This was my first cruise and perhaps I had been led by others to think it was going to be the time of my life. It wasn't. However, let me be fair to Carnival.... there were a lot of people on the ship that did seem to be enjoying themselves a lot.
The food was just okay in my opinion. If I take another cruise, I will do all I can to find out where the chef is from. Ours was from Jamaica and perhaps the food had a Jamaican flair to it that I did not care for. One item I was looking forward to was Eggs Benedict and I ordered them the first morning of the cruise. They were tart and dry. I never asked for them again. As for the rest of the cruise, the portions were small and it seemed more emphasis was placed on presentation than taste. The buffet food was okay and you could get all you wanted but the quality of the food was nothing more than I would expect to get at some national all-you-can-eat restaurant chain. One evening in the buffet I got some sweet and sour shrimp. Someone told me they had that item in the dining room earlier and I wondered if the buffet line was how they off-loaded the leftovers. The best thing I ate on my vacation was scallops that I ordered at Bahama Breeze the night before we boarded. The quality of food on the ship was a disappointment to me.
One other note...Hey Carnival! I liked the strawberry yogurt. Why did you ration it? You had chocolate and vanilla every night but not strawberry. What's up with that?
The dining room waiters were super! They learned my name on the first night which really impressed me. They also seem to learn some of the things I liked but they did not really come back to make sure I liked what I ordered. If one person at my table said the food was good, they seemed to assume I felt the same way. One night I asked for a souffle for dessert. I didn't like it but was not offered any other choice. Still, I'd rate the waiters high.
The room we had was on the 11th deck level and had a balcony which I spent extra to get. The room was tight and the balcony was practically useless but my wife said she still enjoyed it. They put two chairs and a table out there that made it almost impossible to move around. The balcony overlooked a deck below us and so privacy was limited. Several times while we were out there, people walked by and looked up at us. Next time I cruise and spend the money for a balcony, I'll put more time into finding out first what I'm paying for. The bed was comfortable and the room lighting was nice. There was plenty of drawer and closet space. The restroom was not so nice. Every time I went in there, I could smell a chemical oder. But it was kept clean by the staff. The staff was always behind the scenes. They were friendly but we never got to know them as I hoped. Still they did their work well.
One thing I did not like was a steady pulsation that I could feel all over the ship especially when it was going at a higher speed. I especially felt it when I was laying in the bed for some reason. I took a behind the scenes tour and asked the chief engineer about it. He did not seem to know what I was talking about. I suggest the chief get out of his little office and walk about the ship, especially when the Captain has it going at a higher speed. You don't feel the pounding at lower speeds. The pulsation is distinct and obvious and objectionable to this paying passenger. I could spend my money at a resort hotel and not have to put up with a beating engine or out of sync propeller. The solution may be noting more than adjusting the pitch of one of the propellers or the rpm of a shaft by a value of one or so but that is what a chief engineer should be doing. Maybe the Captain and Engineer are use to the steady beating of the engine but I am not and I didn't like it. Hey Carnival... if you want me to come back, ask your chief to take a walk up to the 11th deck or even the back of the ship and check things out for himself. Talk to the passengers and don't dismiss them especially when they have a choice of a Las Vegas based hotel or your cruise ship. I know the ship is a huge machine but you pay the chief a lot of money to give the passengers a safe and smooth ride. Right? The ride was safe but it was not smooth.
The shows were very good and we enjoyed them. The staff was excellent and did their jobs quickly if you ordered a drink. The performers did a great job as did the band, the sound engineer and the lighting tech. I can't say enough about the cruise director. She was full of energy and very friendly. The comedians were funny but when they say "R" rated, they mean it. It is what it is.
The ship's gym was outstanding. They had all the equipment there you could want for a good workout as well as a great locker room. I would only suggest that they open the gym at 5 am instead of 6 but that might just be me. I started my workouts at 6 and by the time I finished, the gym was full. Opening at 5 would allow the early risers like me to get in a full workout before breakfast.
The excursions were okay but rush, rush, rush. It took a long time to get off at the Cayman Islands. Te next cruise I take I will try to find out if we off-load the passengers on tenders or a pier. The pier off-loading is much quicker.
Now that brings up my biggest complaint about the cruise and that's long lines and crowding. You struggle to find a place to sit by the pool or a show. You have to get to a place early just to get a seat. You hurry to get to the gym to get a cardio machine. You hurry to get to your excursion just to get off the ship. If I didn't mind crowds and long lines, I'd spend my vacation money at an amusement park. The ships pool was very small and don't think you will be swimming in it. Instead you will be standing only. I know it's kept clean because I watch the crew working on it one morning but still... that many sweating people standing in a small body of water? It was not something I had any desire to get in. Carnival Inspiration had a water slide and the line to get on it was ridiculous. In any water park, that slide would have been lame but people lined up for the short and slow ride through an enclosed pipe you could not see out of and for what? The "water park" of the ship would be great for kids if the adults would just get out of their way but as it was, more long lines. If you want a water park, go to Orlando.
My favorite time of the day was 5:30 am. I had the ship to myself as I made my way back to get some coffee. The coffee was good and the decks quiet except for a little music playing at low volume. The air was cool. It was a peaceful and quiet time.
I know people love to take a cruise. They go on and on about it but I'm looking at the total amount of money I spent and I'm thinking I could have spent it for a more enjoyable time with less crowds at a resort hotel somewhere and got better food and a bed without a out-of-balanced engine beat going through it. I will probably take another cruise one day but I'll spend more time selecting it if I do. It may be Carnival or it may be someone else. I know more of what to look for now. Carnival did not earn my loyalty on this cruise.