My pregnant wife and I at the last second decided to take a "baby moon" to enjoy one last vacation before our bundle of joy arrives. As we didn't plan on taking another cruise as we just went on a 7 day Royal Caribbean Eastern cruise in Feb (Freedom of the Seas) my first goal was to find a port that we have never visited. My wife and I have always been 100% satisfied with RC but I noticed that Carnival was going to Grand Turk which we have never been to before. While looking online I also noticed that Carnival's Ocean View room was half the price of RC. Combining these two factors we decided that even though we had heard mixed reviews concerning Carnival we would never know for sure unless we tried it for ourselves.
1) Carnival is half the price of RC!
2) Guests are allowed to bring a small quantity of non-alcoholic beverages, I didn't know this but from seeing everyone else I'd say you could easily bring a 12 pack of water.
3) Ocean view room was significantly bigger then RC, although TV is not a flat screen and the bed was kind of hard. Shower is not enclosed with doors like on RC's pod; shower curtain makes the shower seem bigger than it really is. Bathroom also came with complimentary toothpaste, 2 razors, 1 Tums, & 1 Tylenol.
4) The entertainment shows are definitely better then what I've seen on RC even factoring in the RC ice skating shows. During the family showings the comedians performed a clean act and later in the night they performed an adult rated R show-both were very entertaining.
1) The most smokers I've ever been around. On multiple decks there would be signs thanking guests for not smoking, yet there would be smokers everywhere. Carnival does not implement this rule.
2) Entire ship looks very dated. Carpet is worn, robes in the room looked too dirty so we never touched them, and there is visible rust which is expected on a ship but should be touched up once and a while.
3) Even though we had requested early dining we were given the 8:15pm dinner time. I know I'm not elderly yet but really? The first night we requested to be switched and they said they would try but until we heard back to attend the 8:15 diner which of course we pre ate beforehand because we were starving. The next night about 2 hrs before 6 we found out our requested had been granted...guess the 1hr and a half wait to request the time change was worth it.
4) Gratuity is included on all drinks. I can understand the servers who bring you a drink on the deck getting a tip, but why should I tip the bartender for EACH drink I order regardless of their service.
5) Buffet is sorely lacking quality food. Small selection and all the buffet dining areas are split up. The dining area is very choppy and not all on one level like with RC.
6) Carnival's promenade deck is NOTHING compared to RC's Promenade. If you've ever been on a RC ship you probably noticed how convenient their promenade is in that you can walk from one end of the ship to other on the promenade deck, no so with Carnivals which is very short with few stores.
7) Excluding the Dining room staff for sit down dinner most of the "other" staff acted as they were only performing what was required of them. Meaning no one really greeted me and most of the time they looked as though they couldn't wait till their 8 hr shift was completed. On our last day before we left the ship we decided to try the dining room for breakfast. Bad idea...after we were sat we waited for 15 minutes and finally went to the manager to notify him we hadn't been helped by our server. The manager acted liked he didn't care and poured our water then instructed a server to take over. This server seemed very ticked off he had to wait on us and his service showed that feeling. On the last day all the staff seemed as they couldn't wait for us to get off "their" boat so they could be rude to the next set of cruisers.
8) Very small over crowded pools. If you're coming on board looking to relax next to the quiet pool think again. There is NO adult pool, the one that looks like its suppose to be the adult pool was over ran with rude kids who splashed and kicked water all over other people even though their parents were sitting right there.
9) No movie theater on board like RC. Carnival offers in room movies but I liked that on RC you could go to a movie theater to get that "going to the movies" feel.
10) On the night before arriving home on RC you can choose the time you'd like to depart the ship. Carnival asks if you have a departing flight you have to catch and if not they tell you when your exciting the ship. I liked being able to choose my time to exit the ship vs. waiting to be told when I could depart.
Final thoughts...I hope no one takes this the wrong way but I compare Carnival to Walmart and RC to Target. If your bottom line is price then Walmart aka Carnival is the company for you. Carnival offers the lowest price but you pay for it in the lowest quality on board. My wife and I would gladly pay more for a high quality experience with Target. Yes both cruise companies go to the same ports (majority of the time) but you have to ask yourself would you rather shop at Walmart or Target for 7 days?