To start off with a bit of background, we are experienced cruisers having taken almost 40 cruises already (mostly in the Caribbean). We are platinum on Carnival and this was our 17th cruise with the line. To say that we were disappointed was an understatement. Our bad experience actually caused us to get a cruise critic account and write a bad review. This is my first review so bear with me.
To start, embarkation was relatively uneventful. We were running late and arrived at the terminal at around 2:45. The new terminal Carnival uses is nice and functional. Check-in was smooth and we were on the ship in a matter of 15 minutes. Our first bad experience came from lunch. Naturally, we expected the lido to be closed due to our late arrival, but this was such a violent shut down. The crew uses some shades they lower in front of the dishes. The crew was literally pushing people away and yelling for them to stop getting in line. I understand crowd control but this was ridiculous. We managed to grab some small selections right before they closed. The food was greasy and cold but it held us to dinner. Dinner was alright. We were in the Sapphire, with your time dining. We went nice and early and had nice seats. The restaurant is nice, not too audacious and gives a relaxing vibe. The food was below average. Every course was cold, and the food was cheap. Redfish and fried chicken on a cruise line, in the dining room? Wow.
The second day was relaxing with the majority of the day spent in the cabin. The ship was full so many of the public areas were packed. There wasn't much to do on the ship, most of the activities were shopping based or by the pool but the ship was so full that being by the pool really didn't feel fun. Breakfast was standard cruise ship (but toned down a lot) breakfast throughout the entire week I noticed they were missing usual staples such as hash browns or even ham. Not too impressed. We ate lunch from the Blue Iguana and I must say it is pretty good, it's just annoying have to tell the crew to put extra chicken in your burrito because two small pieces isn't enough (the attitude they had wasn't very fun either, the food was tasty though). I don't eat burgers but everyone else in the family said that the burgers were very good, just a bit too greasy. Tonight was elegant night, which leads me to a whole other topic. People really don't respect elegant night anymore do they? For the first time I saw shorts in a dining room on elegant night. Plenty of people without ties, jackets, even button-down shirts (normal days were even worse but I am guilty of not going too dressy once or twice). Dinner was again mediocre, the lobster tasted old. The waiter we got this time forgot two courses and finally the lady at the front forgot to give us a pager and said it was our fault for not asking for one. Not the best night.
Next day was Grand Turk, which we did not get down due to the fact that we had already been there a few times and seen everything. It was moderately rainy as well. Arrival was early, and departure was on time, couldn't complain about that. We rode the watersides while the ship was empty, very fun, definitely a highlight of the ship. At night we went to eat at the Italian restaurant, Cucina del Capitano. It was probably the best and most satisfying meal we had all cruise. The staff was friendly, and attentive (not the best but certainly the best all cruise) and the food was delicious. Absolutely no complaints.
Next day was La Romana, which was to put it lightly, bad. We opted to take a bus ride to the city and explore the town. The bus left us in a tourist trap where honestly, thank God we speak fluent spanish and knew how to say no, but if you didn't speak spanish I could have honestly seen you having a horrible time. I said more in a destination report. Dinner was in the lido tonight and the food was at least hot, not necessarily tasty but hot.
Next day was Curaçao. What a beautiful island, though we sadly didn't get down, from the ship it looked like it might have been wonderful. You could see the dutch influence in the buildings and it looked really historic. The city was really pretty at night too. That night we ate at the steakhouse, Farenheit 555. The food was alright, nothing too special, the prime rib was very good but the others' filet mignon was average. The food is pretty good but I'm still not sure if its worth the $35 per person cover charge.
After Curaçao was Aruba. This was definitely our favorite island. We opted to take a shore excursion that took us on a catamaran cruise/snorkel. The meet-up was a bit disorganized but the shore excursion was a blast with beautiful views of the ships, island, and water. The water was the clearest I've seen in the Caribbean in a long time. The reefs and wreck we visited were full of life as well. It was stunning. After the excursion we went to some shops around the port, they were nice too. What a wonderful way to spend thanksgiving day. Heres the disappointment of the night. The dining room menu only had one thanksgiving item, turkey and baked potato. The lido was the same story as well. You couldn't even find apple pie! It really sucked that we didn't have a proper thanksgiving dinner. Even on Costa and Holland America, traditional thanksgiving meals were served. Still waiting to have my turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes.
