We were on the Breeze's June 8th sailing to the So. Caribbean. This was our 10th cruise, 3rd on Carnival. Prefer RCI or Princess but decided on the Breeze at it was their newest ship going to 4 ports we have never visited. Overall, we were very pleased, had a great time with only some minor disappointments mentioned below.
Embarkation - it was a Breeze! Arrived around 11:30 and we were on the ship in about 20 minutes.
Ship - the ship is a definite improvement over other Carnival ships. The decor is nicer, gone are the gaudy colors and neon. Although the capacity is listed at 3,600 passengers, they told us there were 4,700 passengers on board. I guess a lot of 3rd and 4th people in cabins. Even with that number, it never felt crowded. There were plenty of deck chairs to find, even on sea days, with the exception of right around the pool. Since that wasn't our objective, it was not a problem. Plenty on both sides of deck 11.
Cabin - we had a balcony on deck 7 mid-ship and it was very comfortable with good closet/drawer space. Cabin attendant showed up a minute after we entered and introduced himself. He and his assistant were very visible and helpful throughout the cruise. I asked for more hangars with clips for pants and he brought me 3 that looked like the type you get at retail stores. We joked that he probably took from his own cabin! No matter where they saw us, sometimes far down the hall, they greeted us by name, an ability I wish I had! Noise was not a problem, except for the occasional running kids and slamming doors. We did have to call on the balcony below us when they decided the entire starboard side of the ship needed to hear their rap/techno pop music blaring from their balcony one morning. It was taken care of within 15 minutes.
Food - overall the food was good with great selection. We don't really go on a cruise expecting 5-star cuisine, so expectations are not extraordinary. It was on par with most of our other cruises.
-- Breakfast in Lido is normal buffet food with an omelet station.
-- Lunch is where I believe the Breeze excels. We only ate in the Lido Marketplace once (embarkation) with the exception of the Mongolian wok, the longest wait time for food but worth it! The variety they offer throughout the ship is excellent, including Guy's Burgers, the Blue Iguana cantina (burritos and tacos), the pasta bar in Cucina del Capitano and Fat Jimmy's BBQ.
-- MDR (Blush) had good variety for dinner every evening and the service was very good. We ate here every evening with the exception of the day/evening we were in Curacao. A side note on dining and cruising today...it seems to be getting less of a 'special event' and more 'anything goes'. I suppose that is more the case on Carnival than a higher end brand, but I don't understand the compromise of some of the features that use to make cruising special. In particular, the attire in the MDR is terrible. I remember when shorts, t-shirts, etc. were not allowed for dinner. Now, you see shorts and t-shirts in the MDR every night and jeans on formal nights. I'm not a stuffy old codger and certainly not the suit/tux type of person, but with so many alternative eateries on today's ships, why not enforce some type of dress code to enhance the decorum. If someone doesn't want to adhere, there are plenty of other options.
-- Bonsai Sushi - rolls were good, fairly priced and nice size, but the service was not. We must have sat 10 minutes before getting service, although there were only about 3 other tables occupied. When a table of ship's officers sat down, service was immediate. I had to ask for the bill (we were in a bit of hurry to go back off the ship and take some night shots in Curacao), waited at least 5 more minutes and then had to go up to a server at the bar to ask for it again.
-- The usual pizza and ice cream were a nightly routine, although I was surprised they always seemed behind in the pizza making area. They made smaller pies (4 slices) and even with a line of 10-20 people, they never seemed capable of bring out more than 2 pies every 3-5 minutes. I heard a person say they had left the line 3x before because of the wait. It wasn't overcrowded, it just seemed they couldn't produce quicker.
Entertainment - this is where I believe the Breeze/Carnival falls down. Although we enjoyed the CD (Butch) and some of the staff (Gaby), the shows were a big disappointment. They kept promoting how they have gotten away from the Vegas-style show with the new Playlist productions, allowing them to have performers that can sing, dance and act instead of a troupe of singers and a troupe of dancers. Sorry, but I'd rather have performers that can do one of those skills well, rather than mediocrity in all areas. The female singers were especially poor. We skipped the last production (Divas) because we knew it was going to be the female singers. I'm sure these changes having something to do with the budget (6-7 performers instead of 14-15), but the result is very poor.
