First time on Carnival... have sailed Celebrity from Baltimore last year... part of an annual family vacation.
(This review may have a lot of "food complaints" included... but when you take a cruise, you expect a high-level of performance in this area!)
Embarkation went smoothly... even with having to pick up all the tickets on site... since we booked two staterooms just one week prior. We arrived at the port approximately 12:30PM from Tampa International... and using the Bay Shuttle service proved to be a smart choice for the five of us... since it would have taken two taxis or a long wait for the Carnival-provided bus to fill up!) The baggage porter was extremely helpful, indicated which room assignments and color tags required (he provided them)... one of our rooms was a "guarantee"... so we were not aware of the assignment until arrival.
The ship was fully booked... so there was no chance to purchase a stateroom upgrade... :-(
We had signed up for all of the shore excursions as soon as we boarded the ship... the tickets were delivered to our stateroom that evening... as promised. (If you sign up on the first day, there's a raffle that occurs that evening... and if your order form is selected, all the excursions ordered are free! With five of us going on four sets of excursions, this could have been a windfall!)
General positive comments...
- Our stateroom steward (Eusebio) was excellent! He was truly on top of things... keeping the room always in order, and fully supplied with fresh towels.
- The excursions that we had selected were great... Mayan Ruins (Costa Maya and Belize), Jungle Boat (Belize), Stingray City (Cayman), Hell and back (Cayman), and Horseback Riding (Cozumel)... all the tour guides that we had "knew their stuff", and were very personable.
- Our Dining Room waitstaff were also very much on top of things... after the first night (more later)...
- The staterooms exceeded expectations... one inside and one outside...
General "not-so-positive" comments...
- The first night in the dining room (early seating 5:45PM - Carnivale Room), we felt like we were being rushed from start to finish... and every evening, the lighting would signal the waitstaff to perform some type of brief strained show! (If I ever hear the Macarena again, I'll explode! - Dining Room, Lido Deck, Show... arghh!)
- The food preparation was inconsistent in quality. Some of the deserts were good, but overall... bad experience.
- Carnival's top menu items were terrible... prime rib, lobster, filet mignon... I am NOT going out of my way to criticize!
- The waitstaff tried on a number of occasions to remedy the situation, but it almost always went from bad to worse...
- Lobster was hit and miss (undercooked, overcooked, then finally one edible piece!)
- I am convinced that the quality of their meat purchases is sub-par vs. it all being the "cook's fault".
- Most of the deserts appeared to have gelatin in most of their recipes! (Cheesecake and Pumpkin Pie are not supposed to jiggle!)
- Many of the hallways had a "funky" odor... nauseating... and on some decks, the carpets were either stained and/or threadbare.
- The Brasserie Buffet (Lido Deck) was very unorganized for a shipful of 2000+ people... and the floors were dangerous to walk when wet.
- There were way too many flies (insects) in the eating area... and the temperature of the facility was fairly warm for an air-conditioned room.
- The ship announcements were extremely difficult to listen to... since they did not appear to use all of the PA system.
- We had expected to hear a bit more from the Captain throughout the cruise (since Celebrity is what we're basing the communication level on)... but he was rarely heard from... a few cameo appearances.
- We were very disappointed in the quality of the various shows...
- One of the main performances, Shout, was a poor production (i.e. very disjointed musical periods) that included two stars that were miscast for this type of show. (The accent for one of them was too distracting... since these were mostly American R&R classics!)
- Two of the comic acts were not that amusing... a magician/comedienne (not funny) and a comedian that tones down his act during prime time... (he may be good at the adult show).
- The Bingo Board lights were out on two spaces... this may be a nit, but they were aware of the problem all week... and didn't fix it!
- Many of the common areas had dented fixtures and/or cracked mirrors... yes, I understand that it's an old ship!
In general, the best parts of the cruise were some of the key crew... dining room waitstaff and stateroom steward.
I could not recommend this cruise line/vessel class based on the above... the ports of call are served by numerous other lines... and I would find it hard to believe that we were the only group that felt this way on this trip...
That's it for now...