I cruised as a solo for some needed R&R on the sea, and I got that. I'd never sailed on Carnival but chose this cruise, because I could drive to Charleston. I went wondering what I'd experience because of Carnival's reputation as a party cruise line.
Embarkation was quick, and I was on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving at the terminal at about 11:45 a.m. However, no crew member told me where I might find lunch. I headed to the Lido deck to the buffet but ate at an outdoor grill instead. Food there was mediocre.
Cabin was ready by 1:30. I had a port hole cabin which was just fine - spartan but about what I expected. It was comfortable. I was happy.
Mediocre at best on many counts. First, when my luggage hadn't been delivered by 6:00 p.m., I called and then went to Guest Services. I was told that luggage was often delivered that late. I said I'd never had this happen on other lines and was curtly told it did on Carnival.
Next, I'd ordered a bottle of wine and purchased drink vouchers prior to boarding. The wine was in my cabin but no drink vouchers. Back to Guest Relations who sent me on a wild goose chase. Finally got vouchers at dinner. Seemed I had to sign for them. I'd bought enough to pay for drinks all five days but spent money for sailaway since no drink card.
Met cabin steward only twice, and both of those times I had to find him. He did his job, but that was all. And, to my dismay he left a dirty glass on a table for two days, and he didn't replace Kleenex when box ran out.
Dining staff were fine but nothing more.
All five days I felt many of the crew were just doing a job and not much else - not incompetent but not going out of their way to make passengers comfortable or welcome. This was true at all levels of service.
Dining Venues and Food
I tried the Windows on the Sea Buffet for breakfast one day. Bagel was hard as a rock. Coffee tolerable. OJ tasted like it came out of a can. Room service breakfast wasn't much better. Celebration Dining Room breakfasts a bit better, but Eggs Benedict overcooked.
Windows on the Sea buffet had limited options. I never tried the hot foot but chose the salad bar which was only ordinary salad bar fare,
Celebrations Dining Room food was decent. Maine lobster tail was good. Cold soups were good. Steak just so-so, a bit overcooked for me and a bit tough. No creativity about presentation.
Dining Room had very limited hours for breakfast and lunch - not at all open for as long as I've found to be the case on other cruise lines. Not a plus for me.
Very disappointed in way people were allowed to dress in dining room each night. Slouchy shorts and blue jeans plus t-shirts with logos, etc. were common. I like informality but do like to see women in pants or dress or skirt and men in pants with polo shirt at the least. I don't want to feel like I'm in a fast food place.
The shining light was the Shore Excursions staff, especially Sophie. She was friendly and helpful and remembered who I was and was very apologetic when my shore excursion was cancelled in Nassau. I wished she'd let me know prior to the time for the excursion, but that was a minor detail, because she was all I'd expect someone in her position to be.
Entertainment and Activities
I was part of one production show. It was okay. I'm not a big fan of cruise shows, so I really can't say much more. And I don't participate in activities like dance classes, etc.
This was a nightmare. We were given numbers and told to wait until our number was called. That was fine. However, the numbers were called in groups rather than one by one. From the time my number was called until I cleared customs, I'd been in line 1 hour! Unreasonable amount of time and unnecessary had we just been held in comfort in the lounge on the ship.
Carnival has a reputation as a party cruise line, and there really were many young adults, and they were having a lot of fun. There were few older people like me, but that was okay as I like to be with all age groups. I did like the informal atmosphere overall. And, I found places to be quiet, have a drink, get some sun, read my book, chill out and do all of that on the sea. In the end that's the most important part of cruising for me.
However, I think I'll probably go back to Royal Caribbean or Celebrity the next time.