I'm not going to talk about the ports we visited or any of the the shore excursions. Everyone has a different take on what they want to do on their cruise. Some like to relax by the pool, some like to shop, some like to party, etc...and whatever you wanted to do....it was there for you to do and to enjoy. I'm just going to focus on the ship and its crew.
Now, I've read all the previous reviews and am amazed at some that find fault with rust spots, worn carpeting, dust, etc....I saw a few rust spots, here and there and the carpeting definitely could use some sprucing up in some places...but this is an older ship and in my opinion, it was very well maintained. There is so much positive to report about this ship from the speed of embarkation to the ease of debarkation that I don't know where to begin.
I'll start we our cabin. We had a balcony cabin mid-ship on the Empress Deck. It was a great location. The deck was very quiet and it was just a couple decks down to the restaurant, shops and entertainment or a couple decks up to the pools and buffet. The cabin was very comfortable, plenty of room for clothing and personal belongings. Carnival introduced their new bedding since we last cruised and it was a wonderful addition. The balcony wasn't as big on this ship as on some of the other ships....but there was still plenty of room to sit and read or to just enjoy the evening air and the tranquility of the ocean.
FOOD....We had early dining in the Paris Dining Room.. and, unlike some of the passengers, we ate our dinner there every evening. It is really sad to see so many of the tables with wonderful ocean views go empty or almost empty every evening, especially since the Dining Staff on this ship was probably the most attentive that we have ever had on any previous cruise. The menu in the Paris and London Dining rooms was fantastic. Dejan, our head waiter, showed extreme patience with me as I never could make up my mind what I wanted to eat. A couple times I took his suggestion and ordered more than one selection.
The first couple of days we ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet...but I was not impressed with the food so we changed to eating at the Paris Restaurant whenever it was serving breakfast or lunch. If all you want for lunch is salad, the buffet was fine.... but the rest of the offerings seemed to be cafeteria food that was fancied up and fell short of what was served on the other ships we have been on. The pizza (served 24 hours) was very good and there were several varies to choose from. The Grille served up hamburgers (all well-done), grilled chicken sandwiches and the very best french fries.
ENTERTAINMENT...Well, let's face it...this is a cruise ship...not Broadway or Hollywood. If you want to see great talent then you pay the big bucks and go to a different venue. The production shows were good...not great...but still entertaining. Although it did seem at times that there was a contest between the lead male singer and the lead female singer as to who could screech the loudest. But, still the entertainment staff did try to have something for everybody.... a magician, a hypnotist, a comedian, dancers, karaoke, art auctions and the list goes on. And while some passengers tried their luck at the bingo games, others tried their luck at the television games and trivia contests hoping to win the coveted grand prize....a plastic "piece of ship". I am happy to say, my husband proudly walked away with two of the golden trophies!!!
CREW ... I really have saved the best for last. The crew on this ship was fantastic. Smiles and service was the rule of the day with every member no matter what their respective job was. The dining staff was incredible. Our waiters sang for us, shared stories with us and, more importantly, called each of us at our table by our names. Our cabin steward was wonderful...our room was always made up before we got back from breakfast in the morning and turned down before we returned from dinner every evening. His towel animals were always a surprise...but I never got a monkey (DARN)!! The only staff members that would not get five stars from me would be the Cruise Director, Paul and his staff. The lack luster Paul never quite got his jokes across and the rest of his staff seemed unorganized at times....they all got the job done, but could use a shot of enthusiasm.
All in all, my husband and I agree that this was one of our better cruises. We'll definitely be cruising with Carnival again next September.