Let me preface this review by saying I am in the hotel/restaurant and tourism business. I help run a 4 star resort in Colorado. I have been on 4 other cruises (RCCL, NCL and Carnival before)
The ship itself was gorgeous. It was very fun and decorated beatifully. This ship had the best pool layout of all the ships I have been on. I loved having the movie/tv outside and the theater style areas with the lounge chairs. This is the only cruise where I did not have to worry about finding a chair as there are several places to lay out.
The food was great. I thought is was much better than NCL and RCCl. There were plenty of dining options. Do not miss the burrito bar or the deli or the 24 hour pizza. For foodies you MUST check out Scarletts! additional $30.00 for lobster bisque, spinach salad, 24oz porterhouse and amazing desserts was a steal! If there is a must on the cruise this is it. The staff was amazing and the wine sommolier was the best.
For our room I actuall upgraded us to a balacony. This was the first time I have ever had one and was great. I do not think I could go back to a window view ever again.
The staff was great (but please read further) The bar staff at the pool and at the shows rocked. Look for Melvin on the pool deck he was AMAZING and the most helpfull.
The spa was one of the best I have ever been to and I am a spa snob. It was nicely done and very relaxing.
The other great points of the ship are: Pricing was not bad for drinks or extras like spa or cappacino or sundaes from the Java Shop Do not miss the martini tasting on the first day and on wednesday Rosies diner was a lot of fun and offered great variety The shows were vary entertaining
That was the posistive now the negative
With the downfall of the economy Carnival along with the other cruise lines have had to lower rates (one of the reasons I took this cruise) However this is drawing in people for lack of better words should not be traveling. They have no common sense of what service is and how to interact with the staff. I encountered several people that were just plain rude to the staff and were in the wrong and have no idea how to act in an upscale social setting. In this respect it has an effect on the staff as you could tell they were tired. Some things I encountered on our voyage was:
Cabin - was not up to my expectations. Pubic hairs in drawers, stains on curtains,moldy shower curtain,stains on towels, life jackets and robes not in the correct place and the glass window that I paid extra for on the balcony was filthy. All of this on embarktation.
Fine dining - the head server was nice but you could tell he was tired. To make things worse we had some of those people who have never traveled before and were just plain rude and stupid towards our service staff. From this we recieved chipped wine glasses and water glasses as well as dirty menus.
I did talk with our room steward and waiter about the above and they said sorry. On day three when I noticed the gratuities were posted I went to guest services and told them of my troubles and had them removed so I can tip on my own. That night the floor manager came to my cabin to apologize and see how everything was. The next day the same was done by the dining room manager. I was not looking for anyhting in return but I am in the industry and thought they needed to know as it did effect how I felt about our room and what I paid for.
Overall the trip was great except for the above and the weather. The boat was amazing and that is what I care about most. Was not thrilled about the ports. Costa Maya and Belize suck. Grand Cayman is the best but were not there for long.
On a personal note, with all these new mega ships coming out I do not know if I will continue to go on those large ones like the current one the Carnival Valor. at times if felt like hearding cattle to buffets and getting out of the boat to the ports. I was actuall in a slingy (shoulder surgey 3 weeks prior)and that did not stop anyone from pushing or shoving.