For the newest ship in the fleet, I was expecting a few more bells and whistles, or something, but really this ship was not much different or better in my opinion than the Valor we sailed on several years ago. Perhaps we are not cruise people, because I was not impressed with the ship.
Embarkation: Quick and painless once we got inside the terminal. The wait outside was a little bit long, but I think we got there about the same time as a lot of other people. Overall no real complaints here.
First Impression: The decor was toned down quite a bit from that of the Valor which we had sailed on several years ago. Two thumbs up to Carnival on that one. Very pretty. We had a balcony room on the Lido deck by the elevators, I was afraid we would have noise problems, but it was really very quiet. The room was your standard Carnival balcony room.
Room Steward: Not impressed at all. He came in 2x a day, but did no more than he had to. My son left a dirty spoon on the counter and it stayed there until the end of the trip. We didn't even get a towel animal on the last night of the cruise.
Breakfast: Pretty good - breakfast is really hard to do wrong.
Lunch: What can I say - the dishes were not anything that I was interested in off the buffet. So I won't be eating any cheeseburgers or pizza for quite a while. We did discover the gem that was the bbq on the 5th deck. Sliders, quesadillas, and other assorted food was awesome with no wait. We also went to lunch in the dining room one day and that was really good. The deli sandwiches are always a favorite of ours.
Dinner Service: Our waitstaff was awesome - these 2 were the best part of the ship. Alex from Bulgaria and Valdamyer were an excellent team. They made sure that my toddler had a full cup of milk right away each night. They remembered everyone's names and preferences after the 1st night.
Dinner: This is usually the part that I love, but to be honest, the selection was not impressive this time. I saw a lot of recycled dishes - I swear the ribs were on the menu for 3 days. Carnival could use some improvement on the menu's here. The food was just warm, definitely not hot. The kids ordered pizzas a few times and the pizza came out on a plate whole. A pizza cutter would have gone a long way. The melting cake was not done enough, like it was rushed. Way too runny and not even good. I was really looking forward to these too.
Shows: We missed the show Saturday night because we were exhausted from our day of travel. The country music show we actually got up and left from. It was obvious that the dancers and singers weren't all that into country music, this show could be improved greatly. Loved Edge the juggler - hysterical. We also enjoyed Dancing in the Streets. I fell asleep during Get Ready. I skipped the magician - but my family did like it. And the legends show we skipped.
Photographs: What a waste of trees. I would suggest that Carnival give tickets and allow people to look up the pictures that they want and then have them printed. It was painful to see so many photographs thrown away. If the prices were more reasonable I would have bought quite a few of the pictures, but at $22 each that is just not doable for us. I would suggest offering a package that people could buy all of their photographs for a set price, or better yet, for the price we pay to cruise and since they print all of the pictures anyway only to waste them when people don't buy them - give them to us.
Internet Service: While I typically do not drag along my computer to surf the internet on vacation, I had some homework assignments due for class while we were on-board. Wow - this was a major irritation for me. I had to pay $30 for 45 minutes of service that was so slow I used 15 minutes for 3 minutes of work. For service this slow and crappy and the amount we pay to cruise, Carnival should just offer free wi-fi - it certainly is not worth the price they charge - a complete rip-off.
Ports: We loved the ports we actually got to see. I was however very disappointed to learn from a contact in Costa Maya that the other 2 ships scheduled to dock in that port arrived and docked and we only saw the lights of the port as we sailed away for a "fun" day at sea. Apparently Carnival and the port are having some disputes over $ - sorry we seemed to be used as pawns in that game.
Waterslides: Every time my kids tried to go to the waterslides they were closed. They were really looking forward to using them.
Mini Golf: Maybe on a different build Carnival will consider adding the mini golf and basketball courts somewhere inside the ship? It was way to windy to try and play either of these games. But there was always the arcade for the kids at $1.50 per game.
So it seems to me that Carnival wants to suck as much money out of a passenger as they can and give very little in return. We received a $20 refund for missing a port of call. The only activity that was hastily added we thought might be fun was bingo. So we used that $20 refund for bingo cards. Only to find out that the screen, on this brand new ship is not working, so the games were made super simple and went by quickly, really felt like a true waste of my money.
Overall we did have a good time despite all of the things that really irritated me about the ship. Will we cruise again, no. We are apparently just not cruise people. But I'm sure there are people that sailed that loved everything about the boat - it was just not for us.