This having been my tenth cruise (nine with Carnival, three being on the Ecstasy), I've come to expect certain qualities from the staff. Some of those qualities were met. Some were not even close.
While Kirk and Jason (CD and Asst CD, respectively) were great, the rest of the staff left much to be desired. We have informally dubbed this the "No No cruise" as we were denied nearly everything we asked, right down to asking the room steward to remove the water and sodas from the room. Our requests were all things we had received on prior cruises, including the Ecstasy, yet were denied them on this sailing.
I liked Kirk's relaxed delivery when he spoke to the audience which gave each event a friendly atmosphere. Jason is high-spirited and very personable with a quick wit. Each hosted events with their own flare, standing out among the rest of the staff and making it fun for the audience.
The entertainment was, for the most part, up to par. We disliked the first comedian, a ventriloquist who should have never left his day job. Even from a far distance, without my glasses, I could see his mouth moving. We could not understand much of what the "dummy" was saying. However, we were thrilled to have Kim come aboard and entertain us with her hysterical humor. She is a comedic riot and sings with an amazing voice!
Our waiter was, to put it politely, less than stellar. After the Maitre'D became involved in the situation, it still took 2hrs to finish dinner while the tables around us (with other waiters) were finished before we received our main course. Our waiter never introduced himself, never participated in the entertainment, never spoke to us other than to take our orders, and never performed the napkin folding as all our other waiters have done in the past. Each night there were items ordered that either never arrived or were incorrect. I could go on about how terrible it was but instead I will simply say this...I've had better service from the drive thru window at McDonald's!
Several people mentioned taking a bus to Merida for shopping and said the trip took about 30 minutes and cost about $3pp each way. The cost was $10rt and by the time we walked to the bus depot, waited for the bus, and took the trip to Merida (closer to an hour ride), we had very little time to shop before we needed to be back to the ship at 2:30. As this is not a tourist area, the shop owners did not recognize U.S. currency and had difficulty communicating the exchange rate. This also took up a lot of our precious time. I do not suggest taking this self-excursion.
In all my cruises, I've only experienced two debarkations which ran smoothly and, for the most part, hassle free. This was not one of them! Guests without luggage in hand should not be allowed to disembark the ship along with the self-assist passengers. My suggestion to Carnival is this: If you are a self-assist passenger (no luggage out the night before) you should be issued a wrist band. If you don't have the wrist band, you don't disembark until the ones with it are off the ship! Furthermore, the self-assist passengers should be off the ship before everyone else is called down. We were the last self-assist passengers called to the gangway and hadn't even gotten on the elevator before the other passengers were called. I realize Carnival is trying to clear the ship as quickly as possible. However, this could be done more efficiently and, in the long run, more quickly if they would not "bottle-neck" the passengers on the gangway!
Overall, the cruise was fun but much of it had to do with the people surrounding me. Some were family, some I knew from a past cruise, some I met on the CC roll call. All were great, fun-loving people and we had a great time together.