We finished a cruise on October 26 and flew on Ryan Air from Rome to Barcelona.
We had a wonderful time in Barcelona. What a magnificent city! It was far more than we expected, and we want to go back and spend time. One full day of touring was not enough by a long shot. Our cab driver to the ship was from Colombia and was very talkative. We enjoyed the drive.
Embarkation involved a long line, but was a breeze and rates a grade of A. Luggage was delivered in a reasonable period of time.
The ship decor was toned down compared with some other Carnival Ship. Slight echos of the MGM Grand in Vegas, but mostly quite pleasant, imho.
Room: We booked a balcony guarantee and were given the farthest forward balcony cabin on the port side, deck 6. It was a handicap room, so it was spacious. Neither of us are in need of such a room. The only seat in the room was a stool at the vanity/desk. The flat screen TV was oriented to be watched from a wheelchair, not so much from the bed. On our previous cruise out of Rome on Mariner of the Seas our balcony room had twice the storage and closet space compared with our Magic room, but the Magic space was adequate for our needs. The bathroom shower area had a fold up seat. This seat was dripping a bright red substance onto the tiled floor when we first entered. It looked like blood. It was not. It was rust. This rust continued erupting from the chair for three days, but it gradually turned more rusty and less bloody in appearance. On the third day the other side of the chair began leaking a black tar substance. The repair staff worked hard to solve the problem. Finally, filling the metal tubing with silicon chalk ended the eruptions, at least for the rest of our cruise. This reduced the room cleaning workload, since the continual staining on the tile floor ended. I now think I have a better handle on what happens when church statues drip a blood-like substance, but the tar is still a mystery to me. The shower drainage design failed. Taking a shower while the ship was moving resulted in a stream of water flowing under the door into the room carpet. The solution from our ship staff was for us to put towels under the door. This stopped most of the flow, but the carpet still got wet. Since we were on a transatlantic cruise, the ship was usually moving. Except for a small wire shelf in the shower, the bathroom contained only a very small area on the sink to put anything. The kleenex box was perched on a towel rack. About ten days into the cruise our room door would not open. We had a hard time convincing the guest services person that reprogramming our sea pass would not solve the problem. We would not hand over our cards. She pouted a little but agreed to send someone to fix the door. We had to wait about a half hour, but he did come and got the door latch working. He said the whole mechanism needed to be replaced and that was done the next morning. For a six month old ship, I thought a lot was going wrong. On deck six (and only on deck six), the port and starboard forward balconies have sweptback partitions that allow not just a side view, but a panoramic forward view. That is nice, but it means that the people on the adjacent forward public deck can look into the balcony and into the room. Also the ocean view rooms at the front must tightly draw their curtains, if they want privacy. However. almost all of the balcony rooms have an extra partition above the railing that provide a higher level of privacy than it found on many ships. From our balcony, I saw lots of flying fish. In Galveston Harbor we saw dolphins.
Public areas: Most of the public areas on the ship are wonderful. Lots of good places to sit and read or visit. Lots of places to be near the pool or hot tub. Shaded areas. Sunny areas. Great bars and snack bars. The Serenity Deck for adults is fabulous. The library is well run and inviting. Given the advent of the Kindle, the relatively small size of the library is less important than it would have been in the past. The fitness center was slightly smaller than I expected, but it was well managed and well equipped. The pools, hot tubs and the water park are all superior. I often walked on deck five, the Promenade Deck. Usually, I did this very early. I saw several rainbows, including a full double rainbow ahead of the ship with the illusion that we would be sailing beneath it soon. I like to play trivia. My wife did handicrafts and I played on trivia teams. Lots of people from Texas. Lots of Canadians. Those groups bring lots of good will and friendliness to social life on board, and nice people mean a great deal on a cruise.
The theater: The main theater is very beautiful and well designed for serving drinks. However, the spaciousness provided for passing waiters reduces the seating capacity to 1300. Even with two shows, this is a problem. When they have only one show during the evening, forgetaboutit. Entertainment varied from poor to very good on this cruise. Rouch sea conditions adversely affected the entertainment. I expect that the new cast for cruising from Galveston will provide quality entertainment. Theater lighting and special effects are impressive, but they have bulky equipment haphazardly taking up some of the seating space on the main floor. How can that be so on a brand new ship? The stainless steel pillars in the theater are very attractive but seem to be designed to maximize the number of people who have some of their stage view blocked.
The buffet: I thought the buffet was very good. The barbecue and ethnic offerings, such as tandor, were good. The deli was very good, as is usually true on Carnival ships and never true of other ships. Many people complained about finding seats and tables in the buffet, but I thought it was less of a problem on this ship than on many other ships.
Dining room: We were assigned late seating in the Southern Lights dining room, deck three. The first night was very poor. Not the food. It was good. We were at a table for 10 with one other couple. We lacked silverware, especially spoons. They were setting up for breakfast and seemed much more into that than in providing any service to us. The other couple managed to move to early seating. The next night we hooked up with two couples assigned to the adjacent table for 10. We shifted to their table and the six of us ate dinner together for the rest of the cruise. Our service improved over the course of the cruise. We began to instruct the waiters to provide salt shakers and other supporting material. On a couple of nights, we actually got offered pepper from pepper mills. They quickly learned to provide a plate of lemon slices. I think with more training, the waiters will be successful. We got our main courses cold, but hot desserts usually came hot. Four of us always ordered the same drinks with dessert, but they never remembered that we did. Most of the green veggies provided on this cruise were more of a garnish than a side dish, but you could always request more. Carnivals food is good in general. They are not into pies, but their desserts tend to be quite good. Breakfast and Lunch in Southern Lights was way, way below any reasonable standard of service. It was as if they wanted to punish us for having the audacity to show up. The breakfast menu was always the same. Special requests clearly pained the waiters to the point of ruining their days. Ken, our Maitre'D, has a beautiful voice and sang for us every night. The waiters served as chorus and dancers. They were better at that than at waiting on tables.
Excursions: Our ship's tour to the Caves of Drach on Mayorca was terrific. Our ship's tour to Grenada from Malaga is something I will treasure forever.
On Gran Canaria Lynn needed to see a dentist to get a prescription for medicine, so we did not take a tour. The dental office was ultra-modern and the dentist quite young. We speak Spanish. The office visit was 20 euros and the pharmacy charged 3.50 for the medicine. We did a lot of walking, drank beer, used the internet and enjoyed our Gran Canaria time. We were going to go on a ship's tour snorkeling on Grand Turk, but that was canceled so the ship could put into Freeport in the Bahamas to repair a damaged rear thruster unit. That damage caused our cruise to be rougher than it should have been. The ship was subject to great vibrations and many noises one would not expect from a new ship. Being in a far forward cabin we had howling wind and many thumps and bangs and wave poundings. Although they did not get the complete repair done in Freeport as hoped, the ship seemed to handle better on the two full sea days between Freeport and Galveston.
Disembarkation: This went very smoothly and our trip to the airport was nice.