A group of 46 of us took an 8 day Caribbean cruise sailing out of Miami. My family and I traveled from New Jersey and spent a night in Miami for our 5th cruise. Stated at the Marriott Biscayne Bay. Great hotel. Stayed there before, will stay again.
We were excited to experience the new Breeze! Overall the Breeze is a beautiful ship. Lots of new areas to explore. Love the new layout. BUT it seems like they added so much stuff that the common places are smaller i.e. the beach pool area on Lido is no longer a tiered area and there is markedly less space and less beach chairs (all the reviews that say that you need to get up at dawn to get a beach chair were so right). The Lido Marketplace also seemed smaller and got very crowded at breakfast and lunch. Definitely try walking around to find a shorter line (if there is such a thing) as people tend to forget they have the same thing in two areas. The seating areas on Lido were beautifully designed, as was the outside seating on deck 5, 11 and 12.
ENTERTAINMENT - there was definitely less entertainment on this cruise. On the 3rd night there was no karaoke and not much else to do except for profanity laced comedy or the corny nightclub which was actually quite under occupied every time we passed. It's true about there not being enough accommodation in the Limelight Lounge for the comedy shows. People just everywhere. Again, this lounge seemed to be smaller than on other ships. Also waited all week for the Hasbro game night which they promised would take place 3 times (finally happened on the 5th day and also the last sea day). Absolutely loved it and my daughter was able to take part. They definitely could have put on another couple of game shows.
The usual evening shows were not good. At all. The singers were way better at dancing than singing and seemed to be dancers first, and singers LAST. A lot of flat notes. The live band and background dancers at the shows was sorely missed. Way too much use of video clips and graphics at the shows, which probably took a lot of time and effort but nothing beats the live band. The Brits show was highly disappointing, and I am a Brit! A lot of popular 60s and 70s mainstream songs were not sung. Half the songs even I didn't know. They should've stuck to the more popular Brit anthems. They experienced technical difficulties that night, which happens. But the sound tech could do a better job at mixing the mics as you could barely hear some of the singers while others were overpowering. The Diva show was a joke. More bad singing and who knew Prince was a diva? Very disappointing shows. This was the first time on a Carnival cruise where I have not seen the lounge full to capacity for the shows. Some nights it was barely half full. The Evolution of Edge show was pretty good. I'm not really into juggling but the guy was a great comedian so he made it fun and engaged the crowd.
ACTIVITIES - Sport square was a great addition. Kids loved mini golf and Water Works. Sky course was also another great addition. Didn't use the spa. Even when the prices came down mid-week I didn't feel like spending the money. Pools were always full. As were the hot tubs on Lido. The ones on deck 5 were easier to get into. That was a nice addition. As has been said, I really wish Carnival would enforce the no kids in the hot tub rule (even though there were no signs displayed on the Breeze so perhaps this rule has been relaxed). Kids use the hot tubs as pools, jumping in and splashing about and disturbing guests. One old gentleman got out in disgust. Loved the cabanas and benches around the pools so you could sit and dangle your feet in the water without getting too wet. Serenity was almost serene even though you could the laughter and screams from Water Works.
My 4 year old loved Camp Carnival, 7 year old not so much, but she's a teenager trapped in a 7 year old body... Didn't like that they closed at crucial times so that they could get even more money out of the parents (i.e. teddy bear making). The baby sitting fees were reasonable ($6.50 an hour) except for the nights when they had special parties and then they charged you $13 or $20 for a couple of hours. Just another way to make money. And not all children want to jump around to pop music. They need to find other stuff to do when they run out of ideas!
FOOD - Pizza place was good. Made the pizza to order so it was nice and fresh. Only a 5 minute wait. Apparently the hot dogs were good too but they were never open went I went to get one! Dining room was just ok. The menu was nothing special and just seemed lacking. Can't quite put my finger on it. That wow factor just wasn't there this time. Guys Burger Joint was pretty good. Burgers (in my opinion) were sloppy and just thrown together, but everyone seemed to love them. Sushi was good. Pricing was fairly reasonable ' the only food I was prepared to pay for. I didn't experience the C-day BBQ due to the lines that stretched around the lanai on deck 5 but my in-laws endured it two days in a row because apparently it was just that good.
STAFF - Butch, the cruise director, was good. Certainly knew how to engage the crowd and seemed to interact well with the masses (although none can be compared to Matt on our last cruise). The two assistant cruise directors I didn't care for. Wasn't really interested in the fact that they were dating and she was always trying to get him to propose. Ryan was a real jerk. Tried to have a convo about England as a fellow Brit and he basically wasn't interested. Overall the staff and crew were very friendly. I had positive experiences with all the crew members I encountered. Still don't know my stateroom steward. I guess we were just on different schedules. I finally met him at 8am the day we arrived back in Miami. He banged on our door to remind us to be out by 8:30am. The staff in the dining room were great. But man they really need to change the songs they sing after dinner.
Showed good movies at the Seaside Theater. Didn't do the 4-D Thrill Theater but I did hear people complaining at dinner that it was a rip off as some films were only 20 minutes long and they were not told this in advance.
Had two great deck parties. Butch and the entertainment team really got the crowd jumping. Very disappointed that there was no farewell deck party. Really missed that. In fact the last night was kinda corny. I didn't go to the show because I was at karaoke and then I went to watch Skyfall on Lido.
Debarkation was a complete mess, probably because people were trying to get off before their time. Very chaotic and seemingly unorganized. The miserable Ryan was there adding his own chaos to the mayhem.
We really enjoyed the Breeze (the ship) but will be considering another cruise line for our next cruise. It seems that Carnival has cut ALOT of corners while inflating their prices. Carnival also needs to do better with its gratuities policy. It seems ridiculous to me that after having to pay full price for my kids to actually get on the ship, and then turn around and pay again a full set of gratuities for each child who barely eat anything and I always end up cleaning up after them anyway. Maybe we will sail with Carnival again in 2017 for the launch of the new Carnival Vista.
Aruba was also very beautiful. My second favorite island after Nassau, Bahamas. Much more developed than the other islands.
Curacao was gorgeous and very colorful. Beautiful beach. Could've stayed there all week long.
Nothing much in Grand Turk apart from the cruise port. You could probably walk the whole island in the time you are there. Did a tour and saw a lighthouse with a nice view of the ocean. The cruise port was nice, with a nice beach and pool/party area.
Got a great zip-lining deal in DR. Took a taxi to the site for $15, and paid $50 to zip line. Carnival offered that excursion for $109. Was pretty good for our first time, but next time I want something a little more adventurous like mountainous rain forests or rivers or something (this was a wooded area off the highway).
Some of our group did a tour in La Romana and got ripped off. They took a trolley that was run by Carnival and paid $19 for a tour and beach trip (they paid using their sail and sign card). Turned out to be a 20 minute tour back to the ship! They got reimbursed 50% after complaining en masse.