This was our third trip out of NY with Carnival. The other two were with Miracle, a ship we prefer. We caught a direct bus out of Newburgh, as we live North of NY. The bus is run by Yankee Trails and is highly recommended and reasonably priced. Certainly cheaper then parking at the NY Dock.
Sailing out of NY was wonderful as always. It is a thrilling sail away. How foolish for the spa to run their, must be present lottery for spa credit during sail away. I left.
We booked a spa cabin for access to the spa steam,sauna,hot pool, and easy access to the serenity area with it's padded lounge chairs. This turned out to be a waste of extra money. We love spas and use them frequently. This spa was ridiculously overpriced (and we're New Yorkers who travel). They certainly had spa sales where the prices became reasonable ie $60 for a massage, but the offered times for good prices were not. So we went without. As to access to the thallasotherapy pool, they couldn't have made it harder. You had to trade your sail away card for a spa card and get a band around your wrist every single time you wanted to use the pool as it was kept locked. Why not have my sail away card automatically keyed for the spa areas, since I was in a spa cabin? Very inconvenient. Anyway the thallasotherapy pool was empty on various days for " maintenance". And closes at 10 for the night, just when we would have wanted to go in. The cabin itself was standard but had a slightly larger balcony then the others. The Elemis toiletries were lovely. Our steward was perfect. Kept us in ice and emptied the fried so we could use it for our own soda. We brought plastic cups and made ourselves sodas in the room to take out to sit in the sun with.
As to the Serenity area, yes the padded lounge chairs are wonderful, but anyone has access to them and most of the people were not spa cabin people. Also, this area is at the front, top of the ship. It is the coldest and windiest so unusable for the first and last day of the cruise.
Overall it was a relaxing cruise. We laid around for 4 sea days and went to the beach for three shore days. Half Moon Cay was our favorite and we would have been happy just staying there for the three port days. The beach is soft white sand and the water is gorgeous and warm. Lunch is easy right behind the beach. Do pay the $20 for a clamshell as soon as you get there, as they run out midday, when people decide they need them. Clamshells protect two people from two much sun and in case it drizzles. Prop up the back to catch the breeze. Grand Turk beach is so rocky that if you don't have water shoes, you will avoid going in as it is painful. We walked to the free beach in Nassau, Junkaroo and paid $20 for two lounge chairs and an umbrella, and $30 for a shared lunch on the beach. But it's not great. If we go back, we'll go over to Dreams, pay $60 a person and get a better beach, free lunch and free drinks.
We enjoyed most of our meals in the MDR. My husband had the flat iron steak most nights and was quite happy. It does take two hours but our table mates were pleasant and we enjoyed dining with them. We were seated by the window on the edge of the dining room, which sounds wonderful, however the window was filthy and we couldn't see any of the singing and dancing that mostly happened in the center of the dining room. We also used the MDR for breakfast, as we're not buffet people. We realized that the waiters were getting all the food at once, serving your fruit first and letting your eggs or pancakes get cold waiting. They all did this so they must be trained to do this. Very silly. By the last few days we learned to specify that we wanted our hot food first and would have our fruit afterwards. This solved the cold breakfast problem. The MDR was not available for lunch. So we had to use the buffet. We enjoyed the deli sandwiches, but had to go to another station for the fries to go with them. They should have fries available, right where the sandwiches are. The punch liner does not do brunch despite what the advertising says. The MDR had the brunch from about 8-1. Which was breakfast and an excuse not to do lunch.
We enjoyed the shows and comedy. They were amusing and took up our evenings. Our friends enjoyed the piano bar most. Keith was good, but not every night. To get good seats for the shows, you need to be about 15 minutes early. When we came at the last minute our seats were just ok, off to the side and in the rear.
Embarkation and Disembarkation were unremarkable and well organized as they should be.
The captains reception no longer offers free drinks for past customers, so we skipped it. Instead they give you 2 drink coupons to be used in the MDR during brunch. As we only drink in the evening, I used them for cappuccino which is no longer free at breakfast.
I would do this cruise and Carnival again only if the price is extremely advantageous. This must be the general thought as Carnival is in cost saving mode. We paid $1700 for two with transportation and aqua spa balcony cabin. It was too much for what we got, given multiple small disappointments.