Hi fellow CC'ers -
I've read so much about the Carnival Breeze before stepping aboard and owed it to all of you by offering up my experience aboard the ship! I've sailed on over 25 cruises with Celebrity, RCCL, NCL, Princess, and Carnival... I'll use a 5 star rating system on areas I offer feedback.
Embarkation (4.5 stars)
We arrived at 1pm and it took approximately 40 mins to get onboard. There are a few queues to get past before getting onboard - entrance passport check, security checkpoint, sign & sail check-in, welcome aboard photo, and waiting on the gangway to board. Timing is really everything as the queues appeared to subside when we were about to get onto the ship. The process was efficient and the wait time depends on how many people show up at the same time. I heard people showing up at 11:30am and had little wait getting onboard.
Stateroom Attendant (5 stars)
The twice a day housekeeping by the stateroom attendant and assistant has been outstanding. They are truly the behind the scenes workers that make sure we come back to a refreshed and clean cabin with a nice towel animal and chocolates every night. We really appreciated their efforts and extended additional gratuity beyond the prepaid amounts.
Stateroom Location (3 stars)
Our balcony cabins (9431/9435 adjoining cabins) were located on deck 9 aft, starboard side underneath the Marketplace Buffet near the elevators. The advantage of this cabin location is very easy access to the buffet and midnight snacks by taking the stairs up one floor. The disadvantage of this cabin location is the noise levels from the Marketplace cleaning crew during the wee hours of the evening. You hear a lot of furniture being dragged across the floor for a few hours. Light sleepers be warned!
Stateroom Design (4 stars)
There is ample storage in the balcony stateroom including in the bathroom areas. We found very effective use of storage compartments, shelves, and closet space. Cabin size is about the same for most balcony staterooms we've been on (e.g., Celebrity, RCCL, etc.). Beds are definitely on the hard size - which was ok for us.
Theater Entertainment (3.5 stars)
Welcome aboard show wasn't really worth the time. The first main show Motor City was ok considering there are only 8 entertainers and singers involved with all of the scenes projected on large LED panels with minimal stage props. Singing was ok, but the show did a decent job to get people into the party spirit! The other main production shows were the Brits and the Divas. The dancing was great, but the singing was mediocre. It's really difficult to perform famous cover songs and not hit the notes well. The actual shows are 30 mins with a 15 min pre-show (filler time) to make the experience appear to last 45 mins. We had a planned hypnotist show that got canceled and it's pretty bad that the entertainment staff didn't have a clear back up plan to either do a repeat show or a have an alternative show as a backup for these unforeseen events. Instead, they pulled in atrium singers into the theatre as a substitute performance. The audience pretty much left the theatre when they got news of this...
Of all the shows, Hasbro the game show is probably the best game show I've seen on the high seas. Don't miss it.
Customer Service Desk (5 stars)
We had a maintenance issue in our cabin and the customer service rep (from Thailand) was VERY VERY attentive to our request. She actually came to our cabin with the maintenance worker to evaluate the situation and remedy it. After the work was completed, she and other customer service reps called our stateroom to follow up on the resolution. They left messages and called again until we provided our feedback. It's very clear that Carnival takes customer service very seriously and I have never experienced such attentiveness on any other cruises. Kudos to Carnival here!
Marketplace Buffet Design (2.5 stars)
This is probably the most uncomfortable buffets I've seen on any cruise. Aesthetically, it's nice looking, but it's actual effective design and layout seriously needs to be revisited by Carnival. Seating is very tight with tables very close to each other. There are narrow walkways on both sides of the buffet that makes it very difficult to navigate with people carrying their food going in both directions and having to dodge other people by moving over to the side where others are enjoying their food. I had an incident where someone's belly was hovering over my plate while the individual was trying to make their way through. The queues for food can have significant wait times depending on time of day especially during embarkation day.
Ship Ambient Temperature (1 star)
You can't rely on BREEZE to cool you down on the Carnival Breeze. The ship's temperature was very inconsistent from comfortable temperature to warm/humid temperatures. Areas that have been "warm" included Blush dining area, mid-ship elevators (deck 9), casino, buffet... The cabin temps aren't as cold as you would expect on the coldest setting either. They really need to address this AC issue.
Dining Room Wait Staff (2 stars)
Our waiter and assistant waiter's service was below average compared to over two dozen other cruises we've sailed on in the past. They seemed to have had a grudge on prior cruises where they didn't get full tips or when you skip a meal in the dining room (to eat at a specialty restaurant or buffet, they are not paid by Carnival for the pre-paid tips for that night. On the first speculation, wait staff needs to realize each cruise is different and many of the experienced cruises do extend gratuities ABOVE the standard pre-paid amounts if the service provided is excellent. Harboring grudges or providing mediocre service does not justify additional gratuities. On the second note, I was surprised to learn (from a crew member) that wait staff does not earn the pre-paid gratuities when passengers do not show up in the dining room. Not sure where the monies go... found that part strange, would be interested to know if this is a fact or just a rumor.
The service complaints include: picking up plates without asking if one was finished with it (especially when eating in progress was obvious), shoving plates on a table when they haven't picked up the old plate, not talkative or even cared to learn about our dining preferences, filling glasses of water/tea on the table (where liquids would run over our food/table vs picking up the glass and filling it up off the table....
On the other hand, service was fast,... we were in and out in about 60-70 mins.
Dining Room Food (4 stars)
With the exception of embarkation day, the dining room food was good, overall. Portions were decent size and the quality of the food was good. The chocolate melting cake is by far the best dessert on the menu and available every night!
Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse (4.5 stars)
The food here was exceptional with a couple minor gripes. First with the gripes... This is the first dining venue on ANY cruise that limits how many items you can order. I was surprised by this policy especially after spending $35/pp for the dining experience. Second, the rubbed rib eye was not the best rib eye I've eaten... it was a bit dry, tough, and chewy for a rib eye steak. On the other hand, the surf and turf filet/lobster combo was really good.
Italian Restaurant (4 stars)
The menu has a limited number of options, but the food was good overall. It's a more casual dining experience.
Casino Games (3.5 stars)
The casino was hopping every night... for those hard core gamblers, they do offer very nice betting ranges for low limit tables, $6-$500, $10-$1000, $25-$2500 on blackjack and $5-$500 on craps. One big $20K slot jackpot was won during the middle of the cruise on a $5 machine. I didn't see many big rolls on the craps table. Blackjack table conditions are not really good. Shoe dealt blackjack is called Fun 21 aka Spanish 21 - this is a "house" game and bad game for players. The real blackjack game is available only with continuous shuffling machines. They do not offer shoe dealt blackjack games even at the $25 level.
Casino Staff (4.5 stars)
The casino staff was overall a happy go lucky staff. Lester is the casino clown of them all and had a great time with him. If you sail the ship, let him know Will.I.Am said Hi!
I covered a lot here... but there's a lot I still didn't touch upon... feel free to ping me if you have any other questions!