KIDS CLUB: In Kids Club, it was constantly noisy: I was told the music had only "1 volume", there was no quiet area at any time, even after 10pm when the 2 yr olds, 5 yr olds wanted to and should have been able to sleep or at least lie somewhere quiet with a story. They were not permitted to bring their own (healthy) food in and when food was offered, it was burgers, hot dogs, pizza and sweets. The Club was closed for several hours in the middle of the day (ie mid-day, the only time when I as a single parent could get some "sun time" as my daughter doesn't like the sun). They had extra fees not disclosed in the brochure: for example, they say the Club is "open", but only if you put the kid in an activity for which there is a $20 fee (ie bear making). There was no mixing of the kids or toys, so the toys my 6-yr old daughter saw the first night on the open house, which we thought she would be able to play with, were off limits as they were on the "2-5" side. There was no outside time and very little "free" or creative time; the rest of it was mandated games with no options like videos and video games for several hours of the day. Part of the supposed "Freedom" of a cruise is supposed to be that you can eat when you want. This is not allowed, as the Kids Club closes for lunch, and it doesn't matter when you or your kid would like to eat, it has to be when they say. They had weird hours, like the only fitness class was at 8am, and the Club didn't open til 10.
NOISE: the whole ship was noisy, 24/7. The band by the pool was so loud I had to wear earplugs if I wanted to lie by the pool. I couldn't hear any announcements, even if I wanted to. Music in the dining rooms, halls, restaurants, decks, everywhere, all the time. I made the mistake of booking a stateroom by the elevators, and got noisy partiers running down the halls until 4am. I put up a notice asking people to be considerate of my daughter after 11pm, and it was moved down the hall. I had to call security for teenagers camped outside my door at 1am (security never showed, I chased them away).
SMOKE: I had heard it was bad, and it was. The only good band only played in smoking locations, so it was listen and smell or not listen. The cigar lounge was right outside our dining room, with not even a door between, and I had to bring my daughter thru the cigar lounge to get to the Internet. All the singles areas, trivia areas, and areas you had to walk to get from one end of the ship to the other, were smoking. The smoke from the balconies nearby meant I only used mine for 5 mins the whole 7 days.
OTHER: only one dance class the whole cruise, the fish I had at Rosie's fish and chips was undercooked, and staff seemed too afraid to take a minute to chat, always looking over their shoulder and wiping a table to make sure it looked like they were working. Constant stream of wasteful flyers and announcements to buy more art, more booze, more gold-by-the-inch, extra fees for everything (ie $3.95 and $.75/min for slow internet, $15 for a photograph, etc).
Here's the kicker: I sent a detailed letter to Carnival's Guest Care Dept. They offered nada - nothing - not a cent in refund, no future ship credit, didn't even offer to pay for the head lice shampoo.
I will go happily back to Royal Caribbean and tell everyone I know to do the same.