Well - my cruise started Sunday, Feb 9 with a major fog delay. Mother Nature - no one to blame. We finally began what I'll call "cruise of the lines" by lining up at the parking facility. After going thru that process, we got to the port at about 6:00pm to start the maze of lines. Got thru all of that mess to sit & wait til 11pm to finally board the ship. The port process should have been a sign to us as to how the cruise would go. It was very chaotic. Lots of people with only vending machines & little to NO communication about what was going on. I would say that this is the port issue & not Carnival's fault ... however, Carnival should take full responsibility for ensuring that communication is done on a frequent basis as there is Carnival branding everywhere! Better communication could have helped change my opinion of what a poor job was done.
Lesson: Waiting in line at parking facility put us far back in the process at port. Choosing to carry-on bags given the delays was a definite mistake.
So, muster was at 1am. Not happy about that but did want to leave port when fog cleared. But, it was not until Monday morning about 9am or 10am when we finally departed. Our Key West port was changed from Tuesday to Friday. This was OK with us but the timing on the other ports of call were adjusted. Not very happy about that. Anyway - we were on our way.
FOOD - During the cruise, the food in the buffet was poor in quality & temperature, choices were very limited, & lines VERY long. We thought this would change as the cruise progressed, but to our dismay we were wrong. Steakhouse food was excellent & service there was excellent (we even had a large party of 10 diners). Kudo's to Steakhouse. Also, the Italian restaurant was very good. The sandwich bar & Tandoori station at the back of the ship on 10th floor were our mainstays! Sandwiches were VERY good. Pizza was good, hot dogs & hamburgers were good too. We had "my time" dining. Generally food was OK -- just not as good as normal for the dining room.
Lesson: Choose anything except the buffets & you should be OK.
We chose excursions off of the ship at Freeport & Nassau. We chose a Carnival excursion for Key West. So - I'm less than satisfied with the service received from Guest Services with respect to getting our tickets. We ordered the morning before so that there would be plenty of time for delivery of our tickets prior to our Key West port of call. Long story short - I had to personally visit Guest Services 3 times to finally get our tickets. The 3rd time was on the morning of the port & they were already letting people off of the ship. I registered my dissatisfaction with them.
Lesson: Careful about excursions off of the ship -- can't believe everything you read on the internet about how good places are. Nassau was a happy accident where we ended up getting a personal taxi to take us around for the day & show us a little of all of Nassau. Ensure you get your tickets ahead of time it choosing excursions on the ship.
There was a medical emergency onboard that caused about a 4 hour or more backtrack to get helicopters to come out & airlift a passenger off the ship. This was something that was needed & could have happened on any cruise or trip anywhere. There was fairly frequent communication about this over the speaker system - much appreciated.
So, next morning we were estimated to be reaching Galveston around 10:30am. There was NO updated communication until about 10am. UNACCEPTABLE as by this time, people assumed what they needed to do in order to disembark. Again with the lines!
Lesson: The disembarkation process was a little better than the embarkation process but not by much.