After 20+ cruises on other lines, my wife and I decided to try Carnival, namely the Carnival Victory. Here's the good and the bad.
Embarkation: We booked a suite, so we had priority boarding. It went very smoothly, actually much better than priority boarding on other lines.
Stateroom: We were in what Carnival calls an Ocean Suite. To be quite honest, this room should be condemned. The long list of problems included broken furniture, broken closet doors, a broken shower head that sprayed water all over the bathroom walls, a whirlpool tub that was, of course, broken, and much more. Worst of all was the dirt and filth. Keep in mind, I'm not talking about the daily cleaning done by the steward. Actually, she did the best she could. I'm talking about years of built up grime. The sofa was covered with black greasy dirt, and the deck of the balcony was crusted with a layer of dirt and grime, so much that we could actually see our footprints in the dirt.
Dining: The food aboard ranged from very bad to inedible. The buffets are like a chow line at the prison of your worst nightmares. The main dining room is not much better. It seems to be a combination of very low quality food service company products coupled with a kitchen staff who should be ashamed of themselves. This is the only cruise where my wife and I actually walked around hungry most of the day. Also the only cruise where we almost ran off the ship in port, not to explore, but to get something to eat. Cleanliness is also not a big priority in the food service areas. The main dining room was dirty and the buffet area was absolutely disgusting, with scraps of food littering the steam tables, food scraps all over the deck, etc. I realize a lot of this is caused by passengers, but there are things like brooms and mops that will do wonders. It was interesting to see passengers who were allowed to get into the buffet line fresh from the pool so they could dribble chlorine water into the food. How delightful! I always like my burger flavored with chlorine and sunscreen.
Crew: For the most part, the crew was very good. The exception to that was the dining room staff and the staff in the buffet. They all appeared to be angry with the world. Maybe that's understandable. If I were being forced to serve that slop, I'd be ticked off, too.
Debarkation: Very smooth. We were glad for that as we couldn't wait to get off this pigboat.
All things considered, not a good cruise. Now add in the fact that we paid around $2000 just for our cabin and another $1000 in onboard charges this cruise becomes an insult.
Speaking of insults, don't bother talking to anyone from Carnival about issues like these, either onboard or on shore after the cruise. They really don't care.
One final note. After all of Carnival's problems over the past year or so, I would expect safety to have become a top priority. From a number of things I saw on board, sadly, I'd have to say that's not the case.
Can take it or leave it.
What can I say, Key West is always great. Do yourself a favor. Get off Duval Street and experience the real island. You'll love it.