This was our 9th cruise and the third with Carnival. It was a last minute booking so we knew it was a 6 day cruise shortened to 4 day before we booked but we did get an excellent rate for a balcony cabin. In fact the rates were so attractive that I called my PVP back and asked about taking our daughter with us. She got an inside cabin opposite ours all to herself for a very good price. As far as we are concerned, any time we are cruising is enjoyable and relaxing and while we enjoyed this cruise and felt it was good value, I would have to rate it number 9 of the 9 cruises we have taken.
Parking and Embarkation. We drove to Port Everglades, dropped off the luggage, and were directed to the parking garage we have used before. When we arrived there we were told it was full (and had been since Sunday) and were told to go to Northport (Convention Center). We eventually found our way there, parked and then the three of us along with about twenty others wandered aimlessly around the car park trying to find a shuttle location. Twenty minutes later a shuttle arrived and off we went. The check in line was the longest we have ever seen and was moving extremely slowly. It took us about three hours from dropping off the luggage to getting on board.
The rooms were ready and very clean. Our luggage made it to the rooms before we did! We met the cabin steward who was pleasant and did an adequate job throughout the cruise (not outstanding or overly friendly-just adequate). We were on the Lido deck so walked to the buffet for lunch. As others have reported, everything was served by crewmembers and the process was very slow with lines for the drinks section causing bottlenecks and making moving around difficult. We were disappointed that the fish and chip section never opened. The food was edible but uninspiring. Desserts were tasteless in general. After lunch we unpacked, explored the ship and waited for the lifeboat drill. This, along with many other things on this cruise, was late starting. We had late dining in the Silver Olympian. The dining rooms doors were late opening and this is the first time on any cruise we were not shown to our table. The hostess pointed in the general direction of the table. Our waiter, Butu introduced himself, but his assistant never did (not that we was there much!) all I will say about this first dinner was that it took one hour and ten minutes from the time we sat down to our starter appearing at the table. The main complaint throughout the cruise was the poor level of service compared with previous cruises. We enjoyed our time in Key West and strolled around some of our favorite places before returning to the ship.
Cozumel has certainly made a tremendous recovery since we were there in November 2005 on the Glory. It was great to dock at the pier and stroll into town. We wandered around and did some shopping and sightseeing. Luckily the weather was warmer in Cozumel. I did feel sorry for some people on this cruise who had obviously been expecting much warmed weather. Some general comments: Service in the dining room - very slow, even after the first day we were amongst the last to leave and there were only the three of us at a booth for four. Slow service and long lines in general. Entertainment - Average to poor. First production show was very poor, second was better but not outstanding. Hypnotists - okay. Adult comedian - old tired jokes, relied to bad language for humor - we left. Enjoyed toe classical trio and the pianist. We to one of the dance classes and waited for 15 minutes but no instructor ever turned up so we left. Food - average (often cold although this may have been because our servers were so slow). This is the first cruise we never even met the maitre'd. He did not come to any of the tables in our area. I don't know if he visited other areas or not. We enjoyed spending quite time sitting and reading. The ship seemed quite crowded and so we really enjoyed to peace and quiet on the balcony. Debarkation was awful. We chose self assist which we have done before, but it was chaos. It was late starting and when deck 9 was called it was impossible to get out of the elevator because the hallway was packed. As we were eventually entering the terminal building, a crew member was trying to push a sick girl in a wheelchair through the crowd towards immigration. Not a pleasant experience for the girl in the chair, her family following along behind or those of us in line with cases. Customs and immigration were quick and then we were loaded onto a shuttle back to the carpark. This driver kept loading in cases and then could not get everyone in! All in all we still enjoyed our cruise. We found time to relax, spend time with our daughter who lives in Florida (we live in Georgia) and despite the quality of the food, we still gained a pound or two. We only hope that our November 18th cruise on Carnival Legend has better service and food. Cruising still beats working!