We cruised 09-29-07.
Embarkation: Very easy. Platinum VIP was a breeze.
Food: I don't do buffets, so I can not comment on those. Deli was good. Pizza was good. Mississippi BBQ (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc) was good. Formal dining room was consistently good every night. Room service arrived hot every morning and timely during the day.
Cabin: Very spacious. Lots of nooks to put stuff. Our cabin steward (hey Jorge) was excellent. We really liked the ice machines and coke machines in the room down the hall (like hotels have). They were very convenient. We were below the dining room, but never heard any noise.
Ship: It is large. Lots of walking. Decks 3 and 4 do not go all the way through because the kitchen and Atlantic Dining room block the middle. Deck 5 does go all the way through (Promenade). We just used Deck 5 to get from the back to the front. We liked the Green decor. The ship was clean and well maintained.
Ports: They were all fine. We can not do excursions because of our special needs son. So we always just do our own thing. Portland- We took a free Shipyard Brewery tour. That was interesting. Saint John- We just walked around the port. Halifax- We hired a private driver for an hour (Taxi 240) and he gave us more than our money's worth. We went to the Titanic Cemetery and the Citadel. He took us where ever we wanted to go to see the flavor of Halifax and answered all our questions directly and honestly. He was wonderful. We saw whales several times from the ship. And lots of dolphins playing and completely clearing the water. It was strictly by chance.
Staff and crew: I found them friendly and outgoing. But then I always greeted with with a big smile and let them know we appreciated their hard work. I have found that in this area, you get what you give.
Malcolm and the Social Hosts were fun and did an excellent job in dealing with our son's special needs.
I am big into karaoke. "DJ Kyle" was filling in for the regular karaoke host who had to go home because of an emergency. He did an excellent job for it not being his regular gig. He is usually the DJ in the Disco. They had a new karaoke host arriving on October 6th. For several hours every night, we packed out the 300 seating lounge. We had a ball. The crowds were thin the first night (which is usual) but after that..... we had a wonderful crowd to sing to. For those who came to listen and support those of us who love to sing, I say "Thank You".
Steve in the Red/Black Lounge was very good. Peter in the Piano Bar was also excellent. Simply Friends (playing in the Casino) are not to be missed. Fabulous!! The Legends Show was fun. (I was Gloria Estafan) The only down side is that they can only play the song in one key...and it was not the key I sing it in. But I made due with a little straining. The dancers, orchestra and tech guys were awesome!!! They make you feel like a star!! The costumes are excellent.
There were only 26 children total on board this cruise. So being "over run with kids" was not a problem!!
Shows: Hubby loves the shows no matter how many times he sees them. They were excellent on this ship. The comedians were good as well.
Club O2: This is where I could write a book. Ria was the Club O2 director and is an absolute treasure. Club O2 was being dismantled in preparation for the drydock later this month. Plus, her usual secondary spots (disco, different lounges, etc) were all taken up by 5 large groups on board all day...and of course being used for their usual entertainment at night. There were 6 kids in the 15-17 age group on this cruise. (My son being one of them.) He was a form of autism called Asperger's Syndrome and Club O2 is the highlight of his cruise. *This was cruise number 18 for him. The other 5 kids elected not to participate, so it was the Ria and DJ show. For one child, she set up and broke down Playstation, XBOX, Wii equipment (complete with big screen tv) every afternoon AND night...where ever she could find a spot. And she did not just sit there and watch him play. She was his best friend for an entire week. They battled on every game the ship had. Racing, tennis, boxing, golf.... you name it ...they played it. She did not just stick him in the arcade. If the disco was available in the afternoon, she snagged it. If there was room on the Promenade (where others could watch them battle) she snagged it. They were very visible!!
She had to listen to 2 of the other teens (and their clueless parents) complain because there were not more "teens" on board. (Like Ria could do anything about that.) Ria invited them to join she and DJ, but they said no. We later heard them say (and I quote)..."we did not pay all this money to party with some retarded kid". This was the same family of 15 that wanted the Disco closed so that their family could have a private party one night. Proof positive that the idiot apple does not fall far from the tree.
DJ had the cruise of a lifetime. He is very high functioning and is very good at video games. Even though he had never played the new Wii system, he picked it up quickly and won. Ria was not letting him win. They would pick and banter back and forth at one another. It was like watching a brother and sister chilling and having fun. DJ is almost 6 ft tall and Ria is a tiny little thing. It did not matter. She moved all that equipment twice a day for a solid week to make sure he had a good time. For a solid week, he was not a child with a disability. He was a normal 16 year old kid. How do you put a price on a gift like that?
DJ overcame his fear and went down the slide for the first time (to impress Ria) and then we could not get him off of it. (regardless of the temps) It was open every day and I even gave it a whirl!!!
I have had to explain to DJ that this was a once in a lifetime event. The cruise in December and the other 2 in January that we have coming up will not be like this. He will not get this one on one attention. And he said "I know Mom. You do not always get a pearl when you open an oyster, but I sure did this time". Ria was his pearl.
Needless to say, this was one of our best cruises. If you take this cruise next year, be aware that there will be very few children on board. This will be an older crowd. I would sail it again in a heartbeat. As with all our Carnival cruises, we got more than our money's worth!!