This was my 22nd cruise (all with Carnival), and my second on the Breeze in the last 10 months. Although this review will include elements from both of my sailings, I will focus on our most recent sailing of April 6, 2014 (6 day Western Caribbean).
I will first admit that despite enjoying our first Breeze cruise in August 2013, this second sailing was NOT my first choice. We selected it last-minute out out of necessity. (My better half is starting a new job, so this was our one last hurrah for a little while...) However, by the end of the cruise I had to admit that the Breeze has replaced the Liberty as my favorite of the 13 Carnival ships on which I've sailed. I'll break down what worked for this cruise, and what didn't:
- My first go-round on the Breeze, I wasn't 100% sold on the more subdued, less 'Vegasy' (i.e. tacky) decor. However, I've since come around - the ship's decor is soothing and lovely. I still love the tacky Joe Farcus decor of most of the older ships (except those hideous gothic Spirit-class ships), but the Breeze is a nice change of pace for the better.
- Unlike our first busy sailing in August 2013, this particular sailing was obviously undersold, which resulted in a more relaxing and enjoyable experience for both customers AND crew. Lines were smaller or non-existent, and the dining room service in the your-time was MUCH better than it was during our first Breeze sailing. You could tell that the crew had much more time to take care of the smaller crowds. I was amused that the Chair-Savers were still in full swing, even though there was plenty of room for everyone, on every deck. If possible, I would try to sail on a ship this big during non-peak weeks, as the difference in service was THAT different between our first and second Breeze sailings.
- Although we were initially disappointed that our first Cruise Director on the Breeze ('Butch') would NOT be on this cruise, we found his replacement, Pete, to be equally friendly, engaging, and lively. We recognized him as being from the Ecstasy, which we also sailed on last year. Thanks for the memories and the hard work, Pete :-)
- The Carnival food was business-as-usual. If you've sailed Carnival, you know that means occasionally excellent, usually edible-to-decent, and rarely disgusting. (I'm talking about you, greasy fried shrimp entree.)
- We loved the option of the $12-per-person Italian restaurant, but don't expect the best Italian you've ever, ever had. It's decent, and cheap enough to be worth the experience. Think Macaroni Grill or Maggianos, but with better service.
- As it often happens, we couldn't get off the ship in Grand Cayman because of weather / waves, etc. I was fine with it, but considering how often this happens, I would think that Carnival would be better prepared to come up with a few more Plan-B onboard activities than the handful that were added.
- We loved our Cove balcony - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED - but should have chosen a better location, as we were directly underneath something in the galley that sounded like chairs scraping against the floor, quite loudly. It usually stopped around 11 PM and would start up again around 6 AM. If you think this would bother you, avoid cabin 2414 and its neighboring cabins.
- I hate to say it, but the new Playlist Production shows aren't 'so bad they're good' like the Carnival shows of yesterday; now they're just BORING. You're basically just watching about 8 not-so-great singer/dancers prance and lip-sync in front of a big TV screen for 30 minutes, with almost no actual props. At least in the past you could have fun with the dreadful singing and dancing, because they had real props and a full size cast who TRIED. Now they've replaced much of the cast with 'fake' cast members that are projected on that weird HD sectional screen; this creates the curious effect of appearing both high-tech and exceptionally cheap at the same time. Also, that same hateful HD screen combined with a lack of actual props virtually guarantees that all Playlist production shows look, sound, and feel exactly the same.
Although I try to sail on different ships as much as possible, I would definitely sail on the Breeze a THIRD time under the right circumstances - good price during an off-week peak. Again, the difference in service was noticeably improved during our much-less-busy second sailing. However, I wish they would rely less on that TV screen as a substitute for a cast and props for the shows. I can watch TV at home!