We had previously cruised Europe on Celebrity and there was no comparison. I decided to try Carnival for the ports and the fact it was a new ship. The ship was fine- large with plenty of lounges- but it lacked the ambiance of other cruises I have been on, the service at some places, and the food was poor.
Embarkation was very easy at 11 AM and we were on the ship within 10 minutes after arriving at the port. We immediately headed to the buffet for lunch which was not yet crowded. At 1:30 PM our cabin was ready and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We had a balcony room (I guess a mini-suite but not called that) which was fine although it did seem smaller than on other cruises. Our room was always clean but this is the first cruise that the room steward did not come and introduce himself. We never saw him except an occasional wave in the hall.
Our main complaints were the rudeness of some of the staff plus the lack of knowledge of the ports. The shore excursion desk was not at all helpful. We were given the wrong information on several times. I do not think they cared about answering questions about the port unless you took their excursions. With the exception of Naples where we took the ferry ourselves to Capri, all of our excursions were booked through the ship. On our first night, we received word after 8 PM that our tour the next day in Monaco was canceled due to not enough people signed up. By then the desk was closed and all tours were filled. If there were on 6 signed up for a tour for 40, they should have contacted us early in the day to say there was a possibility the tour would be canceled and what was our second choice. Then when I did speak to someone the next morning, he led me to believe there would be tours you could take at the port. Other than the 30 minute train ride around Monaco, there were none. Luckily, I guess they had a lot of complaints so they added a bus and made an afternoon tour to the French. They misled us about the shuttle services to town in other ports also. The time was not properly utilized on excursions- we were given 45 minutes in places that had nothing and yet less time in places with a lot of shops and cafes.
The staff in the perfume shop were very unfriendly and rude. I saw that a sample of perfume I wanted to try was empty and asked if they had another tester.
I was rudely told "not until the next cruise."
The staff in the casino was also rude. We asked one attendant how to cash out a few dollars we had won and she acted like she was doing us a favor by showing us and was fresh. The same with the man in the cashier cage.
The hours for currency exchange was also limited if you had an excursion booked or dining plans.
However, our dining staff in the main dining room were great. Our waiter, Caesar, was wonderful as well as Made and Suraj. We thoroughly enjoyed their attentiveness and service.
The comedians were great! I was not impressed at all with any other show.
TV in the room just featured showing the cruise director and news. We were not on the cruise to watch tv but when we were getting dressed or relaxing, it would have been nice to have a choice.
The food was nothing special - with the exception of a few entrees or desserts in the main dining room. The breakfast buffet was very poor- everything was not presented in a convenient location (pancakes, waffles, and french toast were only by the pool) and the selection was poor. There were no nice fruits like strawberries, pineapples, sliced oranges - only cantaloupe and water melon everyday. It never changed. Most items were cold. The deli was very good as well as the grill by the pool- the pizza didn't compare to that on Princess. Room service was very limited for breakfast if you had an early excursion.
I just felt Carnival lacks something major. I doubt if I would cruise it again.