Family of Four: years 47m, 46f, 20m, 16m Fourth cruise, 2nd on Carnival.
Travel To Port of Embarkation Came from Philly to New York via car. Easy traveling both ways due to timing of cruise. Pleasantly surprised by this. Parking is literally 20 feet away from where you need to be. $30 a day fee. Could easily see the car while on ship. Felt it was secure.
Ship Info -Deck - secret deck above the volley ball/basketball court. Quiet/Empty -First full day at sea was so foggy, you could hardly see the big TV screen on the Lido deck. Still got sunburned. They say this is typical of the first day at sea. -Weird thing about the adults only location, it was located on the balcony of the kids camp areas. I don't know if that was a good thing or bad thing Unfortunately, no seats are ever available in the adults area, so never sat their once. Just walked through to find seats each day. -If you are an MP3 listener, then try to go on back/front decks for sun, because the mid-ship was super loud when reggae band played, making it impossible to hear mp3. -Public bathrooms were very clean -Odd rooms faced the port at every stop, even rooms faced out. The advantages depend on your point of view. We liked the view from the odd rooms.
Ship Info -Dining Room -Golden room: Was in middle of boat so only have two sided view of sea. It had more tables of 4 then the platinum room, so you are more likely to have your own table when in a group of four. Quiet room and hardly any rocking. -Platinum room. located in the back of ship and had three sided view of sea. located above the engines and had a constant really loud sound and crazy engine vibrations. More tables of 8, so likely most shared tables. - We had 8:15p dinner for the first time. 8PM - This is a good time if you like to either nap before dinner or like to eat a late lunch. The sun goes down at around 8:45p so you don't have much time to view the skyline while eating. Also, many events are planned around this time and you miss out on a lot. I wouldn't do this again.
Ship Info -Pool -Forget about getting into a jacuzzi, as the kids totally owned all Jacuzzis. The adult area is meant to solve that issue. -My 16year old boy jumped in pool once, said it was freezing then stayed in jacuzzis for rest of day. This explains why Jacuzzis were inhabited by young ones all the time. -Still no seats ever available in the main middle pool deck. Still chairs reserved with towels/cups/etc. -One neat thing was a pool with a mechanical roof which was covered during windy/cold days, making it a nicer pool area for comfort. This was in the back of the boat on lido deck.
Ship Info -Suggestions -MANNERS: I really think cruise lines should post some general statements about what behaviors are expected during a cruise. Simple things like reaching over people's trays to get at food, bumping/pushing others trays when not necessary, picking up plates and deciding they aren't clean enough for you and then placing them back where others will pick them up, picking up food and smelling them from the tongs then placing the food back on the server, patience in lines, silence in all room hallways, etc. A few general guidelines like this would be worthy of a mention, since these things were constant events. - I wish they had trash cans around or places to put dishes after use. They depend so heavily on servers, that people would end up putting stuff on various ledges making the ship look junky. -Lanyards were totally necessary. Make sure you have one for each person. AS SOON as you get on the boat, go to guest services and have your room keys hole punched and your Safe card punched too. -Please be quiet during muster. If you continue to talk, it will take FOREVER.
Dining - Service was great everywhere, as always. - All feedback on pizza, Mongolian wok, sushi, fish/ships, calamari are true. All very good and don't miss trying. - We really enjoyed the dining room. Had one table for four. Missed only one day due to an event we wanted to attend. No strangers at our table, which my DH prefers. - Buffet - sometimes half the station is closed on port days or late mornings and lines were long. - Best to eat on the fish & chips floor since this is always less packed. - If you are feeling queasy during the cruise, go to sushi area and take some fresh ginger off the bar. It is very helpful. I would avoid the sushi the first night if you don't have sea legs immediately. -Eating at the dining was worth it to us. The food may not have always been in large portions, but it was another opportunity to feel special. You could wear casual clothes for four out of the five dinners. This meant cargo pants and tshirts for boys, which they preferred. -We skipped elegant night dinner in the dining room because we wanted to see the family comedy shows at the same time. We ate this diner at the red sail buffet. We did not regret it. A lot of people skipped this meal, so seating was packed. But, the flat iron steak was offered in the buffet lines and my son had three. Each steak being the size of a palm or smaller. HE LOVED IT! -Didn't have deli foods or burrito bar, but both were always busy. -Don't bring sushi to your room unless you eat it all. Lesson learned. stinky stinky. -Everyone seems to push the steakhouse, but frankly, the flat iron steak wasn't bad and I wondered if the some postings were meant to encourage you to feel as though you have to do it. Or possibly rationalizing the extra cost of a bad decision. If anyone is on the fence about whether to try the extra cost steakhouse, I would wait until you tried the dining room steak before making reservations at the steakhouse.
