Had high hopes for this, my first (and last) Carnival cruise. I had heard food was awesome and entertainment non-stop. Not true!
Three shows--Divas, Motown, and Latin Nights. All forgettable, except the ringing in my ears from all of it being presented at ear-damaging decibel levels. I used the earplugs I brought to drown out my cabin-mate’s snoring to make the shows safe to watch. Dancers were heavy-footed and I have seen high school dance teams perform with better synchronicity. Many performances were clearly lip-synched. Where are the options like Hairspray, Chicago and Cirque du Soleil?
Hasbro the Game Show--boring if you or a loved one is not one of the 10 people picked to be "part of the action."
Punchliner Comedy Club--not very funny. Saw 3 of 5 comedians. My local funny bone club far eclipses anything I saw here. To add insult to injury at the last "family friendly" show I attended the guy talked about Viagra, roofies, drug use, and encouraged the kids to play with their parents' toys in the bedside drawer.
Camel Club Casino--needs better ventilation, very smoky. Also apparently at war with the stage off to the side where multiple trivia/smaller acts were playing. Most of the time the announcements from the stage and the casino were painfully loud and on the last night I attended the "singer" was screaming.
The only redeeming acts were Latin Sugar (they have smooth and powerful voices) and the guy in the piano bar. The table magician at dinner was good, but his act translated very poorly to a bigger stage.
Lido--same exact food every day. Seriously lacking anything you could call a salad bar (where are the raw veggies people?) and the only fruit available was melon, grapefruit, and kiwi. Apples, oranges, and pears were piled up for decor but way out of guests' reach. To be fair, I was always given one if I could flag down a food service staff person and ask for it. I asked for pineapple, any kind of berry, even grapes, and they acted as if I were an alien. After a serious meltdown at brunch one day they did relent and serve me a plate of pineapple chunks and grapes—just thrown on the plate—not even neatly piled. It was clear the kitchen was peeved at the request. I was also very disappointed in the deserts. All cake, pastry, cheesecake and jello-type items are stored underneath the buffet on uncovered cookie sheets. The result is dry, stale-tasting desserts that are less appealing than whatever you can defrost from the freezer section of your grocery.
Platinum Dining Room--Wait staff (Anthony, Mark, and Rolando) were the best part of anything in this room. Fast and funny, cheerful and accommodating despite punishing schedules, these guys (and my tablemates) made dinner worth attending. The food was the new American Table concept. It is an EPIC FAILURE! The idea is that you order from a list of 4-5 appetizers, 4-5 pre-plated entrees, and 4-5 desserts. You could also order from 4-5 additional side items. That means if you want 2 lobster tails (and they are only offered on 1 night of a 7-day cruise) you have to order two entree plates complete with whatever they decide to put on the plate with it. You want asparagus? Too bad, your entrée comes with green beans and rice. Can you order the asparagus that is on the pork entree as a separate side? No, it is not on the pre-approved list. Since everything is pre-plated it sits around in the warmer. This led to chronically dry and overcooked meats, mushy vegetables, and warm salads. One poor fellow at our table asked for a medium rare steak only to have to send it back 3 times as every steak they brought was medium-well or well-done. He just ate the last medium-well one in self-defense, but he did joke about needing a chainsaw to cut it. I tried to sample the chocolate smear of plate décor with desert one night and had to really scrub at it with fork times to get it un-welded from the plate.
Planning to circumvent the system, (and hopefully create a lot of waste to completely negate the cost savings this new dining plan may offer Carnival) I decided to just order multiple entrées one night and compile the plate of what I wanted to eat. No go. They will serve you one entrée at a time. So you have to eat the dirty rice you wanted from one entrée and then you can get the pork chops you wanted from another entrée and so on.
Do not waste your time or money! On the Carnival “Two Island Snorkel and Beach” excursion 85 of my new best friends and I crammed onto a boat being told “Spread out—the boat is set up to carry 130!” Seriously? We were sitting on top of each other. The lady who sat next to me asked the young woman perched in the middle of a bench to pick a side and sit on it so she could sit down. At snorkel site #1 we all jumped in the water scaring the bejesus out of any living creature already there. By staying behind the group I was able to see two fish and one turtle once everyone splashed 200 yards away. Unfortunately, when I went to re-join the group other boats were collecting their snorkelers and starting to sail away so they warned me to stay back. So I missed snorkel location #2. Can you really call it a second location when it is 200 yards away? The operator spoke as if we would see two very different areas. It was only as I re-boarded the ship that I found out Carnival needs to invest in some punctuation. The trip that I believed to be two distinct snorkeling locations and a beach hop was really “Two Island: Snorkel and Beach.” And the beach….they dropped us off on a rocky-bottomed beach 15 feet from the sand, in 5 feet of water. Good luck getting that towel to the beach dry!
Tons of storage! Could not believe I had worried about where I’d put stuff before I sailed. Although I would like to say thanks to the person who suggested the over-the-door shoe caddy for the bathroom. Genius! And my cabin steward did an amazing job in keeping it clean and stocked with the ice we requested. I thought I just took extra-long showers and that was why my bathroom flooded every night. After three days of it I checked with my dinner companions who assured me that was NOT normal. Called for maintenance to check it out as well as the fact that our room was always 75 degrees or more with the air conditioning on full blast. (Bear in mind outside temps were in the high 60s to low 80s). To their credit, the maintenance crew came to check things out amazingly fast. Then they snaked the shower drain leaving a pile of sand, skin, hair, and what-not I’d rather not speculate about on the shower floor. Now what? Do I rinse it back down the drain and go to square one or do I have to dig out the paper towels I packed and scrape it up? He held the thermometer up to the vent and showed me the air coming out was at 65 degrees. He was just gearing up to politely tell me I was wacko when I pointed out that when he set it down on the counter the thermometer read 78 degrees. More mysterious pounding in the bathroom did lead to vaguely cooler temps in the cabin after that.
These are very convenient and useful if you want to pack light. The machines seem to hold full-size loads. But pack your own Tide detergent pods and bring a roll of quarters. The machines only take quarters and there are no bill changers in the room. A quick trek to the other end of the ship was all it took for guest services to give me quarters for my ones.
To sum up: going anywhere on vacation was a wonderful luxury and I have memories I will definitely treasure. I will just choose a different line than Carnival next time I cruise.