My fiancee and I cruised Carnival for the first time, June 4th for my 30th birthday. It was going only to Catalina Island, and that's why we booked it. We have been there many times and I have worked on the island many times and know it well.
A little background on us, both in our early 30's no children, 3 dogs, active, work in detail oriented jobs and travel often, and we LOVE to eat. We have sailed three times on RCCL's Monarch of the Seas and loved every bit of it.
We booked the cruise directly through Carnival for $139 for 4 nights.
We live very close to S.D. but stayed at the Westgate hotel, as I had a photo shoot in San Diego two days before.
The Westgate is LOVELY, palatial to say the least. Check out my tripadvisor.com review if you want to know more.
Got to the port, got on the ship very fast.
Went directly to the room and was kind of put off by the dark gray, black and orange decor. Layout was great for an inside cabin, loved the medicine cabinet and storage. Decor was not pleasing to the eye. There was black long hair all over our duvet. We are both blonde. After calling the cabin stuard, this was fixed immediately.
We did not do any excursions, I know Catalina island well. We went to the beach club and layed out, and had some cocktails. If anyone wants suggestions about Catalina, shoot me an email. There are alot of fun things to do, and places to eat. **Get a chocolate covored frozen bananna at the candy shop! They are the best.
We missed the captains reception while we were at dinner, I guess they only have one, and really did not take in any of the shows.
The New Serenity Deck:
No serenity at all. The most annoying thing, and it was bad, was there were two different set of speakers, playing two different sets of music, loudly We sat in the middle and could hear both. When brought to the attention of the towel attendant, he stated "what would you like me to do about it"? I said, please fix it. He stated he could not. WOW. Get there early for a place to lay, people leave their things on the chairs and leave for the day. There is no one to enforce any standards.
Closes at 8, so our attempt on the last night to do anything there did not work out. Mind you it is not dark until about 9 right now. This was disappointing.
Lovely to look at but not so comfortable. None of the chairs or small tables move so you are stuck sitting on one position. Stocked with games and books. The last night we opted to play a quiet board game there but the library was made very loud by the crazy piano lady singing down below in the atrium bar. It would have been ok if she was any good. She did not know half of the songs she was singing, and she sang in a monotone, like an American Idol tryout, gone very very very wrong. We retreated to be early.
Pools and Hot Tubs:
Hot tubs were so overfilled with drunk people that they were touching, there should be a limit of 10 people per hot tub. They were so over filled, I wish I had a photo to show you. I could put it on the cover of a greeting card. Its like seeing how many people you can put in a phone booth. Someone could enforce some kind of limit. We did not go in the pool.
Layout of the ship:
Confusing to say the least! Was not easy to navigate. Some staff gave us wrong directions also,
The Casual Dining:
Buffet: Ok, below what I have to compare it to which is RCCL's Monarch.
The Mongolian Grill: Very neat concept, and fresh and good.
The Sandwich Deli: Great Panini's but if you like real cheese not process pasteurized American, than you must find it on the buffet which they have if you are lucky, but if you give it to he Sandwich chef he wil gladly use it. I'm allergic to fake cheese so this is a big deal for me.
The Pizza Bar: Order the calazoni, takes 8 minutes but you will love it, made fresh just for you.
The Dining Room:
Breakfast all days: Breakfast was never as ordered, my order was never complete, and the wait staff should really take better notes for orders of picky people like me. When I over my eggs over medium well, and get them runny it grosses me out. When I have to pick the fat off of my bacon, I am disappointed.
Lunch: We did not eat lunch in the main dining room.
Chocolate Buffet: The was just chocolate added to the regular buffet. This in no way compares to Monarch of the Seas midnight chocolate buffet which is a feast for the eyes are well as the palate.
Dinner: Way too many problems. We ate at the first seating one night and "my time dining" the others. Food on formal night was fine, but every other night there were MANY issues with the food and service.
Here is my list of main issues I had:
-Shrimp cocktail was very soggy. Lke the shrimp was frozen, let thaw and not boiled or rinsed after. Not bad taste though.
-Lasagna was not truly lasagna. Chucks of cheese was not melted, green sauce and green olives was not appealing, and was not heated all the way through.
-Drinks take forever
-Bread is not fresh
*I could go on and on.
* More than anything, is the issue of the staff not getting the orders correct or complete, even when asking for cheese for a potato, simple items like splenda or butter, this got annoying very fast.
The biggest issue we had was on the last night in the dining room, (our servers were Nii, and her assistant, I am sure his name was spelled Nigher) could not get anything right, I am picky and I like my condiments. We were rudely told by Nigher that "do you need anything else? Are you sure? I hope you are sure because I have other tables to deal with and other guests that need to eat". Now, mind you, I ALWAYS give my complete order when I place my order. How I want it, and what I want with it. If the servers listened the first time it would not have been a problem. I have never had this issue on RCCL. I have food allergies and have to be careful. We left angry, before desert and without tipping. I am SURE he would not have said this if we would have been at a bigger table. Ours just happened to be for two. The server who oversees the assistant (Nii) should pay better attention. The same one just by chance that we had eaten at that morning. By chance, the same servers assistant.
We vacated our cabin about 10 minutes before the dining room closed. We like to sit in the dining room and eat while we wait for our tags to be called. Just by chance, the same servers assistant came to our table that morning. Immediately our tags were called and we left the table without eating, I was NOT going to be served by someone who was that rude to me. We smoothly got off the ship, but were shocked to see our luggage just sitting there for anyone to take. It did not look secure at all.
For $139 it was worth it. Would I ever cruise on Carnival again? No way. Its style is definately not for me. The staff was the major problem, both in the dining room and in common areas. The food way below par.
PS. The warm chocolate melting cake was HEAVEN.
Looking forward to RCCL's Radiance on October 4th to Ensanada and Cabo for our 5 year anniversary! D1 here we come!