The last two days at sea were pretty boring. More shows and sales for shopping was about it. Bingo was there as well but they were probably the cheapest games I've ever seen, except for the coverall at the end of the cruise which was $10,00 (no one won before the 46 turns so it went down to $1,000). The "Chocolate Extravaganza" was okay, they've really reduced the selection. Brunch in the Blush dining room was horrid. My huevos rancheros were raw (They didn't even look cooked in any way shape or form), our bagels were either not toasted at all or black, the croissants were like rocks, and the coffee was watery. Not to mention that they sat us in probably the worst table in the entire restaurant.
Disembarkation was a nightmare. The worst we've every experienced. First the ship was delayed in arrival to the port and no clear information was given until 7:30 (!). We had priority debarkation and went down at our scheduled time with an ok from the staff. Apparently, half of the number three had been put on the carousel and the other half was not. Plenty of VIP's and Platinum guests were there waiting from 7:45 to 8:15 waiting for the bags to show up. To top it all off, the carousel (Carousel C) breaks. So now the terminal area is backed up to no end with people ranging from VIP's, Platinums, and people with early flights. Finally after arguing about what they should do for 30 minutes they decided to put all the leftover three's on Carousel B. Within five minutes of putting the luggage on Carousel B, Carousel C starts up again. So now people are scrambling between both carousels trying to find their luggage. It is now 9:00 and we have finally got our luggage and head to customs. Thankfully, we beat the rush of people and were out through customs in two minutes. I feel bad for the people who had flights to catch early on. Thankfully we drove (we live only about 40 minutes from the port). What a bad way to end the cruise.
In summary, the food is mediocre if you're not willing to pay. Selection is pretty good but a lot of things either just don't taste good or don't belong in a classy dining setting. The Indian Tandoor was obviously not very authentic but was probably the best tasting of the group of foods in the lido. The pizza was hit or miss, sometimes it would be thin crust and very cheesy (the way we like it) or soggy and greasy. The pasta bar in the Italian restaurant was actually delicious, a very good concept. The comfort food section was gross, we found hair in our food in three occasions. The C-side BBQ was not very good either. You could probably build a tastier salad at your local Chuck E. Cheese than at the lido buffet. I already commented on the Blue Iguana and burger bar above.
The service was the worst we've had on any Carnival ship, or cruise in general. There was no attentiveness or problem-solving initiative. There was no idea of customer service. We were even insulted by a group of crew in the lido and laughed at. It was not just us, many other platinums and VIP's we spoke with had the same opinion.
The entertainment was cheap. What happened to shows with actual dialogue? Shows that weren't just peformers doing covers of songs from the 80's? Don't get me wrong, the cast had talent, but I feel like it was being wasted with these cheap shows.
Even the kid's program was below our expectations. The smallest in the family, a nine year old little girl commonly complained of the counselors just sitting back and letting the kids do whatever they want and canceling activities, not to mention the fact that anything that was considered fun was an up charge. The other child, a fifteen year old boy did not have so many complaints about Club 02. The only thing about Club 02 is the lack of organized activities. It's really just a room for teens to hang out, and theres barely any supervision as well.
The spa was decent although not much was provided. It could obviously be better.
To speak positively about the Breeze, the price was hard to beat. The decor was actually very "cute". It definitely promoted relaxation and did not feel to cheap. The Lanai is a fantastic idea and was probably one of the best areas on the ship. The ship itself is very nice, and moderately clean.The sports court and waterworks were stellar and provided great fun. As said above the Italian restaurant was delicious. Our cabin was also very clean too. Room service never took long (though you would have to wait on hold forever). The fitness center was very modern, and I guess the crowd didn't like it as it was almost always near empty. Basically the hard product the Breeze gives you is great and does not need much improvement. It's the soft product that is lacking. I feel as if they had a different crew and new chefs that the ship could very well be the jewel of the Carnival fleet.
In conclusion, this will probably be our last carnival cruise for a while. Our last one was on the Carnival Liberty in March 2012 and though it wasn't too bad, we had already begun to see a decline in quality since then. It's just not as good as it once was, and we have been sailing with them since the 90's! Thanks for reading.