My husband and his brother's family took the Southern Caribbean cruise for the 2009 Thanksgiving holiday. The three ports were St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. We have cruised with Royal Caribbean and Princess, so this was our first Carnival cruise. Overall, we had a blast, but I would not cruise Carnival again.
Cruise Director: Fabulous! Malcolm, I know you are reading this and you were the hit of the ship! One of the best cruise directors I have ever come across. You knew him by sight, you knew his name, and you loved him. Very visible, and very funny. ***** 5 Stars !!!!
Deck Service: Excellent! There was never a lack of a server and they all knew our names and what we drank by the second day. Of course, there is a charge for soda and alcohol and I think the servers may work off what they sell. In any case, they were very friendly and attentive. The prices of the drinks leave much to be desired, and this is where Carnival fails. ***** 5 Stars for Service ** Star for Price
Room Steward: Great! Buhndi was our room steward and did a great job. The room was always clean, the ice bucket was always full, and a towel animal to greet us each nice with chocolates. The only difference between Royal Caribbean and Carnival is on Royal Caribbean they seem to be invisible. The rooms are always clean, but you never see them. It's like they sneak in and out. On Carnival, we saw the room stewards quite often. **** 4 Stars
The Room: We had a balcony suite. The room was clean, and nice. Bathroom was good sized and I liked the shelves in the bathroom. Plenty of closets and drawers also. We were next door to the people we were vacationing with and we asked them to take down the divider on our balconys, we had to call them twice, but the second time they sent someone right up. What we didn't like was on the day before the last day of the cruise, they shut it without notifying us. The balcony doors do not slide, they close and with the wind on a ship, they are very loud when they close. We had a note in our stateroom one evening from a neighbor who asked that we not slam the door as they had a sick baby in their room. PEOPLE - WHY ARE YOU BRINING A BABY, ESPECIALLY A SICK BABY ON A CRUISE SHIP???? This is a complaint that should have been made to Carnival as we didn't design the ship, but we did make an effort and held the door each time we went out on the balcony so it did not make a lot of noise. **** 4 Stars
Embarkation: Very SLOW. We arrived at approximately noon and waited for at least 1 1/2 hours to board. The line we were in only had 5 tellers and they seemed to be taking their breaks or lunch - so there were maybe 2 or 3 available for about 100 people in our line. ** 2 Stars - Needs Improvement
The Ship: The layout was nice and it was easy to find your way around, except for the room hallways, they all looked the same. The dining room was nice, but our dinner table was in the corner and ceiling was very low. It made it very warm and claustrophobic at dinner time. The dining room was 2 floors, and had a very high ceiling in the middle. Not sure whey they decided to put such low ceilings on the outskirts of the dining room. Be sure you ask for a table in the middle of the dining room! The overall decor of the ship was ok. It actually made the ship seem older than it really was. The low ceilings throughout also made the rooms look much smaller than they really were. The pool areas were nice and you never had a problem finding a chair on the decks. The workout area was very small, and I had to walk around the spa and workout area 3 times to find the Yoga room, which was also very small. I did use the spa, and everything is clean, but Carnival needs to add more room for these amenities! All you seen upon entering the spa is closed doors. *** 3 Stars - Ok
Dining Room Service: The service in the dining room was good, not great. The staff was friendly, but not overly friendly and did not take the time to get to know you. Larry was our waiter and always seemed to be in a hurry. Only once the whole cruise did he stop and actually have a conversation with us. Overall, the food was hot and service was fast. **** 4 Stars
Entertainment: The entertainment was also just ok. The best show was the impersonator. She was great! The comedy show was ok, the hypnotist was ok. The first night the carnival dancers performed and I was very dissapointed, but they made up for it with the tribute to the beatles. *** 3 Stars
Food: The food overall was just ok. The best thing was there was a lot of it and we pretty much ate every 2 hours. We had breakfast and lunch at the Lido Buffet almost everyday. There was a large selection, but like all buffets, the food was not hot just lukewarm, and drink service was invisible. You could get coffee, tea, and lemonade for free from the machine, but if you wanted a soda or cocktail - good luck finding anyone. The only thing that was quick in the buffet was the server waiting to clear your table. The dining room food was also just ok. On most cruises you gain 5-10 pounds, I did not gain any on this cruise and actually may have lost a few. Not much of a wide selection, same salads night after night, and I'm over the chocolate melting cake. Carnival needs more variety on their menu! In addition, they were stingy with the food. You had to ask if you wanted another of something and on the last night which was Prime Rib, the pieces were small. My husband hinted that he was still hungry to the waiter on several occasions, but it fell on deaf ears. DO NOT go to the Dining Room for Breakfast, unless you have nothing else to do that day. The wait is approx. 45 minutes just to get your breakfast, and once again the drink waiter is invisible. I think the breakfast is where they actually train the new waiters. *** 3 Stars