Entertainmant was mediocre pretty much everywhere else. The piano bar performer had a voice that even our son, who doesn't have anything bad to say about anyone, commented was poor. And it seemed that all the performers had to have the music/words in front of them for most performances. Very strange. The oddest performance was the "farewell concert". It began with Butch and the asst. CD (Brittany) doing the history of dance. This was funny, but the rest/majority of the show consisted of the ship band with two lead singers covering some songs. We're used to the farewell show being more more of a retrospect of the week's performances with multiple acts, but this was very odd. i presume many felt the same way as people began leaving in droves about the 4th song in. I went to the casino and my wife stayed, sure there would be a closing wrap-up with the CD, but just a voice over thanking us.
The juggler and ventriloquist were just OK, nothing you haven't seen before. The best part of the juggling act was when Butch came out at the end of the show to throw a flaming torch to the juggler, overthrew, landing at the feet of an audience member. I don't think almost setting a guest on fire was part of the act! The stage manager and crew member with a fire extinguisher were very quick to react and looked very concerned, as did Butch. I don't think a juggler's assistant is in his career path!
We didn't make it to the comedy club, but it was popular, with lines out the door to get in.
Activities - there's a wide variety of things to do throughout the ship every day. Bingo, trivia, sports activities, pool games, waterslides, casino, etc. were plentiful. If you couldn't find something to do, I'm not sure what would make you happy. We especially liked the Adult Team Trivia in the Red Frog Pub every night. The host, Gaby Glitta, was especially funny and she made it very fun. It didn't hurt that we won 2x!
Another unique and fun activity was the Hasbro Game Show, which was performed 3x during the week. It was a fun competition with kids and adults on teams playing a variety of Hasbro games. It was entertaining.
Ports - the main reason we booked this cruise and we weren't disappointed. Although we are relatively seasoned cruisers, we usually stay with ship-sponsored tours. We're willing to pay the extra $$ to be sure we get back on the ship!
-- Grand Turk - we did power snorkeling and enjoyed seeing the 7,000 ft. drop along with coral and fish. The beach, pool, shopping and bar area right off the pier was nice (although we didn't go in the water, so I can't speak to the beach terrain). There's really not much in Grand Turk (it's more of a man-made cruise port) so if all you want is to relax on the beach or pier, the area right off the ship will serve that purpose (at no cost). I'm not sure why the ship leaves so early (2pm) as extra time in this area would have been nice. Doesn't seem like it would take that long to get to La Romana by the next AM.
-- La Romana, DR - they warned that if you were only going to do one tour on this cruise, this was the place to do it since there's nothing at the port, they were right! You can't just walk off the ship here and explore. We did the Bayhibe Beach Break which took us to the Be Live All-Inclusive resort about 30 minutes away. Nice beach, pool, sun beds, beach chairs with thatched umbrellas and drinks made this worth it. Our son and his friend went on another tour to kayak and fully enjoyed the trip.
-- Curacao - great port to visit and easy to just walk off the ship into town. We didn't do a tour, but simply explored the city. Lots of shops and colorful architecture. Don't pay for a walking tour, there's maps posted elsewhere on CC that are helpful or it's really easy to do on your own.
-- Aruba - we did North Coast Jeep Safari and thoroughly enjoyed the tour. Besides seeing and stopping at many of the island's sites, they took us off-road for a ride we won't soon forget. Very fun! The tour was supposed to be 4 hours, but was more like 5-1/2. We ended with snorkeling at a local beach. Didn't get a chance to explore the shopping areas, but Aruba is definitely on the list of places to return.
Debarkation - we opted for zone debarkation, having our luggage taken away the night before. Our zone was towards the end and we left the ship about 30 minutes after the time estimated on the debarkation information. Once off the ship, we breezed through luggage claim and customs in about 5 minutes. If we didn't have so much luggage, we would have definitely done self-assist, taking our luggage off with us earlier in the morning.
Overall, the ship's staff was very friendly. The ship is new and very clean and we saw numerous workers continually cleaning and picking up. Although this is a general rule on most ships, we noticed it much more on the Breeze.
Our entire group thoroughly enjoyed the cruise and would go again!