I took my first cruise in March of 2005 after a critical illness and fell in love with the luxury of cruises. My first cruise was on Royal Caribbean, but after that I switched to Carnival. The switch had to do with the expense of being a single cruiser. Initially, I found that although Carnival's onboarding process was not as good as Royal Caribbean's and they did not have free movies on demand in the cabins, Carnival's cabins were larger with better amenities and the food was better. The crowd was and still is much younger than Royal Caribbean.
The Carnival Staff is ALWAYS AWESOME! We had one waiter who was a bit unpleasant about my friend's request for gluten free alternatives, but other than that, the other waiters we had actually ordered gluten free meals for her for the next night and made sure whatever waiter she had knew it was for her. The service was awesome. You can't beat the high energy of a Carnival staff. They are truly caring people, also.
Cruising single can be a lonely thing on Carnival as the pricing tends to attract families and other singles are rare. I tend to avoid cruising during school vacations after a really bad experience on Carnival Breeze in 2013 (wherein 1500 teenagers were let loose on the ship, apparently forgotten by their parents to wreck havoc and generally ruin the cruise for adult passengers who had actually PAID for their own cruises). That is a review for another time.
I like the newer ships better, however, I found a deal on Carnival Liberty for a cruise leaving out of Miami on January 16, 2014. The Liberty is a beautiful ship with the old style of flamboyant decorating Carnival has abandoned. I like it.
Cruise 2.0 has hit Liberty and I do not like it. Basically, Cruise 2.0 means shorter shows. I remember way back to 2006, my first cruise on Carnival, the shows were amazing. There were magicians and professional shows that took up the good part of an evening. The shows are now about 40 minutes, if that. One of my favorite things about the new Carnival is the George Lopez Comedy Club. There were some awesome comedians and I really enjoyed them, but they were on stage for about 20 minutes! Really, Carnival?! Last year when Cruise 2.0 first began, someone joked about cruisers not being able to go more than 30 minutes without eating something so they made the shows shorter. I'm not that jazzed about the new performers. The costumes are beautiful, but every night is a musical and there's little variety.
There's a brand new menu type on Carnival and it takes away a lot of waste, which I like. However, the food was not nearly as good as on other Carnival cruises I've been on. Especially on the Lido deck! Liberty did not have anywhere near the variety that Breeze has, but it makes sense because the Lido deck is about one-half the size. I missed out on the ceviche available almost every day because I didn't even notice there was a second floor to the Lido restaurant until about five days into the cruise. (They say people never look up, but, duh!)
San Juan was my most favorite port and the most interesting. One thing I really noticed on the last couple of cruises is that the cruise ports do not have very many locally made goods like they used to. The 2013 cruise mostly featured ports with goods made in Taiwan and all the vendors had the same thing. Not so in San Juan. There was a beautiful open air market on the water with quality goods made locally. Leather, skin care, etc. They were well-priced. If you like rum and dancing, go on the Rum Mixology and Salsa Dancing shore excursion. Very informative about local history, the history of rum and some fun dancing at a great restaurant.
Okay, now for the thing that I really HATED on Liberty - THE BEDS~! They were so uncomfortable that I did not get one good night's sleep. The cabin was extremely small (Deck 1 - Ocean View). I needed a week to recover from the sleep deprivation on the cruise.
There were a lot of young families on the cruise with babies. I'm single and might try a different cruise line next year after doing some research on where all the single people cruise. I can't seem to find them. Anywhere.