I'm a cranky, single 63 year old Florida Q-Tip who was on his 80th cruise to once again crank his patience threshold back up to a higher level in order to deal with the everyday crap of life........which is running pretty high these days thanks to the "Flatheads" inside the "Almighty Beltway"
Carnival is an affordable line for single travelers (CAT 1A ONLY) (yes, you pay the 150% - probably more like 165% now as the fare seems to includes some vague amount over and above the 150% that is hard to pin down actually)-. The RCI Brands really slap it to ya unless they are stuck with an abundance of cabins still available at the proverbial last minute.
I avoid the 1A cabins in the bow of the vessels on Riviera and Main Decks. The sounds of the hawser motors or the anchor chain can be a VERY rude awakening at some early hour.
I also like Carnival because they cover the basics important to me very well - cabin size and comfort, food quality, and level of service. The rest of the craziness is not important to me as I can pick and choose how much of this I may or may not want to include in my time and space.
After 80 cruises, I not there for the entertainment, the on board shops, the Spa Experience, or the casino. These areas are usually concessions and not staffed or managed directly by the given cruise line.
I have learned from all these cruises that the Spas are overpriced for under-quality treatments, the shops are stocked with pricey items and snobby sales people - although once in a while one can do OK IF you have done your homework. The liquor and cigarette prices were very very competitive on this voyage to the land prices in Cozumel and Grand Cayman.
Entertainment is not a strong point on many lines and this cruise ran the gamut. The core Carnival dancers and singers were very upbeat but the rotating "stars" were all over the place.
The casino was very busy most of the time, hard to get a slot machine later in the evening; but the vast majority of the slots are very old and outdated, particularly if you get around to the myriad casinos now all over the country. The consensus on the slots were that they were very good at cleaning out one's wallet. Captive audience ?
The Craps table was alot of fun ! There was a core group that played every afternoon or evening, depending on the day (sea day vs port day), for a couple of hours and got on well. I am not sure the croupiers cared much for it but that is unimportant to say the least.
On the whole the average min table bet was $5.
I long ago got away from assigned seating dining (main/late) and doing formal nights. It is strictly shorts and slacks. For me, the Anytime Dining option is GREAT. I no longer have to make dumb small talk to a bunch of twits that I have nothing in common with; and I am quite sure that to some I am insufferably boring and over opinionated - it's a win-win thing !
I found the food on this voyage in the dining room to be consistently very good and service was top notch. I did not visit the extra cost dining venue and the the food in the Lido was good as well, but the hot dishes were not always warm which was ok in some cases as the food was not dried out.
The 24 hour pizza place was ALWAYS busy from 11AM till the wee hours of the morning. Most popular were the Goat Cheese (which is superb) and Pan Pizzas and the Calzones. The Turkey Wrap and Pastrami sandwiches out of the Deli area were good as well. Never tried the Sushi Bar, but it was a busy place. The Room Service menu was standard fare but very tasty
For chocolate lovers, go for the Chocolate Melting Cake served in the dining rooms and the Lido and the Chocolate cake on the room service menu with vanilla or coffee ice cream.
So what did I actually do when not eating or gambling ? I spent alot of time on the underused and very tranquil open promenade deck with a book and my MP3 player just chilling out and avoiding the madness of the "Pool Pit Area" on Lido Deck where the noise level got quite intense in the afternoons. The aft pool area, where the pizza spot is, can be pretty mellow at times as well.
Enjoyed the Movies and the Concerts shown on the big screen on Lido Deck
I did not purchase or do any excursions. I bought some single malt scotch and Lemoncello in Grand Cayman and nothing in Cozumel and did not even get off the ship in Ochos Rios.
And oh yes, I did alot of GREAT people watching both on and off the vessel. I am never really bored when there are people and animals to watch.
I enjoyed this cruise alot and did manage to crank up the patience threshold to keep me going.
I would definitely recommend this cruise to folks because it has a nice balance and pacing of sea days to port days, the ports offer good beaches and Carnival is a good line to sail on because it attracts all kinds of people from all walks of life and monetary station from all over the world. Carnival is very egalitarian with little or no attitude where one can just relax and be themselves pretty much without any hassles, which is not always true on other lines......but then anything in life is what and how you make and do of it..........