We are very experienced cruisers, mostly with Princess, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. We took this cruise because the price was very attractive, we live near the port and we could use a week of relaxing. We were a little reluctant about cruising Carnival as we had not used the line in years, but our concerns were unfounded - this cruise exceeded our expectations in almost every way and was an excellent value.
- Cabin was very roomy for an inside. Bathroom was very reasonable size for an inside, especially the shower
- Food was excellent in the dining room, and good in the buffet. Food was also excellent in David's steakhouse
- Although My Time dining is pretty new to Carnival they handled it quite well. No problem getting a table for two at any time, service was prompt and efficient.
- Comedians were excellent. The use of a small venue as primarily a comedy club with multiple shows worked very well.
- Music on the ship was very good in all venues. There was even a real Caribbean band, which seems to be more rare every year.
- The Chef's Table is well worth the $75 per person cost, truly a memorable evening and meal. In addition to the outstanding gourmet meal you also have all the wine you wish, a large photo, and a Carnival cookbook
Room for Improvement:
- For a relatively high priced restaurant ($30 each plus tip), Davids has a poor atmosphere. It is designed and furnished very nicely, but it is open to the atrium and only one deck above the buffet areas, so it was quite noisy - not at all what you would expect for what should be a quiet, elegant experience
- Drink service in the dining room is almost non-existent - there were several evenings when we might have had an after-dinner drink at the table but there was no bar waiter at hand.
- For a cruise that does not dock until 10 AM on return to Baltimore, it seems silly to ask customers to leave their cabins by 8:30. We were in one of the earlier groups to disembark, but we still sat and waited for nearly 4 hours.
- Too much smoking area on this ship - allowing it on the starboard side of all three pool areas was too much. Also it was a shame that the Ivory Club was smoking - this made the piano bar unusable for us.
- The only adult area is at the back of the ship, where ALL of the lounge chairs are in the direct sunlight. It would make more sense to make one of the midship pool areas adult only.
General Notes and Tips:
- This is a good cruise to take if you don't care much about the ports and like laying about on the ship on port days. For old timers like us who no longer spend the day at the beach, neither Port Canaveral or Freeport has anything worth the bother of a long cab ride. Nassau on the other hand is always fun to do a walkabout.
- Want an uncrowded place to wait to disembark? We went up to Davids club on 11 deck. The tables at the windows have a great view and were quiet. We saw only one other couple take advantage of this. On the other hand, the other main public decks (2, 3 and 9) were jammed. No problem hearing the announcements as Davids is open to the atrium. You can ignore the early announcements that ask you to wait on 3 or 9.
- Go to the pier early - if you go later in the day you will probably be waiting in long security and check-in lines. At least if you go early you get to wait sitting down. In our case the Pride was late docking so we waited an extra hour to board, but the good news is that we were early enough to get a chair and a nice bag lunch and bottle of water. Later arrivals had to make do with a breakfast bar.
- In Nassau the Iguana Grill, just off the pier on Bay Street serves a terrific blackened grouper sandwich and good conch salad