I have been on several Carnival sailing before this one and I loved them all but found this one very disappointing.
Embarkation was a mess. In fact several people in my group including myself had received phone calls from Carnival prior to the sailing telling us embarkation would be from 2-4pm and not to show up before then. I found this a little strange.
The layout of the ship is very poor. It does not flow very well and it is difficult to get from one end of the ship to another. Most of the time you had to go through Deck 5 which meant going through the casino filled with smoke and walking thorough the shopping area. While the ship was bigger cabin wise, I found the public areas to be small for accommodating the number of people on this ship. The shops are nothing compared to what is offered on other ships. We encountered a lot of smoke on the ship and I had a constant smell of sewage in my bathroom. Other passengers complained about the same issues.
I found the food to be so so. Food portions were definitely smaller and quality was not as good as what I had experience on past sailings. The desserts selection was poor and tasteless - as if they were premade or bought. Service in the main dining room was good - but I felt the servers had to really hustle and had little time for interaction with the passengers. The Lidio dining was a mess - always congested with lots of long lines. We dined mosting in the main dining rooms and the Rotisserie which was very good. We ate a the Specialty restaurant two nights. The quality of food there is very good and worth the extra $30.
I did not care for the shows - they were very disappointing except for the last one Varoom which was good but not up to the past shows I had seen on Carnival. For the shows I attended, I notice there were only two people going around and taking drink orders. Places to sit and have a cocktail were very limited on this ship. They had service in the Casino area, but once you got past that there was nothing. They had a nice lounge area, but the seats had their back to the windows, so you could not sit and enjoy the view and there was no cocktail service for this area. The did have a nice coffee/pastry stand.
The pursers desk was not in a good location. It was located just outside the theater and there was a lounge/bar area right next to it with entertainment. It should have been in a quieter location. The selection of daily activities onboard the ship were poor and lame. There really was not much to do. Unfortunately were were one of the ships that did not make it to Mexico because of the Swine Flu outbreak.
While I understand Carnival's decision not to stop in Mexico, I feel that in light of the news coverage prior to our sailing that Carnival should have had a contingency plan already in place. There appeared to be no plan of action and the ship was scrambling to make last minute changes. Passengers were left in the dark with little information as all announcements were made over the PA system with no chance for any questions or answers. As a result, we ended up with a 6 days Cruise to No Where and a half day stop in SF in pouring rain.
What really bothered me was how Carnival handled this situation. To add insult to injury, we found out when we got home that cruises after us that are now scheduled for SF, Seattle and Victoria/Vancouver are getting some compensation. We received nothing. It is unfortunate that Carnival has chosen not to make any kind of a good will gesture. Many people have said they will not sail Carnival again.
One highlight of the cruse for us was Camp Carnival. My grandchildren loved it and it appeared that they did a good job.
It will be a long time before I take another Carnival Cruise.