This was our fifth cruise overall, and our second with Carnival, first on the Breeze. Like a lot of other passengers we met, we experienced some challenges getting to Miami due to horrible winter winter throughout the eastern half of the country. Our flight out of Moline, Illinois for Friday morning was canceled late Thursday, and we had to drive three hours to Chicago Midway in the middle of the night to make our connection, but once we boarded our flight, our travel problems were over. We stayed Friday night in a very nice Hampton Inn and Suites in Doral, and took a van with another couple to the Port. The charge was $55 per couple, almost exactly the same as a taxi cost to come back to the hotel the day we returned.
We were told not to arrive before 1 pm, but we got there about 11:55 am, and the embarkation process went very smoothly, and we were on board ship by about 12:20. Our cabin was not quite ready, so we headed up to the Lido deck for what would be the first of many lunches at Guy Fieri's hamburger joint. We were able to get into our cabin and unpack by about 1:30. We had a "cove balcony," which was located on the second deck. It was a great location, very close to the forward elevators Our departure time was held up for about 75 minutes to accommodate some of the late-arriving passengers effected by the bad weather.
First some notes on the ship itself. It is the most recent addition to the Carnival fleet, and it is a beautiful ship that we found to be in spotless condition. We had to ask our cabin steward to re-configure the single beds into a queen-size, which he did immediately, and he kept our room very clean and supplied with fresh towels throughout the cruise. The cove balcony cabins are only about 30 feet above the water, and when you are cruising, you really get an enhanced sense of being at sea with the crashing waves so close.
There was really a wide variety of age groups represented on this cruise, with a surprisingly large number of kids, but most were well-behaved and never caused us any concern with regard to excessive noise or running around late at night.
I would rate the food overall as "good." The Lido deck buffet stations were what you would expect, pretty good variety and the lines were never overly long. The made-to-order omelets were very good. We had selected "anytime" seating, which meant all of our dining room dinners were on the third deck of the Sapphire Room, which was the forward restaurant. Those with assigned dining times were on the fourth deck of the Sapphire Room and both decks of the Blush Restaurant at the aft of the ship. We were able to eat brunch in the Blush Room twice. It was only open for brunch on sea days, but the food was very good and the ocean views were spectacular.
The dinner menus in the Sapphire Room were varied, but nothing special in terms of quality. I selected prime rib on two occasions and was disappointed with both. If you order a baked potato, be sure and stress to your waiter to make sure it is cooked all the way through. Since we sat at different tables every night, I don't think we ever had the same wait staff, but we had no complaints with the service at any time, and we never had to wait more than a few minutes between courses. My wife really enjoys the opportunity to meet people and our dinners gave us the opportunity to do that. On prior cruises, we have often been seated at tables for eight. On the Breeze, there seemed to be a lot of tables for two, that are set up very close to other tables for two. We were able to enjoy conversations with people at the adjoining tables, but it wasn't really like we were "sharing" a table.
We never took the opportunity to check out the Italian restaurant or the Steakhouse, although most of the comments we heard about them were positive. As far as the rest of the ship's restaurants, we didn't try the Sushi restaurant, the Indian restaurant of the Blue Iguana Mexican restaurant. As I mentioned earlier, I ate lunch most days at Guy's Burger Joint, which I recommend highly. There is also a 24-hour pizza restaurant.
On one of the sea days, we tried Fat Jimmy's C-Side Bar-B-Q on deck 5. The line was very long, but it moved along pretty well. The food was OK, but not hot.
As far as shipboard entertainment, we attended two of the shows: "Latin Nights" on Friday, and "60s British Invasion" on Saturday. The singers and dancers were talented enough, but the overall presentations were just fair, although we liked the '60s British show more than "Latin Nights." Far more enjoyable, in terms of entertainment, was the George Lopez "Punchliner" Comedy Club. We attended the "adults only" sessions all five nights they were available, and had a great time each night. We saw one show each by Jaylyn Bishop, Mike Lukas and Just June, and two by Pat Godwin. If I were rating these comics, I would give a solid "A" to the first three and an "A+" for Pat Godwin. The venue for the comedy is the Limelight Lounge, and it is not a particularly big room. I'd recommend getting there at least a half hour before show time, but it was definitely worth the effort.
With regard to the ports.....Monday, we were in Grand Turk until we sailed at 1:30 pm. Grand Turk is a very small island, and we spent the morning at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Restaurant, which featured a swimming pool which wound its way through the property, where you could pick out a deck chair and enjoy the sun, the pool and a beverage or two, which was very relaxing.
Tuesday, we docked in La Romana in the Dominican Republic, and took the Carnival tour to Altos de Chavon, where we ate lunch and explored the town. On Wednesday in Curacao, we just went on our own, walking around the town for several hours....one suggestion, don't get too far off the main streets, as it gets a little dicey once you stray a couple of blocks from the river. On Thursday in Aruba, we found a tour for about half of what the Carnival tour was asking, and we spent about three hours checking out a variety of scenic locations and beaches. After lunch on the ship, we went back for another hour or two checking out the shops within walking distance of the ship. No beaches, no snorkeling this trip, just some slow paced walking and window shopping.
To sum up our cruise, any time you can get away from snow and below zero temperatures, it can't possibly be a bad thing, so I would rate our cruise experience as very good. This ship itself is fantastic, the weather was perfect, we met a lot of very friendly people, the hot tubs were warm and relaxing, and we found the ship's crew to be friendly and accommodating. Don't miss the Punchliner Comedy Club or Guy's Burger Joint. We would certainly be happy to take another cruise on the Breeze.