This was our 17th cruise. Our 5th with Carnival. We all would prefer RCCL lines, but they moved out of New Orleans after Katrina,that was not an option. Our main reason for this trip was Mardi Gras. We had a group of eight people from three different parts of the country meeting for this cruise and to spend four day in New Orleans afterwards. This was our third trip out of New Orleans, we used a "snooze and Cruise" hotel so parking and getting to the ship posed no problems. We were concerned about parade traffic , so we did planned on a noon boarding. All went very smooth. We had top wait until 1:30 until cabins were open, so we sat on the pool deck and had a few drinks while waiting. Our cabins were all over the ship, my wife and I had selected an outside, two porthole, forward cabin on the Empress Deck. When we choose this cabin, we were not aware of all the crew activity in this area. (We had the most forward cabin we could get) The price on this cruise with all the discounts and fuel surcharge refund was the cheapest per day that we have ever booked. That was a big plus for the cruise. The positive things about this cruise are as Follows:
Starting with the life boat drill, very well thought out to keep passengers from standing for a long time on deck waiting for the all clear. Cruise director "Big Tex" was excellent. Comic Kim Harrison was very good on her first show. Could not wait to see her "adult" show the following night. A big letdown. She got very few laughs on a very unfunny routine. The last production show was great. A tribute to The Beatles. The Fantasy was not pushing the "art" actions like the other lines, a pleasant surprise. We had been to both the ports before. In Progresso our group all did different things, and in Cozumel we enjoyed going again on the Fury Sail/snorkel/beach tour. All our group did this one and had a great time. Getting off the ship was a breeze. We were at our Hotel and waiting for the parades to start before 11:00 AM.
The negative things:
The food in the dining room does not measure up other lines. In the morning and afternoon, the buffet was terrible. We tried breakfast in dining room twice. Impossible to get get eggs done right. Wine and bar service in the dining room needs improvement. This is the first cruise we were unable to purchase a bottle of Asti. We tried to order an after dinner drink but was unable to find bar service. The food in general was the biggest complaint we heard on the cruise. Some of our group walked out of Kim Harrisons second show, but I stayed to the end, thinking it had to get better. It didn't. What a difference from her first show.
A recap: Would we sail this cruise again? It would have to be about half the price of some of the other lines.