I read reviews before my husband & I left,so I had higher expectations. Everythings relative I guess. The killer of cruise reviews are comparisons.
There were people on this,their first cruise,so they were thrilled because they had nothing to compare it to. There were others who were from the frozen north tundra and were thrilled just to be warm. Those two groups had smiles frozen on their faces that you couldn't wipe off for anything. The rest of us,not so much.
We had the smallest suite available,which was really VERY nice. It gave us automatic VIP embarkation,which did breeze us through. Cabin Steward immediately introduced himself and did a great job! Our room was cleaned 3x a day and was always perfect.
All staff was remarkable,especially Marabel & Gabriel in the Chic dining room. They were the ONLY reasons we showed up there.The food was adequate,at best. The Chateaubriand,the last night, was great,but that's it. Plus,I always felt like I was sitting on the persons lap next to me. The tables for two were SO CLOSE, you might as well be sitting at the same table. VERY UNCOMFORTABLE!!! I absolutely hated being in the dining room. We had anytime dining and never minded getting a pager to wait for a table with the above named staff.As anytime diners,we weren't allowed in the second floor dining area,where the dining was quieter,nicer seating. Really felt like second class citizens. Not allowed upstairs!!!!!!Absolutely ridiculous!!!!
Had one night in the Steakhouse, which was REMARKABLE!!. It was the only night I felt like I was cruising back in the day-wonderful food and no personal space infringement. Wish we could have afforded to eat there every night. $30 a person isn't expensive, unless you do it every night.
Couldn't spend too much time in the casino due to the amount of smoke.
Sushi bar was very nice as well as the cafe' next to it. Sushi-free,specialty coffee & cakes,not.
The comedians were terrific, but they only have one show that they keep repeating. Comedians can't write more than one show?????
Unless you're a dancer,there really isn't a whole lot to do.
I resented having to walk the gauntlet of photographers, always asking to take pictures.They were nice,but I didn't like having to CONSTANTLY say no thank-you!
There's CONSTANT merchandising,always trying to get you to buy anything & everything. Even at the towel animal demonstration,the first thing they did was put a placard on stage with a list of items you can buy.
Saw barefoot people in the dining room & no one asked them to go put some shoes on.
People were waking at the crack of dawn to "save" loungers,ALL OVER the ship. Good luck finding a place to sit anywhere,including the adult area. If the ship isn't going to enforce the don't save rule,or shoes in the dining room,then don't have rules.
Ship layout was confusing and frustrating and stressful. I saw the video in the room where the designer explained his reasons for the ship decoration. So I understand what he did, I just don't agree. The ship decor is Art Deco on steroids.It's awful, not peaceful or playful. I felt the need to always get away from the public spaces, as it was not enjoyable to be around.
Excursions were wonderful.We took this trip for the itinerary & it didn't disappoint.
De-barkation was a breeze.
After dealing with the ship layout,decor and food, I don't trust Carnival anymore, so I seriously doubt I will use this company again.
One more thing. We were on the cruise that started out by picking up a Cuban refugee on a little rubber raft.
The crew was absolutely professional,with the pick up going fairly smoothly,giving me the feeling they've done this before. Then a turnaround because the Coast Guard out of Key West wanted him because they(The CG) felt the Cozumel authorities might give the Captain a hard time,which would trickle down to us in all sorts of ways,so they offered to pick him up. The Captain was still able to get us to Cozumel on schedule.
I saw a totally professional crew at work & felt proud to be on their ship. If only the ship wasn't so ugly,designed so poorly and food so poor quality. Best crew ever!!!
Our second stop-Costa Rica- We booked the Adventure Canal & Banana Plantation through Carnival.
It was VERY low key,no frenzy,very relaxing.
When you arrive,there's a table full of fresh cut fruit and a local musicians playing. Very nice.
You take a low,narrow boat through a canal, on the edge of the jungle. It's just enough to get an idea of some of the wildlife that lives there.
We saw monkeys,heard Howler Monkeys in the distance,large iguansa,lots of sloths,a crocodile and tons of beautiful birds.
Our guide was absolutely terrific,as he was making you feel as if he was sharing his country with you,not just taking you on a tour.
The Banana Plantation was a quick side trip and interesting.
Upon returning,there was enough time to go through the souvenier area that was set up next to the ship. Prices were actually not too bad there.
Our third stop-Panama Canal- Booked through Carnival.
Had Robert as our guide and he was super,wonderful. You hop a bus right off the ship & then it's about an hour to the dock to get on the ferry that goes through the locks.That's if the traffic is not too bad!
Keep an eye out for the beautifully painted school buses that are used for public transport.
It's just a short ride to the locks and it was amazing. You go up 27ft., then another 27ft., then another set of locks that raises you 30ft. You never feel it happening.
A big Kodak moment is when you tie up to the wall of the first lock. Everyone wants a picture of themselves touching those old Canal walls!
If you read up a little on the construction of the Canal before you leave,you'll have a better understanding & appreciation of what you're seeing. It'll help. Really.
We returned to the ship an hour late,with MANY passengers,on their balconies & deck 3, clapping as we got off the bus,as they were waiting for us to leave! But I learned later that this happens alot because it really is a long, all day trip. But going from one ocean to another is a once in a lifetime experience. It's why we took this cruise. For the itineraries. They were all terrific.