My wife and I were pleasantly surpirsed how much we enjoyed this cruise considering the horrible reviews I read in advance. The one negative that we agreed with was the ship's hideous pink design, especially the dining rooms of the Golden and Black Pearl. Now I know why Carnival has fired their old designer and gone in a completely different design direction, similar to Norwegian's new cruise ships. The second negative was the entertainment, especially the main shows led by Dos Santos Jefferies & Allison Foote. They would be voted off in the first round of Americaln Idol, that's how bad they sung. The shows are cheesy, boring, and just not that good. They really need to be revamped, they are just tired and we walked out of 2 of the shows. Now to the good stuff.
Embarkation/Debarkation: 5 star, again we got the fake Carnival letter about not showing up before 1 PM due to immigration inspection. We always ignore it, and we got to the pier by 11:45 AM and were on the ship sitting down to lunch by 12:15. We did self assist to get off, and our deck was called by 8:30 AM. What a pleasure.
Cabin & Cabin Service: 5 star, we had an Oceanview on deck 2, and it was by far the largest cabin we ever had. Great service from our Steward, and the room was nice and ice cold, perfect for sleeping.
Dining, Sitdown and Buffets: 4 star overall, only real negative here was the hamburger/hot dog station, it was horrible. Put the Guy Fieri smash burger station on asap. Pizza and deli was just ok, mongolian wok we never tried not a big fan of that, burrito bar very good, and we were extremely happy with Tandoor and Rotisserie stations, they were both 5 star!. We had lunch at those 2 stations 8 days in a row. Rest of buffet for breakfast lunch was pretty typical, if you don't like something, try something else. I highly recommend the Sea Day brunches, filet mignon and eggs benedict, huevos rancheros, bagels and lox, all very good. A nice event was also the Dr. Suess Sea Day breakfast, lots of fun and pictures with the Suess characters. We ate all our meals around 6:15 PM in the anytime dining room of the Black Pearl. Overall our food came hot, it came quickly, service was good, at least 7 of our 8 dinners were very good.
Public Areas: 3.5 stars, Serenity Deck would have been perfect except for putt putt golf overhead. Aft adults only pool area very nice with 2 hot tubs, Main pool with TV under the stars and retractable roof good, gym and spa were excellent except Men's sauna in locker room broke down last 2 days of cruise. Ok the smoking in casino and disco stinks, they really should restrict any smoking to outdoor spaces only. Fun slots and blackjack tournaments were held with lots of participation. Taste bar very good at night. Worst comment were all the photo stations, there is way too many, its ridiculous. Shops very typical, save all your shopping for last days of the cruise when all the sales are run.
Entertainment: 3 stars, Malcomn the Cruise director was very funny and his staff were very good also. The band Asia were excellent, as was Latin Sugar and Take Two. DJ was young but OK, piano bar guy was really not that good at all. Main shows see my comments above.
Ports of Call
San Juan - took a wonderful Segway tour up to Old San Juan and El Morro castle led by Luis, a great 2.5 hours for $80 per person. Then had killer mofongo with pork for dinner at local bar right across the street from the ship.
St. Thomas - took taxi to the beautiful Magens Bay beach, $8 pp each way plus $4 pp beach entrance fee. A glorious 3 hours on the beach. Returned to ship and partied at Senor Frogs, always a good time.
Grand Turk - walked off ship and swam with visiting doggies from Jacks Shack, laid out in sun, swam in rocky bottom but beautiful beach. A very nice destination with shopping and pools close by. No charge for beach side loungers there.
Overall: 4 Stars, service and food were very good, destinations fantastic, nothing better for us then to sail out of Manhattan while living on Long Island. The previous complaining reviews are from people that are just not happy.