My husband and I (aged 60/58) had been looking for a longer cruise with more sea days and this one fit the bill. This was our first time sailing with Carnival and to tell you the truth, we were not hearing good things. After having a not so fantastic time on a NCL cruise, I was concerned.
Cruise critic and the nice people on the Miracle roll call helped to calm my fears, so thank you for that.
Turns out we had an awesome time with only a couple of complaints that weren't cruise wrecking.
We had flown into LA on a 6 AM flight and were looking forward to getting to our cabin early for a nap. As we paid of "Faster to the Fun" upgrade I was surprised at the confusion at the embarkation. Seemed like everyone just rushed to door. I felt like I was attending a concert, weird and unorganized. It was better once we got into the building. Our luggage was in our cabin by the time we got there which was a relief.
The decor of the ship was confusing and entertaining at the same time, I don't get what they were going for, but again not why we cruise...
The food in the MDR was for the most part very good, but not always hot, which was too bad. The portions tiny, but you can order 2 or 3 so it's all good. The dessert options were surprisingly limited, I don't like Chocolate melting cake, but it seemed like I was the only one.
Now the food on the lido was not so good, save for the deli (which was fine ,but we got tired of the limited selections) and the pizza which was very good and more varied once you figured out you could mixed the toppings. One guy I meet, saved his bacon from breakfast to put on the pizza.
Another issue I had with the lido was the 40 mile hike between stations. By the time you got all your food it was cold again (and some of the dishes were just plain weird). Just a badly planned system. Make sure one of your party saves you a seat because they are hard to find....after a few days we gave up and ate on the pool deck, which was quite nice.
My Husband is a coffee drinker and he consistently praised the decaff the whole cruise.
This was our anniversary cruise so we decided to have our celebratory dinner at Nick and Nora's, I can't praise this enough. The food was great, the portions huge and atmosphere and the service was flawless. May one complaint was the awful noise coming from the atrium which is open up all ten decks. N&N's is at the top on deck 10. It the music was so load we couldn't hear our server speaking. And I hate whiney country music, but I don't think different music would have made it any better (maybe a tinkling piano just for dinner time?). Carnival has put a beautifully elegant restaurant, in the middle of a music festival and I paid extra for that. At the end of the meal when the server asked if we enjoyed it you told her honestly the food was fantastic but the music ruined it...she told us we should have booked earlier in the evening..... since when do you go out to a fancy dinner at 4 pm???
My husband and I are not joiners, so I can't comment to much on the activities, we played trivia a couple of times. and went to a few of the lectures (but those are replayed on the TV, so you can miss those) I did notice that it was hard to get a seat all the time. Same with the games room and the casino, always packed. The Casino was too smoky to stay in for long....so they didn't get as much of my money as they could have. HeHe. The comedians were good, the only show we went to see was the hypnotist and he was funny.
I will say I was surprised at the lack of movies... only on a day, REALLY...
The pools and hot tubs where what you expect and surprising available much of the time, it was a little nippy on the way to Hawaii and the last few days home. There is a waterslide on the sport deck but I only saw it in operation once. They seem to entertain the kids well, because we hardly saw them.
One of the unpleasant things I found with the cruise was the smell of smoke....smoking was allowed in the atrium bar so the middle of the ship was always smoky. Smoking was allowed on one side of the pool deck, but if you walked on the other side it was not noticeable, and of course one side of the casino and it didn't matter where you sat you could smell smoke, but I expect that in a casino. We had smokers next door to us but hardly noticed that either unless the boat was not moving....so no big deal there.
The other was the lack of pineapple....seriously a Hawaiian cruise and no pineapple, we have been on other Hawaiian cruises and were VERY disappointed in the lack of fresh fruit in general. Good thing I like canned peaches.
The excursions were expensive (as they are on all cruise lines) so we did our own thing, which included trips we found at the ports. There where loads of shuttles to take you somewhere, and you could book excursions much cheaper on shore. As a side note, I have never had my bags searched as many times as on this cruise. It must be a Carnival thing....
Since we live in the Vancouver area, we were not in a hurry the disembark. The process was clear, easy and quick once the luggage had cleared customs... so kudos there.
So will we sail Carnival again...Yes, if the price is right...we really had a GREAT time. The ship was very clean and had a laundromat (very important on a 16 day cruise).
The staff was great, our cabin steward Bernie was awesome, as was our favorite server who's name was Howaryu. I kid you not!!!