To begin with, this was my first Carnival Cruise. I traveled with my husband's family, there were 8 of us. I will review certain aspects of the ship and service as I recall below:
Port of Miami: Getting on the boat was a breeze, fast and easy! Getting off the boat was even faster. I thought we accidentally missed customs it was so easy, they simply collected our declaration forms and let us on our way. VERY different from my experience here in November where customs was over an hour wait.
Decor: The boat is an older ship, from the 90s and decorated in a very flashy way. The Grand Atrium is black and gold and neon colors & is a bit dated looking during the daytime hours, however at night it lights up beautifully! Much of the ship has an egyptian-like theme. Again, some of the rooms were pretty, others looked dated. Most of the ceilings were very low giving the ship a somewhat small feeling.
Daytime Dining: I generally go to buffets for breakfast on ships, however due to being with a family group of 8, two of which were in their 80s, we chose to use the dining room for breakfast. I was thoroughly impressed with the options and the felxibility in ordering what you please. On my next cruise with hubby, we will be sure to use the dining rooms more often for breakfast. The Horizon Grill had many many options! There was pizza every day, a sandwhich bar (with panini press), pasta bar, salad bar, create-your-own stir fry, and a hamburger/hot dog joint by the pool. Whil some of the food was delicious, it WAS typical buffet food. I enjoyed the macaroni & cheese and cheeseburger the most. There were very long lines on embarkation day and the seas day in the buffet.
Evening Dining: We had great service in the dining room on all three nights. The first night was tough because we were sailing with two elderly people who are very difficult to please when it comes to eating. They would constantly change their minds and/or complain. The wait staff did an excellent job of staying calm and making sure every order came out jut as requested. I cannot for the life of me remember one of their names, but the other was Ketut. They were great dancers too!! I found the food to be so-so in choices and quality. They weren't bad but they also weren't anything to brag about. The first night I had the Pumpkin, Squash and Cheddar Cheese Pot Pie, it was good, but was not filling. The other members of my group ordered very good spare ribs. There were only two uniques deserts each night along with the warm chocolate melting cake (which I now LOVE), ice cream, sherbert, fruit plate, and cheese selections. I did order the cheese plate on night one and it was warm, sorry I cannot eat warm cheese. The selections were good, had I been able to eat them. By the second night our waitstaff knew exactly what we wanted to drink with dinner and how we liked our desert drinks.
Stateroom: The room was a decent size. I had heard they are larger than RCL rooms, however I didn't notice much of a difference. The bed was larger than normal and very comfortable. There were plenty of lights in the room for a varying degree of brightness. The closet space was ample, although it lacked drawer space. Being that this was a short cruise these two things didn't matter as much because we lived out of the suitcase, had it been longer I would have preferred more drawers. There was a flat screen on the wall/ corner with a good variety of channels. There was no loveseat/couch as I am used to on RCL but it wasn't a big deal.
Bathroom: This was large for a cruise ship. My husband and I judge sizes of showers by the two person rule: if we can both stand in there, then it is "big" for cruise standards. This certainly was. My husband commented that he likes the textured blue bumpy floor, he felt it was a more secure feeling when the floor was wet. The extra little amenities were nice, toothpaste, shave cream etc. Our toilet was stained yellow on the seat, perhaps a new seat is in line.
Steward: I did not meet him, I did not see him, and the only reason I knew he existed was because my bed WAS made twice a day and we did get some cute towel animals. However, we didn't get a Carnival Caper on the first day and NEVER got a comment card (to be explained later.)
Shows: My husband and I did not attend the shows because we chose to watch Karaoke on the second night and there was a playoff football game on the third night. His grandparents and parents went each nigth and said they were good. The show on the third night was all about the history of rock and roll.
Karaoke: We enjoyed the Karaoke on nights two and three, it was great entertainment butt didn't get popular until later in the night.
Pool Area: We had no trouble finding seats for 8 together on the deck, but it was crowded. Perhaps we happened upon a group of seats at the right time. The deck was very busy on the sea day but also very fun and entertaining. The music was very loud (I am in my 20s and enjoy concerts on occaision, but this was a bit too loud) but they did play music geared toward a younger crowd. On other lines I hadn't experienced this.
Pictures: We enjoy doing the ship pictures and there were SO MANY to choose from. I want to estimate around 15 different backdrops each night. There was even an old west dress up theme on two nights.
Lounges: There were a lot of lounge onboard, however many times they were empty or reserved for the preteen/teen dancing. I guess this was good, so they wouldn't run amok at night. :)
Spa: I was very happy with the Spa. On the embarkation day we took a tour of the spa facilities and entered into a raffle. First of all I won a free algae wrap, scalp massage, and foot massage. I never win anything!! I had to use it while in port, which was certainly no problem for me. They were nice enough to schedule me for first thing in the morning before we would be allowed off the ship. It was amazing, wonderful, fantastic. I would recommend this to anyone! The facilities were very clean, not too small, and had a variety of options: sauna, steam room, showers, relaxation room, etc.
Comment Card: THIS disappointed me a great deal. I watched the debarkation video and they talked up the comment cards, they also mentioned the ability to win a free cruise from the raffle. I did not get one in my stateroom on the last night so I requested one from Guest Servies, who immediately directed me back to my stateroom attendent. After being bounced back and forth 3 times I gave up and assumed they did not care about my opinion. I will now be writing them an email with my opinion and further disappointment with basically being denied a comment card.
Overall: The ship did have a musty odor in some parts, but other parts were okay. The program for younger kids did a great job of keeping them busy and under control. The age group from about 12-16 was running a bit rampant on the ship at times, more so a reflection on the parents than the cruise line. Many of the guests on board were rowdy and at times rude. My husband's grandmother was in a wheelchair and there were numerous occaisions when we were waiting for an elevator that people would push past us and get on the elevator fully knowledgeable that we had someone in a wheelchair waiting to board. Of course the guests certainly are not the fault of the cruise line, I would hope not every sailing is like this.