My husband and I have cruised about nine times and this is our first time on Carnival. I wanted to try their new ship and booked it for the itinerary of Aruba and Curacao. We usually get a mini-suite but this time upgraded to an Ocean Suite on deck seven.
We flew into Miami the night before and stayed at the Best Western which arranged a shuttle to the port. We arrived around noon and I was too impressed with the embarkation. It was a very crowded terminal building and finally someone told us which line was for suite passengers. When we got to the end of the line we hit a bunch of people in another lineup! Very strange and confusing. It turned out that our service desk was on the other side of the line-up so we had to cut through them to get set-up by a clerk.
But that was only part one. Then we had to go to another waiting area where there were about 40 passengers waiting to get processed. They were called in order of arrival and it was very hard to hear your name since the lady just stood at one end of the room and called your name. Once chairs became available we moved up closer to the front.
It took about 20 minutes for our names to be called and then we went through the check-in process which was very fast.
After that it was on to the ship. By now it was around 1 PM.
We headed down to our cabin and our area had just be opened up to passengers so we were able to drop off our luggage.
Our cabin # 7334 was very nice. Lots of room, jetted tub, two sinks, two large closets and a huge balcony with two chairs, a table and a lounger. We did not find the (king) bed very comfortable but our room attendent fixed that with an extra duvet under the sheet. The air-conditioning was very good and the service was beyond excellent. No problems at all with our cabin.
We did not realize it when we booked this cruise but apparently it was spring break for most of the USA.
Had I known that I would have booked a later date. We found the ship very noisy at night due to the number of children and teenagers running all over the ship especially after 10:30 at night. Of course this is not something the cruise line can fix.
FOOD - I really liked the buffet area on deck 10. It was never crowded, usually quiet and very nicely decorated. The food however was not so good. Most of the meat at the carving station was tough, the baked potatoes were not cooked enough (hard) and they often did not have butter. There was enough to eat and a decent selection but there could have been much more.
Main Dining Room - we had anytime dining and ate there three times. The wait staff were wonderful and fun. The food was very good except for the baked potatoes which were undercooked. The warm chocolate melting cake was to die for! DH enjoyed the lobster tail and I had prime rib twice.
Entertainment - We attended two of the musical/dance shows and the only saving grace were the special technical effects which were amazing. The main level seating is not elevated so you could have your view blocked by others sitting in front. We sat in the balcony and that was much better.
The comedy magician was pretty bad and boring. It seems they all do the same tricks (ropes, cards,money). I would not go again.
Punchliner Comedy club - we went to two of the adults only shows and the guy was hilarious but the woman was not as funny.
Pools, etc. - There were lots of loungers and a lot of them in shaded areas which was great. However the main pool was often full of kids. The water park is very impressive and I am sure the children really enjoyed it. We did play a couple of rounds of mini-golf which you had to do early in the day before it got crowded and hot. There are also two pool tables on the deck but we never played. Nice idea.
Serenity - this is the adults only area on deck 15 and has padded loungers, beds, etc. We spent a lot of time up here and I had two problems. One is getting to this deck. There is only ONE tiny, slow elevator which goes from deck 11 to deck 15. You have to walk through the spa on deck 12 to find it. Otherwise you have to climb two or three sets of stairs from the pool decks. Not fun if you have bad knees.
Also, the second swimming pool (which seems to be mostly for adults) is at the BACK of the ship and the serenity area is at the front of the ship. So you are in for a long, hot hike if you want to take a dip.
The internet on the ship was excellent. Lots of places to find computer centers.
NOISE - This was a major problem and one that is not going to go away. This is the way that this ship and probably any new ones are going to be built. One of the things I enjoy about cruising is to be able to go out on my balcony and look down at the ocean AND sit out and read while enjoying some peace and quiet. Not anymore. We were on Deck 7 FWD and on deck 5 there is a large whirlpool hottub that holds about 15 or more people. Deck 5 sticks out so that when you looked down from our balcony that is what you saw. There is also an open cafe area called Ocean Plaza with chairs, tables and umbrellas. When the hot tub and the cafe are full of people it is very noisy and you can not longer enjoy your balcony.
Decor - This is a personal preference but I was not impressed with the colour scheme at all. Yellow and brown everywhere or yellow and eggplant purple. I did not find it attractive at all. In the Sapphire dining room the view out the windows was of lifeboats.
Disembarkation - This went very smoothly and we were in a taxi in about 20 minutes.
Excursions - This cruise stopped at La Romana, DR, Grand Turk, Aruba and Curacao. We booked ship excursions on each island except Grand Turk. Cabana Beach (Seaquarium) in Curacao was very nice. I will review the excursions on the Carnival website.
I don't think we will be cruising with Carnival again as we both enjoy NCL ships more.