Background info - I am 25 years old traveling with my husband, also 25 years old. Purpose of our trip? Honeymoon...(applause) thank you. thank you. We are from Los Angeles and had always wanted to see New York. Being young and even younger in the financial department, believe it or not, the two week long trip to New York and cruise was cheaper than one week well, anywhere. So we flew to New York, landing in EWR Newark (cuz it'd be closer for us from port on our way back, and only 40 min from Manhattan) and planned to stay 4 days visiting the city. I'm glad we didn't arrive the day of the cruise, cuz NY traffic is crazy and I didn't wanna catch a redeye for my honeymoon to make the 12:00pm embarkation. Lastly, this is our 2nd cruise ever, last was also on Carnival 3-night L.A. to Ensenada.
Embarkation - We arrived at Pier 90 on Monday morn around 11:40am. Thinking we had plenty of time, the cruise terminal was already packed with early birds. By the time we got in there, we were in the section of guests that had to stand to wait in line. There was also a massive section for seating, probably for 500pp worth, but filled. Getting on was quick and smooth once they opened the doors. There were at least 25 registration booths, and they separated the lines by cabin floor. We weren't greeted enthusiastically, business as usual, but the receptionist looked tired. Anyway, we were excited enough for the whole ship!
On board for the first time - We were on the boat around 12:45pm and headed straight for our cabin. We bumped into Tennyson, our steward, who was wonderful by the way, and he sincerely apologized for the room not being ready. I thought he was so sweet, of course the room wasn't ready, he's not superman! He told us to put our carry-ons into the closet cuz he needed to vacuum so it wouldn't get dusty. We thanked him and headed for the dining room to verify our requested couple's table (2pp only). Thank god, cuz we were going to be seated at a table for 6. Um, the maitre'd looked a little annoyed when he saw us coming and let out a big sigh when we asked him for a different table, but I guess he must've put a lot of work into seating arrangements only to have us mess it all up. Still, he got us our table and brushed us off without a blessing. We went up to lido deck for food, more on that later, and then headed off to the first scheduled activity - ship tour. If you are a newbie, I recommend this highly, because we were able to tour the ship's rooms on our own but got a lot of tips and advice from Josh, aka Big Sexy, activity's director.
Lido deck/Buffet - The lido deck is the entire length of the ship, separated by the buffet room, adult's pool, children's pool, and "anyone's" pool. Lined all the way around were lots of tables and chairs for dining. Lounge chairs are available on lido deck and the deck above. Never once did I not find a lounge chair, unless I wanted to be near the pool that games and bands were playing. Yeah, the pools were really small. But I liked the arrangement. On one side of the ship was the adult's pool which had a full bar, a life size hot tub and lot's of quiet. Perfect for R&R and sunbathing. The "anyone's" pool in the middle of the ship also had a hot tub, was where you rent equipment for ping pong, miniature golf, and towels, and a stage where bands played and cruise activities took place. The kid's pool was on the other side of the ship, never went there much. The buffet got lot's of complaints about being confusing but I liked the way they did that too.
(4) stations set apart from each other offering (4) different styles of cuisine so I felt that made the lines shorter. Until, they served the chocolate fondue buffet, then everyone wanted to be in that line. Haha. The deli station (which I didn't try until the last day, stupid me) was delicious! It's a set station. The pizza station is also set but I felt was so-so (anchovies were salty salty salty!), my husband loved it though, had to get at least a slice a day! The other set station is asian cuisine, but we're asian, and it just made us miss our momma's cooking. There is a grill station but set outside the buffet room next to one of the pools. The last station featured a different style of cuisine a day. We went through Greek, Indian, Italian, and I forget what else. Food was good! The buffet room is a little crowded during peak hours, so we always took the food back to our room and ate on our balcony. When not dining during peak hours, you start to see the thought that was put into the decor of the room. I love the mini floating ships and the british decals. You feel you've stepped back into time.
