A little about me...I'm a 30-something solo traveler out of New Jersey and I love leaving from New York City. This cruise was my second (first being on HAL, so the comparison is hard not to make and find Carnival lacking) but I will try to judge fairly.
Embarkation was fairly easy, although I was standing for a good hour or so while the folks in the middle were able to sit down. Once my line was finally moving, I stood in line again to get through the x-ray station and then in line again to get my sign and sail card. I brought along two carry-on bags and didn't have to check anything. I was in my room around 1pm, dropped off my bags and went up to the Lido. I sat with two women I meet while waiting to board and, here comes my biggest problem with Carnival...we were asked if we wanted a drink, which is fine. The three of us all said "No, thank you", the waiter persisted, begging us to take a drink...two more times we said "No, thank you"...then he pleaded, saying that he only made $70 a month and he needed to sell drinks to make a living!!! I finally got fed up and got a little nasty. This same scenario replayed throughout the cruise, whether I was in the Piano Bar (which I could almost understand), the Lido area and especially the Caribbean Lounge. I think saying no once is more than enough...but in the Caribbean Lounge I was asked over and over about buying a drink. The last night I got the same waiter I had the first day on the Lido and he did not want to take no for an answer...it was truly annoying!!!
My stateroom was very nice and roomy, and with having only two carry on bags, I had more than enough room for all my stuff. Another complaint, I didn't want to pack my hairdryer (due to my limited bag space) and was assured that there was a hair dryer in each stateroom, which there was…however, for my thick-wavy hair the wall unit they had was more like a glorified car vacuum and was hardly up for the task of blowing my hair straight. So, I went for a few days with my curly hair in a clip. Also, every shower I managed to bump my elbow into the 'shampoo/shower gel' dispenser which seemed to be awkwardly placed!!
After the muster, I went back up to the Lido for the sail-away. After ducking more drink purchase requests, I found a seat inside, towards the rear where I could watch the sights. It was a lovely afternoon and enjoyed watching New York and New Jersey fade into the distance. I had the 8pm seating in the Pacific dining room (upper). Every night we seemed to be let in around 8:10 or 8:15 so after the first night I didn't worry about being on time (when I was, I was waiting in line…which seemed to be the theme of this cruise). The food was good and the wait staff okay. I had a table for 8, and most of us were single/solo travelers. I was lucky enough to sit with someone I "knew" from the roll call…and the others were great too.
I ate most of my breakfasts in the Pacific dining room so as to avoid the Lido Buffet rush (more on that later). The food was very good and I was able to meet different people every morning. There was a line every morning (not surprised) but they seemed to get it moving quickly. I would usually have lunch at the Lido Buffet however the way the lines formed made for some uncomfortable maneuvering…and getting a table was sometimes near impossible!! I got bumped more times because there was simply no place for people to move out of the way to get from one line to another. The set up was very poor. The food was okay, although the items that were paired together were a little peculiar. And, unless you were sitting with another person which is not always a guarantee for a solo traveler, forget about getting up to get more food, desert or another drink…your table would be gone.
St. John's was the first port of call on this cruise, and I took the boat tour up the St. John River. It was very nice, thanks to the lovely weather, although it was a little windy so I spend most of my time inside on the boat. The next day was Halifax and I took the bus tour of the city. The public gardens were beautiful, we were at the Citadel for the noon cannon (which was LOUD), and then we went to the cemetery to view the graves of the Titanic 1st and 2nd class passengers who were brought to Halifax to be buried. Again, the weather was wonderful. I had a second tour in Halifax, but I wanted to grab a bite on board the ship…I thought that the hour and a half I had between tours would have been enough time, but once again, it took me over 45 minutes to get back on the ship, and then by the time I got to the Lido, got some food and sat down, my tour would have already left.
I saw two shows and wasn't impressed with either. I could see the singers and dancers were working hard, but the shows were not very imaginative. The female lead singer had a wonderful voice, but it was poorly showcased. I saw the magician who was okay and then the Carnival Legends show which was fun. Also, the R-rated comic they had on the last night was a hoot (sorry, I can't remember his name). As for Malcolm, the CD, I was really sick of the WooHoo's by the end and the overuse of the PA system (which is not something I miss when on HAL!!).
I self-assisted for the disembark and was on the pier before 7am. I grabbed a cab and was back at Penn at 7:15.
Overall, I enjoyed my cruise, meet some nice people and saw some great sights. I don't know that I would sail with Carnival again unless the itinerary was one that I really wanted to do.