We got caught in a terrible jam on the Henry Hudson Parkway and arrived at the NY Terminal a bit later than planned. Signage for dropping off luggage was a bit confusing, but we got the luggage dropped and headed to park the car. A problem was that the entrance to the lot was now behind us and we had to loop out to the West Side Highway and re-enter the Terminal to get to the lot. Poor set up there. We got into the lot ($120 for four days) and got a spot. We walked into the terminal about 1 PM and got thru the check in fairly quiclkly. We boarded without any problem and were on board before 1:30.
Our Cabin was on Deck 6 Aft. The steward was great and the room was good. It was showing some wear but it was very clean. The only complaint we had was that the aft hallway had a bad odor. No smell in the room but in the hall it was nasty. We noticed they were changing out some carpet in at least one room during the cruise so they must have smelled it too.
The dining was a great disapointment. To start with we had requested a table for two. This was our 20th anniversary and our first vacation without kids in 20 years. We are not anti-social but were hoping for some alone time. We got a table for 12. Spoke to the Maitre'd to no avail. That alone wouldn't have led to a poor review of the dining, it was just a bad start. The food in the main dining room was not what we would expect on a cruise, I would rate it poor at best. We tried different things but we found the southern fried chicken, prime rib, honey chicken, and veal parm all lacking. Ceasar salad was served warm. Ice tea was slow to come and went empty for long periods. Waited 5 minutes for sour cream for a baked potato after the entre was served. Getting a drink from the bar service was glacial. We watched the staff struggle to meet needs and came to the conclusion that Carnival is understaffed. Our waiter had several larger tables with only two assistants. They were hustling but were fighting a losing battle. I felt sorry for them. Pretty clear that staffing is where Carnival has cut to allow so many cheaper cruises.
We went to the upcharge Steakhouse one night for dinner. It was a gem. Great food and incredible service. It cost extra but was well worth it!
The lunch and breakfast buffets left much to be desired. Especially at lunch, the food was poor at best and the service slow to non-existent. Two days in a row there were no trays at the head of the line. Hard to juggle silverware, plate and cereal bowl with no tray. It brought the line to a crawl. Luckily for lunch, we discovered the Deli which was right around the corner. Delicious sandwiches made to order and service was quick!! Highly recommend the deli. Avoid the buffet.
Tried to have lunch in the main dining room one day but the line for a table was out the door and to the elevator. We could see empty tables but there wasn't enough staff to use all of the tables. The line didn't move for over 10 minutes so we bailed. Tried again another day and we got there about 12:30 and got right in. The food and service were very good. As we left at about 1:15 we saw the same unmoving line we had been in on the previous day. Nighttime food was good. The burger station was very good and the 24 hour pizza was actually pretty good. One night the guy working the pizza didn't have a clue and the line backed up even though he had a bunch of pizzas made. Just one guy working there and he was overwhelmed. More staffing issues.
Entertainment, Casino and Activities
There was plenty to do. Must admit we were not going crazy on the activities. We did play trivia a couple of times and had fun. Bingo was another story. How much money does Carnival need to make on Bingo? The last night they had what they called $5000-$3000-$1000 Bingo. We figured someone would win 5K. Not likely. To win $5000 you had to hit cover all Bingo on the power ball number and under 50 calls. Odds against this are gigantic. $3000 was Bingo under 50 calls or on the power ball number. Both very unlikely. So really it was $1000 Bingo. Over 700 people playing at $20 per head meant over $14000 came in and only $1000 out. Seems like my previous cruises on RC had better paying Bingo. My wife liked the casino. Good assortment of slots. Didn't win but she had fun. I spent a lot of time in the Casino Bar. It had a golf theme. They had ESPN on the multiple TVs and that was all. No MLB package or anything else. The service was very good and very friendly.
The shows in the Amber Palace were not very good. The opening night show was really just a commercial. In over an hour there, all we got was one dance number and a few minutes each from two comics. The rest of the time was the cruise director trying to sell excursions. Everyone at our table was complaining about the show. On the last night we actually left the show before it was over. The comedy shows were very good. The lounge was packed both nights. Really enjoyed the comedy!
St John is a very old city. We didn't do an excursion but folks at our table that did said the Bay of Fundy was interesting and worth the trip. We just strolled thru the shops and bought a few tourist type items. The people in St John were very friendly.
We had read previous reviews that were very critical. We found it organized and pretty easy. Our zone was called at 8:30 and by 8:58 we had left the ship, collected our luggage, cleared customs and were pulling out of the parking lot and heading for home. Can't beat that.
We had a good time on the cruise, but noticed a lot more lacking than ever before. Most of this was probably caused by staffing levels. I had to tell myself that "you get what you pay for" more than once. I would think twice before booking Carnival again. The extra money for a different line might be worth it.