Not sure what to expect from Carnival. This was my first cruise with them and I'd heard mixed reviews from people I know that have cruised with them. The first impression was not good. Embarkation was awful. There were people everywhere. People from the previous cruise were very slow to get off the ship. We heard different stories as to why it was this way. Not sure what the real deal was or if it is always this way. Whatever, if I left from this port again I would make sure to arrive later. It was total chaos. I was hoping the cruise would improve but was skeptical at this point.
Once we finally got on board we could not go to our rooms yet which was expected. We got some lunch and took a quick tour of the ship. We also had to try the drink they were selling. It was good and priced about the same as other cruises I'd been on. When we got to the room we checked it out and unloaded our carry on stuff. Then we went back to the deck area to hang out.
Muster drill wasn't bad. I liked not having to tote the life vest with us. The drill actually went fairly fast. I've been to much worse before. It was chilly that day so at least we weren't sweating while bunched up together. Sail away wasn't that big of deal. Not the party I was expecting. We had early dinner so off we went.
Dinner on the ship was excellent. The food was great! Our waiters were wonderful and were a couple of the best of any cruise I've been on. I'd also rank Carnival's dinners as some of the best.
After dinner we were off to see some of the shows and lounges. Enough has been said about the decor. It's garish but I don't go on cruises to evaluate the decor so it wasn't a problem for me.
The closer we got to Mexico the warmer the weather. We spent the 2 'at sea' days at the adult pool but it was kind of chilly in the morning. It warmed up in the afternoon. I appreciated the fact that there was no smoking in the pool areas. You could go up a flight of steps and smoke away. I was worried that there would be a lot of smoking areas but it was actually the other way around. There were not that many designated areas that I saw.
We booked all of our excursion through the ship. I'll review those later if I have the time. None were terrible.
As bad as embarkation was debarkation was good. Very organized and relaxed. Finding our luggage was a breeze. I've never found my suitcases so fast before.
We used Carnival's transfers from and to the airport. They were your basic transportation on a bus. Nothing great but not bad either. It got us where we needed to be safely so I guess that's all you can ask for.
Based on other cruises I've taken, I was pleasantly surprised by Carnival. I didn't know what to expect and it's always good for things to be better than you expect. Would I cruise Carnival again? You betcha. If it were the same price as a Royal Caribbean cruise going to the same place I'd probably go with RCCL but if the savings was substantial I'd have no problem at all booking with Carnival.
We had one of the best room stewards ever on this cruise. We had 2 of the best waiters ever on this cruise. All the employees I came in contact with were pleasant and seemed happy. The customer service on the ship was very, very good. The dinners were really good. Lunch in the buffet area was just so so. The specialty areas like the panini, not sure how to spell it, area and grill area were much better.