Beverages - Soda from bar, served in can $2.25 with tip. Tips always included so no need to have tip money on hand. - lemonade/ice tea/water drink access was difficult compared to the location of our room up front. If you wanted a lemonade while in cabin 8207, you had to walk 3/4 of the ship and up a floor to get to a drink station. -I allowed my kids to buy one non-alcoholic speciality drink on last day of cruise. It was a good incentive to ensure good behavior. Although, they were old enough that the incentive was not needed. -If I would have planned better, I would have brought two 12 packs of soda one definitely being GINGER ALE for nausea prevention. Unfortunately, we only brought one 12pack for the kids to share and the parents could have benefited from the ginger. We didn't even consider this, because it is unlike us, but we really should have.
Clothing Definitely bring a hoodie. Bring jeans if you are the type to get cold when windy. Temperature was nice outside and warm for June/July but once in awhile you would get a cold wind during day/evening. Also, comedy club was FREEZING!
Entertainment -The Magician was EXCELLENT!!!! DON'T MISS -Comedy shows (for all ages) were very fun. Very cold room. -If you have to play one bingo game, play the one where you win the cruise. $20 for card of three squares and not many people play. -Although I did not see the cruise director off stage at any time, Jorge was a fantastic personality and Carnival is lucky to have him. -Three movies in room available each day. Schedule on Fun Times. Saw Hurt Locker, Horton Hears a Who -Mini Golf was a challenge with the constant rolling of the ship. If you are a serious mini golfer, you better play when you are in a supper good/patient mood. -I was surprised about how few little ones were visible on the boat. That carnival camp must be terrific, because hardly a small child (8 and under) were seen. This was VERY different and happily surprising from other Carnival cruises I have been on. -Teenage H2o club hardly had any participants until midweek. Many were too cool to join up early. Eventually you saw a group of about 15 wandering together the last two days of cruise. -Take advantage of all the photo opportunities, even if you are sick of them. Even if you don't intend to buy a picture, by the end of the cruise, you will want to. And having more choices is always good. -MORNING SHOW WITH JORGE on TV. Definitely watch the two morning shows. They have trivia games where you call in and it gives you an opportunity to win something. I won the first day (several photo frames and a Cruise Ship medallion). It was great to start the cruise like that. -Use the photo gallery as a entertainment event. Looking at the pictures and spotting closed eyes or funny grimaces was a blast. You could see that some people did it on purpose, such as the whole group with closed/half closed eyes, or people pretending to be in mid sneeze. All hilarious to the point where I considered buying some.
Port & Shore Excursions - General -Cash: use US dollars!!! Do not use Canadian money. Canada ports take US dollars and since the exchange rate is in their favor, we actually end up getting a discount when using US dollars. Not worth exchanging money. -Not only use cruise critic for research, but trip advisor too for ports and port restaurant recommendations. - I thought we wold be able to get discounted hockey jerseys in each city but they didn't have any. I thought this was strange. Maybe both towns are not sports centric.
Port & Shore Excursions - St. John, NB -Billy's market in St. John excellent, walkable, and inexpensive lunch -Jetboatrides.com was legendary! This is what we will remember most. You needed to plan this on your own, and not through Cruise Line. Did it first thing in the morning at 10am and was back on the boat by 11am dropping off wet clothes. 7 minutes from port. $10 +2tip going to jet boats with Diamond taxi $13 + 2tip going back with Coastal taxi -We enjoyed St. John more than Halifax. Maybe because we planned an fantastic excursion.
Port & Shore Excursions - Halifax, NS -Reading the boards, I thought Halifax would be best to just walk around, but I wish we would have planned an excursion. I read a lot about Peggy's cove, but I thought it was silly to plan that excursion and have a limited time at the actual port. I wish I would have included this. I heard it was very nice. -Halifax was not a tourist city, but more of a city city. It was a nice city though. -Keep an ear out for special musicians serenading the boat when getting into port in Halifax and leaving port in Halifax. -Maritime museum in Halifax was interesting -Sugah store in Halifax board walk had crazy candy which was gourmet mixes of spices and chocolate or cute shaped candies. Worth it to get your travel gifts from there. -We made the mistake of being in port on July 1st (Canada Day). Super amount of people (tourists and locals). I wouldn't plan on visiting on this day again.
Disembarkation -We chose self debarkation. I think this is still so new, that most people don't choose it yet. Once our floor was called to disembark, we were out of the ship and in our car within 10 minutes. Crazy good.
Summary -It was worth it. Would do it again.