Do not read this review and think that I did not enjoy my cruise, I did! I had a great time, but this was my first cruise with Carnival and will probably be my last with them.
We booked our air through Carnival and on our trip to the ship we had a lay-over in Atlanta that was longer than the total time we spent in the air! We arrived at the pier in time to get on board, get our life jackets and go to the muster drill. No picture when we boarded or anything! And we started our travels Saturday morning in Columbus, Ohio at 6:00am!
The ship was very nice. Yes it showed some age, but don't we all!. It was clean and the crew was always busy and very friendly. Windows were streaked from age and a lot of light bulbs were burnt out but those are very minor things that had no bearing on my trip at all.
The biggest negative I had with this ship was that they allowed smoking EVERYWHERE!! I had a lady light up right next to me sitting at the bar with a "No Smoking" placard right in front of her! The bartender came over and gave her an ashtray. Cigars being smoked in the casino. Smoking allowed in ALL of the lounges, bars, disco and casino. Had to walk through the designated "Cigar" bar to get to the internet cafe. Let me also state that I do not dislike smoking. I go to bars at home where they smoke, yet I also understand that there are people who do not enjoy being around smoke or who CAN NOT be around it. With the movement on this ship people were queasy to start with, then add smoke and it is even worse. By allowing smoking everywhere the cruise line is really limiting the areas of the ship that these individuals can enjoy. On the other cruises I have gone on, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, smoking was limited to specific areas inside the ship and all outside areas.
The food was good, but not outstanding. I tend to be a meat and potatoes guy though and have never been overly impressed with the food on any cruise. I do enjoy being able to try new foods that I would usually not eat though.
Half Moon Cay was beautiful to look at but I did not go ashore. Tendering was terrible. Tendering started around 9:15 and people were still waiting to tender to shore at 12:30! Had to be back onboard at 3:30. Private island yet only 2, that's right 2, tenders to get 3 thousand people to shore and back! Either get in line really early or pay the $19 to get off first.
St. Thomas is always a great stop. It was raining when we arrived and had been raining for 3 days. The rain stopped but the island was really wet, a lot of excursions were cancelled. Went to Megans Bay and because of all of the rain it was not clear and blue, but rather much like swimming in a local lake or pond. Visibility when snorkeling was about 4 feet! I know this was out of the ordinary and I would recommend Megans Bay to anyone docking at St. Thomas.
San Juan was a really nice stop. I really didn't think I would enjoy this stop, but was pleasantly surprised. We walked along the sea wall to "Old San Juan". This walk took about 30 - 40 minutes and was very enjoyable. School kids flying kites on the grassy area and wonderful views. Then we walked back through town and hit the shopping area. Very good variety of shops, narrow streets, everything you would expect in a caribbean town. Stopped by Senor Frogs for a drink and something to eat and then a stop by the Harley shop and back on board. A really nice relaxing day!
Grand Turk was pretty. snorkeling was ok, but not many fish or other wildlife on the reef. Margaritaville made this stop. Great pool and pool bar. The MC for the entertainment was great. This entire stop though looked to be owned by the cruise line like Half Moon Cay only that there were shops and a bar at this one. I would have rather kept St Maarten as a stop and had another day at see in exchange for this and Half Moon Cay.
The cruise director was Paul and the absolute worst cruise director I have had in 3 cruises. Be prepared to hear him reply with, "That was my mothers name" every single time he asks a lady her name. The late nite "adults only" comedy and magic shows were a waste of time. I frequently go to comedy clubs and these shows were amateurish at best.
As for the piano bar, disco and lounges - if you smoke you will enjoy them all, if you do not, well sorry! Alex - who played at the World Bar at the Casino was excellent and had the bar area and isle filled with people dancing everytime he played. Brad played at the piano bar. The Karaoke was entertaining and the "Carnival Legends" karaoke show on Friday night was the best attended show of the entire cruise.
I had never experienced lines like I did on this ship, as stated before the tendering at Half Moon was a joke. The boat rocked, rolled and pitched from Saturday evening until Thursday night. I was told by various crew members that this was normal for this itinerary. The entertainment was like watching a high school show choir and the poolside games and activities were few.
debarkation went pretty smooth, but I was one of the first off the ship. If you want take your own luggage off, and have an early flight, be at the Rome lounge by 7am and you will be the first ones allowed to leave. We then had to sit on the shuttle for 40 minutes or so, until it filled up. Arrived at the airport in Fort Lauderdale by 9am. I do not know what debarkation for the rest of the ship was like, but can only imagine it took awhile. The entire ship had to pass through 2, yes I said 2 again, customs lines. 3,000 passengers - 2 lines, you do the math.
Like any cruise, it is what you make it and I made it a great vacation. I just didn't see the "Fun Ship" side of Carnival.