EMBARKATION: Having cruise from Port Canaveral many times, I knew what was expected as far as the length of time required to get through the numerous stations, but nothing prepared me for this. There was a delay in the debarkation of the returning ship, that delayed us coming aboard. Friends that had arrived earlier went through the check in process fairly quickly, but stood in the entranceway to the ship for over 2 hours, with no AC. There were people sitting and laying across their carryons in the long hallway, which we could see from our very long line in the main area. Once we were checked in, we went through 2 more lines to get S&S and then to have our cards looked at. I am not sure what the second check was for as we had received our cards just a few moments before. Of course, since we were not told to have them out for the ladies, numerous people had put them up, causing the line to back up further. Instead of the normal check in of 1 hour, it took us almost 3 to get on the ship.
THE SHIP: First off, let me say that the ship is beautiful. The color scheme is very tasteful and not bright green like the Victory. Also since I was on the Victory last October, I knew the layout, thus keeping myself from being totally confused. The dining rooms are Gold and Platinum and even with the bold colors, they turned out really nice. All of the lounges are fantastic, even the Cinn-a-Bar that is bright red. I was very impressed.
THE SERVICE: I was somewhat disappointed in the service. The room did not stay as clean or neat as our past cruises. Though I have to say, the steward was very nice about not disturbing you when the privacy card was out. The only problem then was getting him to come back once he checked on you the first time. His evening service was somewhat better and of course, the towel animals were always amusing. Our dining room service was really bad. The first night, we were not asked what we wanted to drink or even if we wanted something. Several people ordered 2 appetizers and never received them, plus out of the 8 diners, 2 got the wrong food completely. We decided to give the staff the benefit of the doubt, but unfortunately it only got worse. We ended up eating on the Lido Deck or in the Supper Club, only utilizing the dining room table three times out of 9 days.
On previous cruises, you could always see staff cleaning and shining, but I did not see that on this ship. For a ship that has only been in the fleet a short time, it is not looking very good to me.
THE EMERALD ROOM: For those of you that are thinking about trying the Supper Club, by all means, spend the bucks, it is definitely worth it. The food is magnificent, the service perfect and when we returned for our second and third night, the waitress remembered our name and that I liked coffee with my meal. I didn't get that in the regular dining room. We would have gone more nights if we thought we could afford it.
OUR ROOM: We selected an aft balcony and loved it. We were about 2/3 of the way down the ship, with a perfect view of everything. The layout was great and well worth the money we spent.
ENTERTAINMENT: Others have talked about the KJ Greg. We loved him! He made karaoke so much fun and we spent a lot of time in there. The Welcome Aboard show we had seen before, though we did really enjoy the male lead. The second show was magnificent. The dancing and singing were really good. As for the cruise director, John Heald, I'm sorry, I didn't care for him. Prior to the trip, we read many reviews about how great he was. My husband and I found his humor to drag on. When he began a skit and got to the point, he just kept going to where it was no longer funny. After awhile we started to avoid his performances, even turning them off the tv. I'm sure many will say we just didn't appreciate his style, well maybe so. I just know I have enjoyed other CDs much more.
THE SHORE EXCURSIONS: SInce we were originally scheduled for the Eastern and changed to Western due to hurricanes, I was disappointed at the start. I resigned myself to having a good time regardless and making the most of it. But, I have to ask a question (one that was uttered by many people). If you don't want us to get off at a port that is dangerous, why take us there? Several ports we were told to not get off the ship without a Carnival tour. We don't do tours, so were not happy they told us to stay on the ship. We did so for Belize, but didn't for Progresso and had a wonderful time. Maybe Carnival needs to rethink the situation.
OVERALL: We tried to make the best of a bad situation, remembered we were on a cruise, enjoyed the food and the friends. Would I do it again on this ship? NOPE! Would I do Carnival again? PROBABLY, but it will take me awhile to get the "taste out of my mouth". After 8 cruises, this one is last on the list of enjoyment and service.