Departed from Tampa-got to the port at, 12, dropped off our bags in our room by 12:30. The only negative experience was the person "in charge" of herding us to the counters---I saw a paddle waving, she did not, and she got nasty...until I pointed it out to her (she wasted everyone's time arguing with me. duh).
Cabin-small, as expected. Big window, thankfully. Because we wanted a king, there was no floorspace to speak of. Didn't really care-we spend little time in the room. The rooms show the ship's age, much more than the common areas do. We did have a problem with the toilet..night one, you'd push the button--and it would flush five minutes later; night two? Nothing at all. Called Wira, our room steward. Within 10 minutes someone was at the door. Problem resolved-no more issues for the remainder of the cruise. Beds were comfortable; room nice and cool. Bathroom-decent size. It was pretty clean, but the closet doors could use a good scrubbing and/or repainting/refinishing.
First afternoon we met our room steward, Wira. First night? No bed turndown, chocolates, or animals. I had forgotten about that until we met our friends at dinner-and they asked "what animal?" Was disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things? Meh. That changed, and we got animals, chocolates, and turn downs every night...except the last night-no animal. :-) We didn't ask for any assistance during the cruise, but I have no doubt had we asked, it would have been provided quickly.
We traveled with 8 others-all adults, no children. Because of this, we did more on the ship than we normally would have-played trivia (and won several), saw the comedy show one night, danced nearly every night, karaoke (I watched my friends...ha!) They tried to convince my husband and I to do the formal night show..when I heard the "lineup" of songs/entertainers they would be emulating, I took a pass...all country. My friends (some) like country, but at dinner, they said it was really awful-more "HeeHaw." My country music loving friends really disliked it. They were also surprised that the cruise director, Steve, played the fiddle (the next night he juggled-missed that too...).
One night we decided to hit the comedy show. It was weird-that night, they only had ONE "adult" show scheduled--at 11:30. Every other night there were two shows-10 and 11. We enjoyed it...Jerry...? Was a ventriloquist. If you are offended by adult humor, skip it. I'm not. Little offends me. :-)
We loved dancing in at "Rex" nearly every night. Different themes-one night it was ladies' night from 10-11 (free glass of champagne). 70s-80s night, Latin...the music was good. Old school for those of us of a "certain age," and more current music.
Never did the piano bar, watched a movie ("Gravity") or used the pools. I don't know if the pools are newer Carnival ships are bigger, but the three ships I've been on? Tooo tiny! We DID like the "Serenity" area-over 21-but it was not easy scoring a chair or lounger. There's a hot tub out there, a shower, towels, and bar service-all at the back of the ship. Our last day the husband was able to grab two loungers and get them in the shade...when it was later in the day, people left and we moved up to the rail, watching Cozumel get further and further away.
Food-everyone wants to know about the food, right?
Lido buffets: Mongolian Wok, pretty good. Grabbed lunch from there twice; had a hot dog one day. There is a deli/hot sandwich station (think paninis); the pizza place, and the buffet, which changed daily-(American, French, Italian-never ate at that station). Ice cream, of course, and the desserts.
Dinner, late seating, in the Destiny dining room. We had a table for 10. We were lucky enough to have Joey as our waiter-not only did he remember all of our names, he remembered little things-like my husband likes water without ice. He would suggest things and encourage my husband (big guy-not big as in "needs to lose weight," but big as in "do you play pro ball" big) to try multiple appetizers and entrees. A friend traveling with us got sick on night two-pneumonia-and he arranged for her meals to be delivered (dining room meals-not the standard room service meals). He did that for three nights, since she was completely bedridden. He was great-attentive-nothing every threw him. Great guy--he's taking a few months off soon, then sailing on a ship out of Miami--so hurry! :-)
The food itself was good, for the most part. Of course, we all loved lobster. One night, the husband ordered two entrees...one was the lasagna...he said it was waaaay too salty, and didn't eat but a bite. For the most part, we were all happy with what we ordered, and in the rare case of the off entree (Penne mariscos-our friend didn't like it), another meal was suggested and brought. Of course, everyone had the warm chocolate melting cake EVERY NIGHT...Still as good as it was on my first carnival cruise in '05.
The service at dinner was impeccable-thanks to Joey-who has this great attitude and personality. (He spoon fed the husband one night, while we looked on, hysterically laughing).
They have added the SeaDay Brunch to this ship. This is a sit down brunch in the Elation dining room and ends at 1, allowing you to sleep in. My husband loved this on the two sea days. The menu options were pretty good-he had he steak and eggs (filet mignon) and a few other items. The service was a bit SLOW.
The day we went to Cozumel, we had breakfast in the Elation dining room with our friends--and good grief-the service wasn't great, it was slow, and the waiters had a bit of an attitude. We were happy our evening waiter was not like those guys!
This was the first time we booked excursions through the ship-we did the Allura Catamaran to Sting Ray City-there were 15 of us on board...the water was choppy-and as we left they shut the sand bar down, bcz boats could not drop anchor. The crew was great, the price good, and we had a nice time.
Booked the Power Catamaran to Isla Pasion. This was our second trip there. It's a bit more "formal," but the food was still good, drinks (adult and otherwise) still free; beach service, water "toys,"...a GREAT relaxing day. It was a 5 hour expedition, so we had enough time to wander a bit and do some shopping.
Our ship docked several hours (4-5) late in Tampa due to the crazy fog. They set up trivia games (yay, we won again!) and set up lunch on the Lido, since no one was able to disembark until 1:30. They took a difficult situation and rolled with it. They allowed people to remain in their cabins until 11:30 and ran "Gravity" as well.
It's an older ship-she is showing her age. It's a budget trip as well. If you keep those things in mind, and keep your expectations in check, you will not be disappointed. The cruise was exactly what I expected it to be. On the shuttle back to the parking lot, the man talking to my husband said it was the "worst cruise" he's ever taken. He knew the itinerary when he booked-that should not have been a surprise; the price point was not a surprise...for the money? It was a great deal.
We also cruised with 8 others..and I truly think had we been on the Concordia, this group would have made the best of it.
Just know your ships before you go, and adjust your expectations. We probably won't sail this ship again, but mainly because we've decided-we like balcony rooms much more and will not sail again without one.