Traveling: 2 ladies in mid 50's. This was my 37th cruise, it was my friends 3rd cruise. My 2nd on Carnival, her first. My last Carnival Cruise was 30 years ago. I am elite on Princess and diamond on Royal Caribbean. I also enjoy Celebrity.
I live in CT, so I drove to the pier in Boston. I picked up my friend at the airport. The airport is less than 10 minutes from the pier and is very convenient. When we got to the pier, there were plenty of signs and guides to direct us to the cell phone lot, where we parked for the week. The cost was $60 and it is paid when you get there. It was easy to park. Note: it is easiest to first drive up to the pier and drop off the luggage. Many people did not do that and had to struggle with their luggage on the shuttle bus. the shuttle was waiting there for us and we made it to the pier in a few minutes. We were there about 2 and embarkation was smooth and quick.
We boarded and our cabin was ready (6378) It was an inside cabin. At first our toilet didn't flush but that was quickly rectified. There was plenty of room for our needs, although there is very little drawer space (lots of closet room though)We didn't meet our room stewards until the next day but they were very pleasant when we did meet them. And, they made adorable towel animals!
I am used to the elegance of a Princess or Royal Caribbean ship. This ship was GAUDY. There were flashing lights and completing colors everywhere. Spaces were small and there weren't a lot of cozy corners to get away from the crowds. There were a lot of lights that changed colors and they fought with each other for your attention. The Boulevard was narrow. Two shops, one with jewelry and cosmetics and the other with everything else. Also Cherry on top, a candy store.
A lot of people cruise Carnival with the main purpose of drinking and getting rowdy. This is not everyone, of course, but I did see more than usual amounts of rude, drunk passengers and kids running all over the ship.
Our cabin was right above the kids disco. First night was ok, but the second night it was so loud that our floor vibrated! We were moved to 2345 the next morning.
The food was decent mass market cruise food. It was arranged on the plate very nicely and everything I ate was good. Nothing to rave about though. I do not eat meat or poultry. I can recommend the Caesar salad and spring rolls in the appetizers. Gazpacho was good and I liked the way it was served: a tiny bit of "salsa" in the middle of an empty plate and then the soup is poured over it. Fried Tiger shrimp the first night. On elegant night I had the lobster and shrimp. Typical tasteless cruise ship lobster (although that didn't stop me from having 2) I had the Indian vegetarian entree twice from the everyday side of the menu. The other night I had the vegetarian pasta entree and the shrimp entree and mixed them together. For dessert: the chocolate melting cake was good, but it is no Love Boat Dream dessert! The almond souffle was tasty as was the apple tower. Our server, Eveline, was excellent ans she remembered our names immediately. Her staff Ketut and Faigu (I think) were very attentive. We ate early seating in Platinum lower.
We sat at a long table for 8 with friends of my travel companion. two adults in their 40s with 4 children: 22 months, 10 years, 13 years and 18 years old. Baby was on a special diet and was accommodated.
I was not impressed with the dining room. Paintings of Japanese style flowers on a silver background and lots of gaudy lights. The ceiling on the side wings was very low and even the center section was not sweeping and elegant.
Breakfast was open seating. On sea days, it was open until 1 and was called Brunch. The menu was a bit bigger and the food came out hot. I enjoyed the french toast. The comedians from the Punchliner entertained for 10 minute stints on the hour.
The buffet served lunch when we boarded. There are lots of little areas to get food. Two sets of buffet areas, a deli, Guys burgers, burritos (excellent!) and pizza (also excellent) There was also a fish and chips area. Drink stations and ice cream stations were open 24 hours. There is no lunch served in the MDR, except for "brunch " on the port days.The food was good and plentiful. There was a chocolate buffet at lunch on the last sea day. It was good, but not all that impressive. We had breakfast in the buffet only once.
On the first sea day I went to the cooking demo in the steakhouse. I highly recommend this but get there early because the seating is limited. We were treated to demos and samples of some very yummy dishes including mushroom cappuccino soup served in an espresso cup, spinach salad, grilled chicken over 5 cheese mac and cheese and tiramisu. small portions but it was enough for lunch for me. Other than that, I did not eat in the steakhouse ($35 upcharge)
Elegant night? It was more of what the cruise veterans used to call semi formal night, but maybe not even! Very few ties on the men. A lot of aloha and guayabera shirts. Ladies in sundresses. No one even remotely formal or elegant. I felt out of place in my cocktail dress so I changed. And, everyone was back in shorts for the show.
The ship was clean and the personnel were friendly.
There were the typical pool activities of hairy chest competition, etc. Bingo, trivia, karaoke. I would have liked a port lecturer and maybe some craft type classes. Wasn't all that much for us to do activity wise so we found shady spots on the deck and sat and napped. Which is a great idea for vacation activities!
The dj at the pool played very loud music and we had to go far to find a quiet spot. There is an adult only area called Serenity which is free of charge and had nicer seating but it was always crowded and noisy. Not serene at all.
It was as if all the noise and music on the ship was cranked up to the loudest it could be.
I participated in the drawing in the gift shop where we had to choose the phony diamond. I had the correct answer and my name was drawn. I won a Perlina bracelet.
We did not go to the comedy club.
The shows: on our ship they performed Divas, Latin Night and Motor City. We did not see Latin Nights. The decor of the Amber Palace was in a word: TACKY!
The use of multimedia in the shows is too strong and harsh. It completely overpowers the entertainers. The strobes and blinking lights were way overdone and the music was way too loud. I did not care for divas because of that. Motor City was a little calmer, but not much. I had to keep my eyes closed for most of it because of the flashing screens.
A nice touch though was the dancers coming out to the lobby right after the show to dance with the audience for 10 minutes.
We saw the movies at the Seaside Theater. We saw Skyfall one night and Quantum of Solace the next (I know, they should have been switched) We also saw Chicago and Mamma Mia. The last night the theater was dark because we hit a lot of fog and the screen was shining right onto the navigation bridge.
They had cozy blankets but didn't put cushions on the chairs (like Princess)There was popcorn though!
We were lucky weather wise. The 3 cruises before ours were very rainy. We had very hot but clear weather. The last sea day was foggy and humid though.
I would have liked a kitchen tour,but Carnival no longer does that. The waiters also don't parade with the baked alaska either. Although they were forced to do some embarrassing singing and dancing.
We enjoyed the towel animal folding class on the 2nd sea day.
Disembarkation was easy an seamless. We were off the ship quickly and shuttled over to the car.
Overall: we had fun and it was an enjoyable time. But, next time I will go back to Princess or Royal Caribbean!