My family and I went on this cruise with an open mind. We were traveling with another couple and it was their first cruise. I have cruised 7 times with Carnival and twice with 2 other lines. I have always enjoyed Carnival more than other lines until this last experience.
We live in West Palm Beach about an hour away from the Miami Cruise Port. We parked our car in a lot (Port of Miami Parking) http://www.portofmiamicruiseparking.com/ for $6 per day and $7 for a round trip shuttle to and from the port. We arrived at the port around 11am and went through security with our carry on water with no problems. We had purchased Faster to The Fun for an additional $50 (for the entire family) and we were immediately escorted to the front of the line! NICE!! We would’ve boarded faster had it not been for the slow as molasses counter clerk we had. She took forever to give us out sail and sign cards. She had no register so I had to wait in another line to deposit cash to my sail and sign account. But finally we were on our way, stopping for our welcome aboard pic and off to our room (faster to the fun also pays for having our room ready when we board!) We dropped off our water and off to the Lido deck for lunch.
Dinner was very nice. We had 3 fabulous waiters, Luis from Columbia and Ferdinand, and Sasa (pronounced Sasha) from Croatia. They were attentive to our needs, always calling us by our first names. Dinner every night was nice but the food wasn’t that great. The service was very slow, but we enjoyed having a nice sit down dinner every night with the same wait staff and enjoyed the shows they performed for us. It was getting a bit annoying having a photographer interrupt our meal EVERY SINGLE NIGHT to take pictures at the table. One night they scared the living daylights out of me when someone put a knife to my throat! It was a “pirate” for a picture! Good grief!
We had a balcony on the Empress Deck Room 7354. I must say that I was very disappointed with my room. Like I stated before, I have cruised with Carnival before and I got pretty used to certain things like an immaculate room. Thank God I took Clorox wipes with me and I sanitized the counters and bathroom sink and toilet. I always had a bowl in the bathroom with free trial size items but this time there was nothing, zilch, nada. This was the first time I did not tip my stateroom steward extra. He did not go above and beyond at all. The other couple that was traveling with us experienced an embarrassing moment with their stateroom steward the first night as they were getting ready for dinner. They were in the shower and heard a noise. They were drying themselves when a stranger opened their bathroom door! There they were NAKED and this man whom they’d never seen before was standing in front of them! It was the stateroom steward who had entered their room without knocking! I guess he didn’t hear the shower running! They were in room 7386 also on the Empress Deck. What an embarrassing experience for these first time cruisers. They kept their “I’m Snoozing” sign up on their door the whole cruise because they were afraid he’d barge in again.
The Entertainment: The cruise director was Marcelo. He was hilarious! But I think the shows were a bit corny. The welcome aboard show was literally 3 minutes of singing and dancing and the rest was Marcelo calling 6 people from the audience up on stage to embarrass them (which was pretty funny) but nothing compared to the shows they used to do. The Not so Newlywed Game was as always hysterical! The Talent show where the guests perform was very short. Only about 3 or 4 guests performed. The lobbies were full of photographers (deck 5 and deck 3) that you could hardly walk. The pictures are pretty outrageous. $21.99 for an 8x10, $15.99 for a 5x7 portrait , and $9.99 for a 5x7 pic taken at dinner or at a port. The canvas portraits are $59.95 and you receive the 8x10 of the pic “free”. I paid $40 for a canvas on the Imagination ship. So they are really charging you for the 8x10 picture. I did buy 2 8x10 photos and 1 canvas. My daughter’s picture made it on THE WALL OF FAME and she received her 8x10 FREE!!!
The buffets: The buffets left a lot to be desired. This was the first time I went to the buffet and it was CLOSED! They would close it at 2:30pm every day. Only the lido pool buffet was open with the same burgers, hotdogs, and fries available which I did not want. Pizza was really good but there was always a wait because they only make one pie at a time which seems pretty stupid when you have 3000 passengers on board. The ice-cream cones were always delicious.
Pool/Hot Tubs: We did get in the hot tubs twice and they were great. The pools were small but there were 4 pools. Can’t get used to the salt water pool though. Only lasted 10 minutes in their because your eyes begin to sting very bad.
The night before we were to arrive in Ocho Rios, they slipped a note under my door that the balcony would be cleaned while we were in port so as to make sure we had no belongings on the chairs. Great I thought; A clean balcony because it was so dirty. When we got back on board I checked the balcony and it was as dirty as it was when we boarded the ship. I guess to them cleaning a balcony means hosing it down with water. But they did not “clean” all the filth nor did they clean the glass below the rails. Whatever, not a big deal but worthy of noting because their service has scaled down over the years. They are catering more to a party crowd.
I have NEVER experienced anything like this on any other cruise. The first 2 nights, at 1am, 3 young women decided they were going to walk down the hallway of the Empress deck yelling at the top of their lungs, cursing, and yelling “Lets Get The Party Started!” 2 nights in a row they did the same thing and got away with it. On the 3rd night, “someone” ran down the hallway banging on every door at 2 am! The last night, (Wednesday) we noticed a young black male was following us. He would not stop no matter where we went. Finally I turned around and asked him if I could help him with something and he said no. But he continued to follow us to our rooms, but of course we did not go in our rooms because we were afraid. I don’t know if he was trying to steal our jewelry or the expensive camera my friend was carrying. Thank God he have up.
All in all, the cruise was enjoyable but it was just so different from my previous cruises. But I really think I am going to stick with Royal Caribbean because Carnival is catering to wild crazy people who obviously have no self-control and no manners and probably have criminal records!
Ocho Rios: Chukka River Tubing - Was very enjoyable but not too exciting. Pictures are taken by employees and sold on a dvd. We purchased 20 pics for $50. Bus ride was very interesting and a bit scary!!
Grand Cayman: We only shopped and boarded the ship early to get in the pool without the crowd.
This is my least favorite port. Too expensive, sales people do not lower prices at all.
Chukka River Tubing - Was very enjoyable but not too exciting. Pictures are taken by employees and sold on a dvd. We purchased 20 pics for $50. Bus ride was very interesting and a bit scary!! Oscar was a bus driver and he was so nice and fun and we did tip him extra. Gingerbread was our river rafting guide and he was very nice as well. Didn't like the pushy sales people as we were trying to get in the river. Annoying!