This vacation was my 18th cruise (9th with Carnival) and my boyfriends 1st. I am 29 and my boyfriend is 38. We did not cruise with any children. We live in West Palm Beach so we had his brother drop us off at the port. We arrived there around 11am on Sunday May 1st. As soon as we arrived the porters took our luggage (and requested a tip) and we were on our way to check in. Everything went pretty smooth checking in but they did not allow anyone on the ship until 1:15 or so. They had us all waiting in the port until our number was called. Supposedly there was a guest incident from the previous weeks cruise that was holding us up. By time they let us on it everyone was in such a rush. They didn't even take our embarkation picture. Carnival just wanted to get everyone on as quickly as possible.
As soon as we were on we went right up to the Lido deck where they were serving lunch. It was a buffet with salads, lunch-meat, a few main dishes, and a carving station with roast beef. They also had a fish & chips bar, burrito bar, and pizza. Carnival seems to have less and less selections of food every time I go and the quality was very poor. We attended the sail away party with the standard "sail away music" (electric slide, cha cha slide, cupid shuffle, YMCA) We found a great bartender right away who we made sure to tip in the beginning so he took wonderful care of us the whole cruise. We never had to wait for a drink and he always knew what we wanted.
This was my boyfriends 1st cruise for his birthday so I had the room decorated for him and he loved it. The room was very nice, the balcony and views were beautiful. The only complaints I have were the beds are SO hard and uncomfortable and the room was very noisy. It was near the elevators so all night you heard the bell from them. Also the galley room was across from the room so there was always the sounds of plates and knives clinking.
We selected Any Time Dining and that worked out wonderfully. We never had to worry about making dinner times, we just ate when we wanted to. We ate in the dining room every night except for the last night when we went to Scarlett's Steak House. Overall I was VERY disappointed in the food. The selections were minimal, the food was overcooked, and served warm at best. Scarlett's was definitely better but in my opinion was not worth the $60 dollar plus tip for it.
They are really promoting the comedy shows on board having a few almost every night. We went to a couple of the adult ones and they were just OK. The entertainment in the theatre was not good either. I had been on the Valor before in 2006 and they had the same shows as 5 years ago. Very disappointing.
We went to the casino for a bit everyday and that was nice. They have the "virtual blackjack tables now with $3 dollar minimums but I never did well on them. I rather spend the extra $2 dollars a hand to play blackjack with a person.
The piano bar was nice but the player was not very good. He didn't do a good job of keeping the audience involved.
We went to the nightclub once. It was OK, they played the top 40.
Overall, I was very disappointed with Carnival. I love to cruise and it just seemed they are cutting corners anyway they can. From now on I will be back to Royal Caribbean or Norwegian.