We are in our early 50's and have cruised from three days to sixteen days from an inside to a Balcony Suite, so a Porthole cabin was a new experience for us.
Drove to Port from Reno area taking a few days to visit with folks. Hotel reviews will post to the Trip Advisor Site.
Down and Dirty -
Ship is in very good shape. Cabins are a bit rough around the edges. I would reface the cabinetry on the next dry dock. I love the size of the bathroom especially the shower on this class of ship. TV in the cabin is old and outdated - we don't go on a cruise to watch TV - but it would be great to be able to view your digital pictures on the TV when you come back to your cabin. I have been on the Paradise before so the floor plan was familiar - we just wandered around a bit until 3:30 when we went to the welcome aboard talk by Jeff. We have sailed with Jeff before, but wanted to see if there was anything new. We went to our Muster Drill and then it was up on deck for sailaway! We had late seating for dinner so we wandered about and went back to the cabin to freshen up. Around 6:30 the banging started again. Now I realize the ship must be maintained - but you would think they would give some thought to when they perform these types of things. I have no idea what they were doing - I can say this individually has no rhythym! We just tried to ignore it - but it did go on for a very long time - until we left for dinner. Who knows how long it went after that. Our room stewrd Jatmika and his assistant kept the ice bucket full and the cabin neat and tidy. Pretty darn good towel animals too!
We had a great table and great tablemates! Our Wait Staff of Ketut and Roger were pretty darn good! Food was good - nothing really wowed us - and where or where was the Lobster Bisque? I did have one meal that was sub par - Ketut told me they did not prepare it so we had to wait - but my thoughts are that is was prepared and left somewhere for a very long time under a heat lamp - chicken was dry and the noodles rubbery. I also had to ask several times about getting a pitcher of beer. I finally asked Rameesh our Maitre D on Wednesday and low and behold the bars had signage and pitchers available the last sea day.
So back to the rhythmically challenged worker banging away under our room. I lost an earring at the show on Tuesday night and when I went to check on it Wednesday morning and also reported the repeated banging. I was/am not looking for anything from this - only to make staff aware that this type of thing is not acceptable. Well we did get a plate of strawberries and cookies delivered by guest services - but the banging continued that night. I would have rather had quiet. I did get a follow up call on Thursday and told them they were still banging and please to just wait for us to go to dinner and then bang all they wanted! Guest Services apologized again and if they were banging that night - they waited for us to leave the cabin!
Food wise - I noticed that the quality is still pretty good, but that there does not seem to be as much of a variety as before. All soups were VERY runny - French Onion soup, Navy Bean and Clam Chowder used to be a bit thicker - and what happened to Lobster Bisque? I think that the Bisque is most likely only served on 7 day or longer cruises.
Activities - seemed like there was plenty to do onboard. Service was good - we have had better, but met our expectations. I was very disappointed with the Karaoke Host - I signed up to sing and was told there were 4 people ahead of me. She still had not called me up after nine songs so I left. Sadly, there were some really good folks doing some songs and some VERY BAD ones too. I would not have minded waiting - just don't lie to me. She even had one fellow decline to sing - then she let him pick out another song a few minutes later and put him up before me. Not the way things should be done in my opinion. I did not go back because of this.
Shows - Great Shows - they changed the female lead singer on Tuesday and while the gal from Monday was good - we preferred Rachel. The shows were very well done and entertaining. Welcome aboard show - we have cruised with Jeff before so as soon as he started the routine with washing the dog, we knew where it was going. It is funny how you remember stuff like that, and it was still a good time.
Ports - Catalina - Always a good time, Catalina Island is a great day trip. We wandered around town and purchased a piece of art. If you are in Catalina for a day, we recommend you stop in the Ruth Mayer Gallery, what an incredible talent. We also strolled to the Casino and back - then onto Luau Larry's so we could get our Wiki's Whacked! Great beverage..... I suggest you limit it to one.
Ensenada, I was last here three years ago on the Paradise and it has not changed all that much. The tourist buses went up in price and take you to an area that is away from Hussongs, etc. so bring yourself a map. We took a tour to the blowhole and were accosted by the folks trying to sell you items along the street. Almost as aggressive as Ocho Rios! Blowhole was not that great - I am thinking it was not the right type of swells and perhaps the tide was out too. Back to the center and then back to the ship.
Some suggestions.... Try to get a bit more organized for embarkation. Too many opportunities missed there. You need a PA system to regularly announce that guests that have not yet checked in and gotten their Sail and Sign Cards to do so by going to XXXXXX. You need clearer lines for the Zones. There were folks standing in VIP who shouldn't have been, people just kind of milling about and seemingly at a loss as to where to go. We did early check in at the Queen Mary but they were late opening up by about 15-20 minutes.
Elevators - I can't believe I just noticed this on the last day - but two dings are down and one ding is up - let the guests know this! The lighting for the up and down arrows was so bad that folks just got in and went for the ride. Also in the elevators.... Announcement should be something like Deck 10, Lido Deck not just the deck name. So many times folks would get in the Atrium elevator and say I need to go to deck 8 but the buttons only have names, not decks. That is very confusing for some.
Ship maps - Your Cabin floors should be color coded the same on the maps at the Guest Services Desk and the hand out ship maps. For example, we were on the Main deck and it was blue. On the Ships maps at Guest Services it was pink (or Salmon - whatever) - again, not really necessary - but more esthetically pleasing.
Debarkation - I don't think I will ever do Self Assist and cannot see the reasoning for the most part (OK, an early flight would be a great reason) why anyone would want to. But all the yahoos who got off before I did certainly made my exit from the ship quite smooth!
So, in closing I want to say that Carnival Cruise Lines is still in my opinion the best cruise for the buck - We had a good time, the table we sat at was good and food was OK - I think my expectations would have been greater if this had been a longer trip. The other passengers were for the most part very well mannered and we saw very little over indulgance as far as alcohol - surprising on a Spring Break trip. Would I do this trip again? Yes, but not at this time of the year - ship was crowded with many kids on board. Never again in a Porthole room - WAY too noisy for me.
Where will we go on our next cruise? No idea.... but I plan on having a good time wherever it sails to!