This cruise was a 12 night Venice to Barcelona itinerary. My husband and I had already been to several of the ports but we were anxious to enjoy them with our daughters before they are off and married with little ones of their own.
Arriving in Venice the day before allowed us a few days to really see the city and it is one of our favorite spots. It also allowed us to embark at whatever time suited us and that's exactly what we did. We arranged for the Secret Itineraries tour at the Doges Palace on the morning of embarkation. By the time the tour was over it was mid afternoon and we embarked with little waiting at all. Rooms were all ready and we could access them immediately. We all had the Cloud 9 Spa Balconies primarily to ensure there was no smoking on the balconies surrounding us.
Our rooms were on the 11th floor and were spacious enough but I must say that we were only a few doors down from the access to the Serenity area and there was quite a bit of noise from the banging of the door in and out of that area. One night the closer on top of the door broke and it was jammed open and it just happened to be the night they had a big pool party so that was a bit unfortunate. Despite reporting the door problem I don't think it was resolved by the end of the trip.
We had anytime dining and chose to go to the MDR for the first time on the second night of the cruise and it was absolute bedlam. There were so many people waiting the whole foyer was filled as was the staircase. We decided to buffet it that night and by the next time we attended it was much better. With so many food options though you can easily pick and choose as your mood takes you. We found the food in the MDR to be okay, not outstanding. The buffet was always only half open (maybe they only have the whole thing open during peak times) and we found the selection to be a bit wanting. We ate at the Steakhouse (outstanding) and Ji Ji's (outstanding). Others in our party went to the Italian restaurant and reported it was good.
We found the decor on the ship to be quite nice, not garish at all. I do agree that the way to move around the ship is a bit odd but we found it pretty easy to figure out. Just remember to always go to deck 5 to pass through the casino and get to the dining rooms. We used the exercise room and my daughter used the Spa and both were excellent.
The itinerary on this cruise is what attracted us most of all and we were not disappointed. We did 4 ship excursions and for the most part we were happy. The excursion to the Acropolis was ridiculously crowded (5 ships in port that day) and the amount of time we spent there (40 mins) and in the Plaka (40 mins) out of a 4.5 hour excursion seemed ridiculous. We left that one half way through. Regardless of this we had a wonderful time in the ports.
Due to the intensity of this itinerary we seldom looked for evening entertainment but when we did we liked what we saw. Went to a few shows in the Liquid Lounge and we found the comedians to be mostly quite entertaining. The Comedy Brunch was alright, not spectacular. Don't go there for the comedy as there is only 5 minutes of it but the menu is a bit different. We found it a shame that a lot of the venues that we really liked were only open for lunch from noon until 2:30. With the itinerary we had we could only use them on the two sea days we had.
All in all we had a great experience as one would when the whole family is all together and seeing such wonderful sights. On the last night in the MDR however my husband and I had a bit of a surprise on our plates. When I cut open my baked potato to butter it half of it had gone black and rotten. My husband had a salad that he was about to enjoy a forkful of when he noticed something curious. Upon closer inspection it appeared he had a frozen caterpillar on one of the leaves. Not a small one either!! During the length of time it took to alert our server the caterpillar had time to warm up and started travelling around the plate. What an adventure, for him and for us!! Of course the server was mortified and recorded our room number but we didn't notice any kind of compensation although it was on the last evening so perhaps it might still come!?
Before closing I must echo others in their responses about the Serenity area. It is a beautiful spot that about 30 people got to enjoy on a ship of over 3000. Literally people were sleeping on these beds. As a result, if you managed to get a deck chair somewhere (I mean anywhere on the ship), it was quite a hike just to have a dip in the pool. Also the number of annoying tweens was quite bothersome. I realize there isn't much for them to do at this age but they tended to congregate in the pool area at night and took over the hot tubs. While trying to enjoy the movies under the stars you were often bombarded with yelling, screaming and general bad behavior by groups of about 8-10 at any given time. Carnival staff never says anything to them. My daughter went up to one group to ask them to move along after we had already moved our chairs to get away from them so we could finish our movie. They did comply. Come on Carnival, you are acting like you are afraid to say anything to anyone!!!
Anyway, despite a few small issues we had a wonderful time but I don't think I will be cruising Carnival again, especially during the summer months!