This was our first Carnival cruise , however it was our 11th cruise overall.Previously on Princess and RCCL Arrived from So. California via red eye flight on Jet Blue, uneventful , everything was fine. We then went by hotel shuttle to the La Quita Inn and Suites near the airport, the rooms are adequate with a nice pool area in the rear of the property. Continental breakfast is served,the breakfast did not have a lot to offer, last year we stayed there and it was better. Airport and cruise port shuttle service.
Embarkation at Port Everglades: We arrived via hotel shuttle at about 12:30 (that was the only time it was offered). The lines to board the ship were LONG, VERY LONG. Once on board the ship you are directed up to the Lido deck to wait until the cabins are available at 1:30 . We had a lite lunch then went to our cabin.
Stateroom: We were very please with our standard outside cabin, it was good sized, bigger than most cabins we have had, and the furniture layout was good, the bed was up against the side wall leaving the window free to look out ( with out standing on the bed :) ) Most of our previous cruises the bed is right under the window. We had lots of walking room around the bed, two small night stands with lights, a large couch, chair and coffee table as well. A bank of cabinets all along one wall with more than enough storage with room to spare, the bathroom is standard cruise ship bathroom. The decor was subdued, and the bed linens were really nice !!! Our cabin steward did a good job of keeping our cabin clean and neat. We were very happy with his service.
Dining experience: We were assigned to early seating ,in the Silver Olympian Dining room (aft) , which was a bit too early for us , but we managed to be on time. The service was good , we did have a change of wait staff midway through the cruise , not sure what that was all about. As far as we were concerned the waiter and assistant waiter did a fine job. The bar staff were also very good. We thought the food was good but not great, would have liked to see a bigger variety offered. The melting chocolate cake is WONDERFUL :) We can not comment on the supper club as we did not go there. We used the buffet for breakfast and lunch, the food is pretty much standard buffet food, with the exception of the Deli window and the Mexican food window which we enjoyed. Didn't think much of the dessert bar in the buffet, or the pastries offered in the buffet either. There are many choices of lounges to go to , from what we could tell they were quite busy. We saw but did not go to the Fish and Chips place on deck 10, but other passengers said they liked it. The hamburger and pizza was good we tried both of those. The soft serve ice cream and yogurt was nice, but if you want a late nice ice cream you have to look all over to find one open.
Camp Carnival: Can not comment on that , we didn't have any children with us on the cruise, but we did see quite a few children on the ship that were taking part in the activities. We thought for the most part the children and teens on board were well mannered and well behaved.
Casino: The Casino is nicely located near the atrium on deck 5, we spent a little time and a little money there, it was usually busy. Photos: We noticed that the photo staff was very busy , they were taking photos on deck 5 promenade area every evening, and came around the dining rooms as well, and at the ports. We bought a couple photos, probably would have purchased more , but they are a bit pricey. Shops: We browsed around through the shops bought a couple little things, found the shops to be much the same as other ships we have been on. One thing is they have a lot of special sale this and that every day , so it is often crowded there.
Pools/and Pool decks: Yes the chair hogs were out in force, most days if you wanted a lounge chair you needed to go up to deck 10 on the outside ( not near the pools) to get lucky and find a chair. We did not care for the main pool area, the way it is laid out is almost amphitheater style with lots of levels of chairs, so we used the back pool which is suppose to be adults only (which some people with children ignore the rules) but that area is very noisy with the bar using the blenders constantly and the music just really loud, so relaxing there is not possible, we decided to swim and leave to somewhere quieter on an upper deck, it would have been nice to be able to relax by the pool, but we couldn't even hear each other talk. Also the pools are salt water, not fresh water.
Entertainment: We attended all the shows in the Venetian Palace Theater: We didn't care much for the first welcome show, the comedian were just ok, The one show we did really like was the last production number that they did "Wonderful World" we thought this show was well done. They had a comedian/hypnotist one evening , he was ok.
Crew: The cruise director was Steve Knisley: He did a good job. As I said earlier our stateroom steward "Gerald" did a fine job, our dining room wait staff "Navin and Mario" did a fine job. Wine steward/bar staff "Oliver" was very helpful. The Pursers deck was helpful and responsive to our needs. But I must say the the Shore Excursions desk was not very helpful and mostly absent, we met our excursions out on the pier with no assistance from the staff, at one point we could not locate the excursion representative and actually got help from another Carnival ship (which was docked ahead of us) excursion people. We had some problems with one of the excursions and ended up going over to the pursers deck to get it sorted out, the excursion desk was no help.
Excursion: We did Carnival excursions at all ports but Nassau, there we just got off and did some browsing around and shopping.
Port: San Juan Excursion: San Juan Nightlife tour: It was worthless ,I would not recommend it at all. They just drive you around and show you hotels and fast food restaurants.
Port: St Thomas: St John tour and Snorkel: Part of the excursion was good, the boat ride and commentary on the was to St John, but then we just went directly to the beach (really no tour of the island)we went to Trunk Bay really beautiful area, there was a current so snorkeling was not really very good, didn't see any fish. The excursion people were very helpful with the equipment and instructions but mostly it was a beach stop not much to see snorkeling. Perhaps it was just a bad day for it.
Port:Antigua- Sail and Snorkel: Really nice catamaran with good crew , went quite far out , lots of coral and some fish, good tour !! Port: Tortola: Virgin Islands sailaway and snorkel: This was the best tour, we went quite a way out near other islands to snorkel, Lots of Fish . Then sailed to a private beach with a pier where there were lounge chairs, restrooms, a restaurant. And spent some beach time. We were served rum punch after snorkeling , just had a fun day, Recommend this tour.
Over all our expectations for the cruise were met. We had a good time on a nice ship (which is very well maintained and clean )The Decor is a bit on the modern sort of Vegas side at times a bit over the top. But we enjoyed it. We met lots of really nice people. You can participate it any of the ships activities or none, what ever you choose. We did find that they do alot of raffle type activities which we usually didn't participate in as we were busy with other things. There is the always present Bingo, Trivia , Idol competition, etc. And oh yes the hairy chest competition which we skipped. Will we cruise on Carnival again, may be , it would depend on the ship and the itinerary and time of year. We usually sail when children are in school.And Carnival does have more children and a younger demographic over all. Hope this review is helpful. Happy sailing all.