My wife and I are retired and this was our sixth cruise, the third on Carnival. We booked at the last minute on line and found that we could not complete our registration. It said we had to call Carnival to complete. Being a little perturbed, I did so and found out that since we were identified as repeat customers, we were given an additional discount with an automatic upgrade. Amazing! The Carnival rep was very pleasant and answered all of our questions.
We live in the upper midwest and decided to drive to Florida for the experience of parking at the cruise port so as to avoid the hassle with the airlines, baggage restrictions, shuttles, etc. If you can do this I believe it is the best way to go. Port Everglades was easy to get into, the parking was under cover and close to the ship, and leaving the port on disembarkation after getting to our car was fast and painless. Even though were early arriving at the port, we found that the line for embarkation was quite long. However once it started moving, it was fast and efficient with all Carnival personnel being very helpful. We were on the ship within 30 minutes.
This ship is huge!! I was concerned that we would be lost getting around. Not so! It's layout is similar to other Carnival ships. Taking an hour or so after embarkation to explore will be helpful later during your cruise. Yes it is pink with lots of circles in the decor! We liked it, and besides, you will get use to it. We hardly noticed after a while. The cabin hallways were done in a 40's decor, a distinct contrast from the other public areas.
This ship with 3,000 passengers never seemed crowded anywhere at anytime except for the casino. When the casino was in operation it was packed. I like to play craps, there was only one table, and I was only able to get a spot on it on the last day. Maybe that was good, I saved some money.
Our stateroom, an outside ocean view, was the best we have ever had. It was of good size, well laid out and appointed with real oil painting art on the walls. The bathroom was large and the shower was easy to work and control. Our cabin steward was exceptional and always seemed to know when we were in or out and when to do his work.
The dining experience both in the Black Pearl restaurant and the Lido cafe were excellent. The staff in both were friendly and professional. They couldn't have done a better job. Although there were several food choices each night in the dining room, it didn't vary much from night to night. No worry, however, the food was excellent. In the Lido cafe, there were many food choices and seating was always available with clean tables.
The cruise director "Goose" did a good job in managing and the entertainment was outstanding. The first night's show was good but nothing special. The two comedians on nights 2 and 3 were also very good but the production show "Varoom" on the final night was unbelievable. It was one of the best shows that I have seen anywhere and to think I saw this on a cruise ship - oh my! The ship had many facilities for activities but were of the same type you will find on most ships, spa, exercise room, camp Carnival, etc. The difference to us seemed to be the larger sizes and efficient layouts. This is easily a ship on which one could spend several "fun days at sea" and not get bored. The staff overall truly were professional and seemed to want to be as helpful as possible. The only exception was in the shops where the staff seemed to have attitudes of disinterest to borderline rudeness. I don't want to labor on this point since we didn't come on this cruise to shop - no big deal.
Now on to the cruise itinerary: This was a 4-nighter with 2-ports of call plus a "fun day at sea". It served as a fill in cruise between the arrival from Europe and wintering in the Eastern Caribbean. We picked this cruise not only for the great price but also to try out the "Splendor", Carnival's newest and largest ship and because it was a Bahamas cruise that did not go to Nassau. Nothing against Nassau - just been there before. More on that later. The first day we went to the private island Half Moon Cay used by Carnival/Holland America. This is a wonderful beach experience that you might want to do on future cruises. The sand is different than anything I have ever seen - like fine powdered sugar. Wonderful to walk in but hard to clean off. This island is unique!
The second day we were to arrive at Grand Turk. A beautiful day but high winds would not allow us to safely dock. After several tries, the captain wisely decided to abort the effort and not risk ramming the pier or running aground - not good for passenger safety or resumes. Grand Turk does not have tug service or a natural harbor where the pier is located. So we had a "fun day at sea" one day early with our next stop targeted for Nassau. Apparently a couple of other Carnival ships had similar problems with the weather at other ports so we were able to play musical chairs with the itineraries and take the place of another ship at Nassau. I commend to the highest degree the way Carnival handled this and the efficiency with which the staff adjusted to this change!
Nassau is Nassau. No one seemed to mind and I think some were pleased. Any experience is what you want to make of it. Having been there before, we had no particular plans other than to walk around and enjoy the experience. People didn't seem to buy much. Prices were high and the locals weren't pushing or particular interested in bargaining. We spent the afternoon on the ship and enjoyed the adults only deck where they had padded lounge chairs and a bar.
This is getting long and even though there is many more positive things I could say about this ship I will conclude with a little on the disembarkation. This was the fastest and easiest disembarkation we have ever experienced. We were off the ship, through customs, in our car and on the Florida Turnpike in one hour. The only problem we encountered was initially as we left. It seems that far more people try to "self assist" disembark that "self assist" embarked. This led to a back up on the lower decks as we were getting off the ship. It isn't so bad if patience is applied. This is a great ship on which to take a cruise. It is my understanding that this ship will locate in the next couple of years on the west coast out of Los Angeles and do the Mexican Riviera. We did this itinerary on the Carnival "Spirit" and it should a great adventure on the "Splendor".