I wanted to say I am a first time cruiser going with someone who has been on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, we did not have kids with us and I have traveled to many of the port locations prior to this cruise. I will try to break it down into paragraphs to help better relay my experience!
Embarkation: We flew down the day before embarkation and used texasairportcar.com/Duane Johnson for transportation from Houston Hobby to Galveston. Excellent car service, fair price, on time and very helpful! We stayed at the Harbour House next to the cruise terminal. Clean, well kept hotel, decent price and a great location next to cruise terminal. We walked to the terminal from Harbour House, approximately 1/2 mile walk to the terminal. Allowed a porter to take our bags at the cruise terminal entrance. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:15 CDT. We got into a line to go through the metal detector/security check for carry on bags and people. The total wait in line and clearing security was about 30 minutes. We were directed to the Carnival Cruise check in agent to check our passports and register payment devices. We were done and ready to board the ship by 12:15 CDT. We got our welcome aboard pics and finished the check in process and was on board by 12:30CDT. I was impressed with the check in procedure. They check in allot of people in a short amount of time!
Room Assignment: We booked the cheapest rate and were assigned a class 4A room. The room was 7234. The room was small but clean and ready by 2:30CDT. The room was showing some age as the wear and tear was evident around the doors and sink in the bathroom. I found out very quickly, the fist night, that there is a big problem with the panels that make up the wall in the room incessantly rattling, LOUD RATTLING. When I was investigating how to fix the problem I noticed it must have been an ongoing problem as there was several wads of paper shoved between the panels and trim around the top of the room! I just added a few more which helped but didn't completely fix it, ever and was very frustrating! The room steward did an excellent job keeping the room clean, well stocked and always an interesting "towel animal" on the bed each night.
Dinning: The most disappointing part of the whole experience. The buffet line was by far the worst food I have experienced in my life! The food was never hot or even warm by my standards. In fact, I was concerned that it may have been even dangerous as food such as chicken was not kept warm enough to stop food borne illnesses from occurring! I overheard on numerous occasions people having the same opinion! The food stations that were serving fried foods and deli sandwiches were OK, at least the food was hot but about the same quality as you would find at any Six Flags, etc. We had early seating in the Renoir Dining Room. The menu was diverse and changed regularly. The food tasted OK, but again was never more than warm and even cold at times. The head waiter was attentive but his wait team was poor. It seemed to me that his team was new and was trying to learn the "ropes". The "entertainment" performances by the wait staff was absolutely ridiculous. They attempted to do prearranged dances to songs like "apple bottom jeans" by Nelly and it was just a disaster! Please Carnival don't continue this, its really degrading for everyone involved!
Entertainment: The new "Le Paris" show is entertaining and was much needed as I was told the same shows had been running on this ship for three years. The show "Point and Click" was outdated and needs to be replaced. They had a show featuring a professional juggler. The worst show by far I have ever seem anywhere! He was a very talented juggler but did very little juggling?! He did some comedy, introduced the band members one by one which they had already done on several occasions throughout the cruise, and about 10 minutes of juggling during a 40 minute show????!!!! The guest involved shows like the marriage game and battle of the sexes was cute and entertaining. The cruise was ended with a show called "Carnival Legends" which was a hand picked show of guests who had performed during various karaoke shows during the week. This was the most painful show experience I have ever sat through and have no idea why Carnival chooses to end the cruise shows with this?! The bands and singers throughout the ship were interesting. The bands in the different lounges were OK but a group of band mates from the Philippines is not not my thing. Some of the popular songs sung by these bands were really not meant to be sung by these artists?!
Overall impressions..... I wasn't impressed at any time and got really tired of them wanting to sell you something or charge you extra for something I should have a choice about! I met a really disgruntled employee, and he was not holding back about the treatment of employees by ship department managers and too many complaints from other cruisers on the ship about everything from not having hot water in their rooms and having to go to another room to shower too poor food and service overall. So what do I think, well you don't pay much so don't expect much or so I have been told?!