We love Bermuda (this was to be our 5th visit), so when I saw that this was the last cruise to Bermuda out of Baltimore this year, I jumped on it. We are relatively experienced cruisers - we have been to Bermuda a cruise ships twice previously, but we have never cruised on Carnival before. After we booked the cruise we found that Bob's brother also had a large group going. We have never managed to get on the same sailing with him before and we were looking forward to it. Eating with them made up for the somewhat disappointing food. I rented a scooter for our last cruise to Alaska and it worked really well, so I had bought a scooter and was going to try it out on this cruise.
After we picked up the rental car Saturday and loaded all the luggage and scooter into it in preparation to driving to the port Sunday, we got a robo call notifying us that the ship was late. Normally we rent a car and drive to the port as this is cheaper than paying for parking. Finally I got an email from Carnival stating that we would board Monday morning 9-12 because the ship ran into the big low with seas of 20 feet and the young teen club and the arcade room on deck 4 were damaged.
We live a good two hour drive (90 miles) from the airport. It would be difficult for us to get to Baltimore by 9 - I used to do it when I was working, but I had to leave before 6 a.m. After a lot of discussion, Bob thought we should turn in the rental car and drive my car up. I found a hotel (Country Inn & Suites near BWI) that had free cruise parking and made a reservation there for Sunday night. The room was $139 and we could leave the car for up to 20 days for free. This is a much better deal than renting a car each way and MUCH MUCH cheaper than paying for parking at the pier.
So we returned the rental car (it cost us $33 to drive 20 miles - from the rental place to our house and back), and canceled the other car which because it was pre-paid was $10 more. We drove up to the port Sunday, checked into the hotel and watched football. In the morning there was free breakfast and a free shuttle to the port.
Embarkation at Baltimore is always good. The only glitch was that I have a new watch that set off the beeper (my old watch was plastic). I (on my scooter) scootered up the ramp and we found our room by 9:30 a.m. It wasn't quite ready, but they let us put our carry-on luggage in it.
We liked our cabin. Even though it was not a handicapped cabin, there was plenty of space to walk around the beds whether they were configured as a king or as singles, and more than adequate storage. We told the stewards that we wanted the beds separated so that I could come in, do a three point turn and park the scooter against the wall at the end of the bed. There is a fridge but it is a good thing we don't want to use it because it is behind where we parked the scooter. We put the table and stool sideways under the desk to give us scooter room. Each bed has a small nightstand, but it does not have drawers. Above the section with the ice bucket and the safe is the TV which seems to have the Florida Channel 7 (good as it gave us news of Tropical Storm Sean in advance of the other channels) as well as Fox News. It also has a very good bow camera and a stern camera. However the software which showed the ship's position was extremely primitive and uninformative.
There was a tiny bathroom with a shower in the corner, but there IS space to put stuff on shelves. The room stewards were really good, and made wonderful towel animals in addition to keeping everything spotless.
I thought the decor of the ship was a little over the top with lots of Renaissance type paintings and other types of art - very explicit nudes and such things and the ship is showing a little wear. Bob thought that if they threw out all the fake columns and frames, the ship would be lighter by at least a ton. The elevators were small and I had to drive the scooter straight in and let others fit in around me (and the hold door open button did not work so I had to be quick to get in or the doors closed), but we rarely had to wait long for an elevator.
There seemed to be nice music playing in the public room that was enjoyable to listen to. We did not go to any shows but the people that did seemed to like them. No one could sign on to the internet cafe on embarkation because the new people had not been entered on the computer. I actually won the raffle for free internet so I had a marvelous time posting photos etc. on this trip. The internet speed was at least as fast as usual on a cruise ship.
Food - I had heard that Carnival had excellent food, but they changed their menus before this cruise and I was absolutely NOT impressed with the food, or the general service in the dining room.
I hated eating in the Lido because there is no way to do this realistically with a scooter or wheelchair. Each food station has a line to wait in and I have the scooter because I can't stand for very long. Even though they have trays, when I manage to get food, I have nowhere to put it while I get to a table. We worked it out that Bob would get me a sandwich from the deli and some desert, or else we went and got hot dogs and chicken nuggets from around the pool.
Breakfast was pretty good although I think the food would have been hotter and done more to order in the buffet. But as above, I never went to the buffet if I could avoid it. Lunch and dinner food was spotty in quality - some very good and some really awful. Seafood was less reliable than beef. I had snails once that were good and the next time they had a funny taste. I had Oysters Rockefeller and it was good but some people they were not cooked at all. The dinner waiters were better than the lunch waiters.
To access the outside decks, I had to get off the scooter while holding the door open and push the scooter over the threshold as it was too high for the scooter and both the front and back wheels were off the ground. I liked that we could go all the way around the stern on the promenade deck, but not that we couldn't get closer to the bow. For the lifeboat drill I was not allowed to go outside for it and did it inside, which I did not mind at all. Since we left port about noon rather than at dusk, I was able to get some pictures of the port and bridges and lighthouses that I normally would not be able to see in the dark.
It was a little rough going out to Bermuda, but we have no problem with rough weather and it was not as rough as some cruises we have been on. I wouldn't go so far as to say we like it, but we like the quieter ship that results from rough weather.
Since we had been to Bermuda before and had seen most of the major attractions, I had a plan that did not involve ship excursions. Had been going to do an excursion I would NOT have picked any snorkeling, swimming or glass bottom boat excursions as I know from experience that this time of year the water will be too cold for swimming and too rough to see anything.
We did this cruise back to back so we didn't get off in Baltimore. After everyone was off the ship (about 10:30), they escorted us off and back on again - very quick and nice.