Having sailed exclusively with Princess, we had no knowledge of what to expect with Carnival. Having some familiarity with New Orleans, our expectations about the port were minimal to begin with. The line a quarter mile long in 90 degree weather at the port was no surprise.
Having endured the embarkation process, we then had to deal with a cabin lacking cooled air. The room was stifling. But foul odors similar to that of a sewage treatment facility were pouring out of the ceiling vent. (Be aware: the rooms do not have thermostats! Air is divided throughout the ship in four zones. One zone may be cooler than another. You control the air flow in the room by opening or closing the vent in the ceiling. Whatever the temperature is of the air coming through the vent is what you get.)
We were moved to another room, this one directly above the bandstand in the casino. The noise from the bandstand in the afternoon and evening was akin to sleeping on the bandstand itself. But they did furnish us earplugs! When's the last time your stateroom came with earplugs??
And why would you have a bandstand in a casino?
Thanks to Hurricane Irene, Carnival decided to divert from the Bahamas and travel to two alternate destinations: Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.
Cozumel is Cozumel. The cruise ship industry has ruined the island and while one would think the tax revenues from the increased sales would somehow translate into improved civil works on the island it's just the reverse. Evidently the profits being realized by the increased tourism is finding its way into other pockets; they're certainly not helping the citizenry in any way.
But Progreso, Mexico is a virtual military or militia zone. Members of our group took a jeep tour to Medira and had to pass through 8 militia check points. The 4-hour tour became 6 hours. Other members of our group went to the beach. Vendors actually chased them into the ocean trying to sell them hammocks!!
The "shopping center" in Progreso is nothing more than an open, tent covered flea market on a gravel parking lot. And the flea market is enclosed in masonry block walled compound with broken glass atop the walls to slow down thieves.
How anyone could think Progreso is an alternative to any stop in the Bahamas is beyond us.
The help staff in the buffet restaurant is nothing more than bus boys. They only clear tables. They do not offer to get coffee or other beverages. And the soft drink islands in the buffet restaurant are usually in some state of disrepair. You have to circulate through numerous lines to put together a meal and by the time you've navigated all of the lines, your food is either cold or warm as the case may be.
If you decide to have breakfast in the dining rooms, you'll enjoy it if you only want one glass of orange juice. Evidently it's a commodity.
If you enjoy dancing in smoke filled spaces, you'll thoroughly enjoy the Hollywood Disco Dance hall.
The best part of the cruise was the self-assist debarkation. We couldn't wait to get off that ship and when the gang plank opened at 7 a.m. we were among the first passengers to go screaming off of the cruise from hell.
We've been on our first and last Carnival cruise: all on the same voyage!