To start with, this was our 15th Carnival Cruise and 18th overall. We had a small group of 8 people. We had 10, but 1 couple had to drop the Monday before sailing due to a family emergency. We have been on a 15 day Celebrity cruise (Century) and a few 12 day Carnival cruises (Legend and Dream) and have not experienced what I am about to share.
This cruise was not exactly to Carnival's standard. It is as if they were not prepare to feed a full ship for 16 days. The first couple of days the food was not terrible, but was luke warm or cold, and pretty tasteless. Then it went down hill for the next 11 days and finally the last 3 days, the menu improved and food was hot. This is the 1st time on a cruise, we looked at the menu during the day and skipped the dining room in favor of eating a sandwich or pizza on the Lido deck.
To give you an idea, in the 1st 4 days, the menu had prime rib, duck, and pork chops listed as the entrée and served again and again later on the cruise. Some of the names were changed, but it was same meats. I attempted the prime rib only once, it was tough, more than 1/2 was waste and could barely cut with a steak knife. The same applied to my wife's rib eye steak. It was not seasoned and was not served with the au jus. When I asked for some, they brought brown gravy from a can. One of my friends ordered the flat iron steak and could not cut it, another friend handed him a pocket knife and he still could not cut it, so you can imagine how tough the meat was. Last November we sailed the Carnival Sunshine and were surprised how hot and well seasoned the food was, so we know it's possible to get a decent meal in the dining room of a ship. In contrast, our servers were excellent and despite having numerous guests to wait on were very personable. Our server was very accommodating offering substitutions for our inedible meals. Actually, I think he was embarrassed to serve food like that.
I don't think the Cruise Director was prepared for a 16 day cruise with 10 sea days of which at least 5 were too cold for using the pool or sunbathing, thus causing more guests to participate in inside activities. While we enjoy Trivia and Bean Bag Toss, people need more. Most activities were held in areas too small for the number of guests wanting to participate. We skipped Trivia several times because there was no room to sit. Also, more than twice the Bean Bag Toss had over 40 people signed up to play. That alone shows people were hungry for activities. We asked if the game could be left where we could free play but were told because of liability reasons (guests falling over the boards) they could not. We did not care to participate in crafts but noticed guests were again crowded into a small lounge area. A friend attended the craft session on scrap booking and found there was not enough materials to go around because some guests seem to think they were entitled to several packets. The activities on the days sailing to Hawaii were slightly better than the return trip where we re-named the activity schedule "The Inactivity Schedule". The scheduling had activities either overlapping or beginning when another ended, thus not allowing time to get from one to another. We did enjoy the daily sea day seminars by a biologist, but they consumed only one hour of our long day.
The night time entertainment was plentiful, excellent, and full of variety! Our complaint on some former cruises was that guests with late dinner seatings missed out on shows because there was only one. Not the case on this cruise. There were shows for both dinner seatings. Most nights there were three comedy shows at 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00 with two comedians alternating. Since we didn't get out of the dining room most nights before 9:10 we had to wait for the 10:00 show. Problem was the 9:00 crowd would stay for the 10:00 show thus not leaving any seats for newcomers. On our Hawaiian cruise with Celebrity this type problem was handled by emptying the theater and making everyone get back in line to give the next group a chance. A couple nights there was only one show at 9:00, so once again we got gypped.