Bacchus Dining Room - I love overly extravagant things that only dreams are made of, so I didn't find the grapes in the room gaudy. Another point is that I love purple. When they dimmed the lights during the server's performances, the room was beautiful in a purple glow. We had dinner there every night except for San Juan and one lunch when we got up too lazy to get our own food from the buffet. We must've been spoiled from the dinner menu because the lunch menu seemed very limited. I had also gotten mosquito bites from St. Thomas and so couldn't have seafood for the rest of the cruise. (My own allergies) I didn't like the waiter's performances, I thought it took away from the classy feel that the waiters had maintained, but my husband remarked (when the flashing lights came on) we must really look like a party ship from the outside. Others seemed to enjoy it very much. I did like how our assistant server Nyoman, always made a point to come by our table during dessert (not during chow down of our entree) to ask how our day was. He has a smile like the sun. I noticed that about most of the crew members. They seemed sincerely nice and caring of their passengers. Andi was our main server, but he must've had his hands full cuz we never saw much of him and on one of the nights, our orders were mixed up twice. He had a great voice though! We never tried Nick & Nora's cuz the food in the dining room was yummy enough for us, and if it wasn't we had the choice to try a different entree, but only needed to do that once.
Our cabin - we booked a balcony room, extended (get the extended, it's worth it if you like to be out on the balcony) and when we walked in, nothing special, neutral colors. The room was big though! Our friends had ordered decorations, a cake, and a honeymoon present through the ship, which was displayed as we walked in the very first time, so that was exciting! The bathroom was the size I expected for the ship, but I loved all the (glass) shelf space they provided along the sink mirror. More than enough for both our facial products and toiletries. As I'd mentioned earlier, Tennyson was our cabin steward. I felt so bad for him because of the time difference, we were up really late and liked lounging around in the room. I swear he must've been waiting around the corner because every time we left the room, even for an hour, we'd return to a completely made up room. Amazing! We brought with us (2) luggages and (2) carryons which all fit under the bed as advised. We used one of the drawers underneath the sofa to store souvenirs, duffel bags, etc. I unpacked all the suitcases to fit the closet and drawers in the room. On our last carnival cruise, I kept slipping into the hole from the two twin beds separating, but not this time, got some great sleep. It was unusual that the tv stations were all from Denver, Colorado. I'd get confused sometimes about the news and weather being broadcast, cuz it had nothing to do with where we were. But there were multiple channels specifically for cruise infos which I found very very helpful. And in case I had missed an activity, or wanted to relive the activity again, it would be playing on tv as soon as the next morning. And once you go balcony, you can't do anything less. Trust me. Even in open sea, without view of any land, mother nature is just gorgeous.
Activities - If you are the type that enjoys relaxing and lounging around, this is the cruise for you (like my husband). I however was antsy the whole trip and found myself bored by the third day. A lot of activities were repeated or not seeming so interesting (folding towel animals). However, some activities turned out to be really entertaining, like the bean bag toss competition and the battle of the sexes pictionary. So I spent my days browsing the fun shops for deals during their everyday raffle (never won), bingo (never won), and slots (let's not talk about it). My husband did well in the casino though, covering my losses and finds in the shops. I do wish there were more to do, but that's my fault picking an itinerary with so many sea days since I'm the active type. Always, it is what you make of it!
Debarkation - We chose to not do self assist, it's our honeymoon, didn't wanna be lugging luggage around with all those people. Plus, we booked our flight back at 4:30pm, so plenty of time. We were the last group called, luggage assists go by alphabetical order, but were off the ship by 11:30am. We got up around 8:30am, packed up misc items, said goodbye to Tennyson, and went up to lido deck for food. We finished around 10:30 am and went to check out last minute deals on photos. There weren't any. We then went outside to videotape our arriving back in New York…wow, the water didn't seem so brown when we had left! We were off the ship (easy), found our luggage (easy), and out the door. We were inside the terminal building around 12pm. The only bad part of the trip started now. Passengers were directed right outside the terminal to wait for their pickups at pier 90. But arranged pick up services were directed to the floor below us. A lot of us were not picked up until around 1:30pm. And it was a hot day!
I loved the décor of the ship, and yes, it was always clean. I loved the service of the crew, I never once felt like just another passenger. Make sure you do what you want when you want, and if you missed it, catch it on tv. The shows were okay, Ticket to Ride was great razzle dazzle. The Village Idiots were really funny, and they're catching knives for godsake, I'd be nervous sometimes too. My favorite show was the guest talent show (different from Carnival Legends, we didn't see that), you never what talent you are sitting next to! There's lots more I could add, but the review got quite long. Just one more thing…Don't let one person or one thing ruin the trip. And hey, there are always other ships, other trips, and a whole new day tomorrow. Enjoy yourself. You're on vacation!