We just got back from our second mexican riveria cruse with carnival, first on on the Pride. We have sailed with many other lines besides carnival and after sailing on the Pride 2 years ago, we decided to go with carnival again because we were so impressed with our first experience. (not to mention the cheap price). Bottom line, it would have been better to go with RCL who had the same itinerary but was more expensive. In our case we got what we paid for. We ALWAYS eat in the dining room for dinner, but on this cruise we ate there only twice. We were upstairs so no view of the dancing waiters, our server couldn't be bothered to get our son a glass of milk, and was generally an unhappy guy, he was quite put out if we wanted something not on the menu ie: iceberg salad, anything to drink other than water etc. We ended up just eating upstairs in the lido cafe. Although disappointed in the dining room, I was still happy to not be cooking dinner myself. The food was good, but not excellent.
We went to most of the nightly shows and we gave the entertainers an A+ for effort, but they were really a motley crew and just didn't have it together to be considered great.
Our room steward did an excellent job cleaning our room, but usually we get to know our room steward and see him and chat, this guy was always quick and efficient, so much so that we never saw him, we would leave and he would be in and out so fast we never caught up with him to thank him.
I wonder if service has plummeted due to the fact that the tips are now tacked onto the room charge? I wonder if the cruise lines are even giving all the tips to those working for them? If we do decide to sail on Carnival again, next time I would have them remove the tips from our room tab and pay those who deserved them, I think this prepaid tip thing is really not helping motivate the crew. I believe in tipping well, it's not about stiffing the crew, just the opposite, I think the crew is getting stiffed by the cruise line.