is a distinct difference between American & British humour. We didn't see many of the shows mainly because we were still in at dinner. We did take part in the quizzes & are the lucky winners of a 'ship on a stick'! The bars did not appear to have many people in them on most nights & you were always able to get a seat. The casino seemed to be the most popular place & the only room inside you were allowed to smoke in. As a non smoker I found it very uncomfortable especially as the smoking area was on the main corridor through between the bars.
The ship was spotless with cleaners always dusting, mopping etc & the toilets were always being cleaned too & didn't smell at all.
Disembarkation was painless too. Yes, we did have to be up at the crack of dawn but we had an early flight so it wasn't a problem. All in all, we had a great time & wouldn't hesitate to book another Carnival cruise.