This was our fifth cruise. 4th with Carnival. We were celebrating my husbands 30th birthday. We have 3 small kids and live in Charleston. We were looking for a simple, relaxing getaway. (I feel its important to understand who we are and what we wanted to appreciate the review.)
As a whole, I believe Carnival has gone down as an overall company.
Pros: "Cheers" Alcohol Program, Quality of Shows, Friendly Staff, Laid Back Atmosphere, Proximity to Port, Debarkation Process
Cons: FOOD-Blah-Not many choices, Library Hours too few and short, Limited activities on Days at Sea
A little about the "Cheers" program, according to Carnival's website, only certain ships provide this program, found out day one we could get it also. About $50/person/day - 15 drinks a day up to $10/per, free sodas. The only con is EVERYONE in the same stateroom must purchase program. I believe we spent the same amount with the program as we would have if we purchased drinks separately, but I didn't stress every time I signed one of the receipts for a $10 drink. To me it was worth the money.
I'm a fan of Broadway style shows, so I was not disappointed. The comedy shows were great also, but they held them in a small room in the back of the ship, so you may not always get in.
I had NO complaints about the staff, everyone was very friendly, and by the time we left, they called us by name, maybe because we ordered too many drinks!
If dress code is important to you, you WILL be disappointed. I usually love dressing up, but the atmosphere was so laid back, I felt comfortable going to dinner in a sun dress I would wear over a bathing suit. My husband attended dinner in shorts and a collared shirt. This was the norm. Some dressed up, but they were the minority.
To me, Carnival's food quality and choice has steadily decreased, I agree with a previous review, this may be my last Carnival cruise for a while. I never experienced cold food mentioned by others, but my food was over cooked and servers seemed over worked with sections that were too large to accommodate adequate service. There were nights nothing looked good and I ate several appetizers to feel up rather than main course.
In order to borrow a book or game you must go to the library hour and check these out with your cabin numbers. They were only offered once a day lasting one hour. With the limited options on sea days, a board game would've been nice. On that note, it seemed the only real activity to do on sea day was sun bathing. The did have a 8 hole putt putt course, and it was fun, but you had to play a few times to spend much time on it.
Overall, I believe we got the best vacation for the money spent. I believe vacation is what you make of it. The rooms are not the Ritz, but neither are the prices.