We are seasoned travelers, this was my 10th cruise (4th on Carnival) and my partner's 11th cruise (5th on Carnival), and we traveled with my partner's disabled sister. When we booked the cruise, we didn't realize that debarkation day was Easter Sunday. Lets just say, the boat probably had at least 600 kids on board under the age of 16 - it was a LOT of kids (we will probably never do a holiday cruise again). We met a lot of people, many first time cruisers and many seasoned. The first time cruisers thought everything was great. However, the seasoned cruisers were all disappointed.
Overall, the ship is very nice. We had a good time, but not a great time.
- the staff was great with my partner's disabled sister
- the water park on deck 12 was small but very nice and fun, especially for kids. The pool areas and hot tubs are nice.
- cocktails were fairly reasonable in price
- The entertainment schedule was rather odd. Instead of doing two showings of the same show on the same night (early & late), the shows were often split between days.
- The comedy club on the ship only had shows on a couple nights, so we only ended up seeing one show. I was expecting it to have shows every night.
- The buffet had the same exact food every day for breakfast and lunch, and dinners varied only slightly. You get really tired of the buffet really fast. (and my partner ended up with food poisoning one day after breakfast at the buffet. That was not a fun evening)
- The food in the main dining room was average to below average, and not the selection we were expecting, and the selections were repeated several times during the cruise.
- The soda package was very overpriced at $48 plus gratuity, so you end up spending $59 for soda. I highly suggest not buying this unless you have kids that drink soda all day long.
- They had an alcohol package for $49/day. I'm not sure, but I think you had to buy that for all the adults in the cabin and could not buy it for just one. Really overpriced, and you still had to pay gratuity.
- The ship seemed to be grossly understaffed in many areas. The main theater only had 2 or 3 waiters for drinks during any show (which seats almost 2000 people) - good luck getting one drink, let alone more than one. On the other hand, the comedy club which seats 200 had 9 waiters.
- Waiters were also often hard to find in the pool area.
- The buffet on the lido deck closed much earlier than expected. One day we were on shore, had to be back on board at 2, and the buffet closes at 2:30. By the time you are cleaned up and ready to eat, everything is closed other than pizza and the deli.
- During the days, there were almost no planned activities (especially for adults) - even on sea days. The last day finally had some pool games (again for kids), and an ice carving demonstration.
- One day a card was put under our door confirming a reservation to one of the premium restaurants for our cabin. However we didn't make a reservation. We also heard of this happening to a lot of other people. We called and cancelled the reservation. We heard another family that had two cabins with 8 people where the same thing happened. They didn't call and cancel, and ended up being charged the cover charge for all 8 people (at $35 each), and apparently carnival would not take the charge off. I don't know if the ship is making reservations for people on purpose, or if someone was pranking people, but this seemed fairly widespread. So beware if this happens to you. Call and cancel if you don't want to go.
- And the casino - ADVICE: DONT GO IN THERE. They payouts are the lowest I have ever seen, and in the entire week we only heard about one person who won a $1200 jackpot. Everyone else was losing hundreds to thousands of dollars (including one who had lost over $10,000!!!!) In past cruises, if you earned a certain amount of points in the casino, they would give you free drinks for the remainder of the cruise (in any venue). Now you only get free drinks in the casino, if you are playing, after you have achieved 1500 points (which you will probably spend $750 or more to get to that point)
- In fact, there were a large number of people on this cruise who had received offers from Carnival in conjunction with other casinos, who either got free inside cabins, or very discounted outside cabins (us included). I think they are using the casino on board the ship to make up for these losses of up front costs.
- if you decide to go for a leisurely stroll on the outside promenade deck in the morning, watch out because the joggers will run you down. This ship does not have a dedicated jogging track as others do, so they use the promenade which runs around the entire ship.
- The entertainment was average (stage shows, comedy club). We have had much better on other cruises.