To preface this review, I must state that after reading the reviews of previous cruisers on this itinerary and cruise line, we were a little skeptical about this cruise, but reading is only part of the experience, so we ventured forth, and to our suprise, were a little disturbed by what some of the folks had written regarding this cruise.
We arrived at the cruise terminal around 12:30 pm, and yes there were quite a few folks trying to get on, and off of the cruise ship, so we just bit our tounges and had my wife's son drop us at the curb, and turned our luggage over to one of the porters and proceeded to the check-in line. After a quick "which line should we be in" to one of Carnivals employees, we found ourselves breezing thru creck-in and on the ship within 45 minutes, complete with sign & sail cards in hand. Yes, it's true that the ship is a bit crowded at first, since cabins were not going to be opened until 2 pm, so we made due on the Lido deck (that just happened to be our cabin deck as well), and made it safely into our rooms precisely at 2 pm. We opened the door to our room, and were pleased with the layout and accomodations. As we were waiting for our luggage to arrive, I opened a bottle of soda, and proceeded to sit out on the balcony enjoying the harbor view. Suddenly, our neighbors had the same idea, but they were smokers, and the smoke drifted towards our cabin. I did not know that Carnival hasn't instituted a "no smoking" policy in the cabins yet, so we were a bit perplexed that we would have to endure the smoke from our fellow cruisers.....but to make a long story short, after a few phone calls and meeting with the Ship's Hotel Director, we were given a room on the same deck, only instead of being in the middle of deck 9, we were moved to the forward section....
We had "Your Time Dining" option, and it was a great experience, from the greeters to the wait staff, no issues at all. The food was good, and it didn't take 2 hours to complete the meals...never made it to the Pinnacle Steak house, didn't feel the need.
Everyone from Carnival had a smile, and we were greeted very professional in all instances....Our room attendant was very nice, and did a "super-duper" job. He lived up to his name!
Puerto Vallarta was very clean. We booked an excursion to see the city, and experience a tequila factory & lunch. Traffic was bad due to an accident, but our driver maintained his professionalism, and got us back safe & sound. It was a truly rewarding experience.
All in all this was a nice cruise, it would of been nicer had we not visited Cabo San Lucas twice in one week, but instead made it just a one day stop, and travelled somewhere else....Manzanillo, etc. Cabo is too commercialized as you get off the tender (which went well, both days!).
It's a shame that the entire cruise industry doesn't enforce the no smoking policy within the balcony and room, but it would have been a more pleasurable experience to sit on the balcony at night, and enjoyed the sounds of the ocean without having to endure the obnoxious smell of cigarettes, but we made due and after moving to the forward section of the ship, it was much better.
The cruise was a nice experience overall, albeit with the smoking policy, but once Carnival gets around to enforcing the no smoking in room/balcony policy, we will either upgrade to a Spa cabin, or choose another cruise line that prohibits smoking in rooms/balconies.
We would recommend this cruise to others, but please keep an open mind when reading previous critics..we all have opinions. It's what we make of the experience that rewards us the most....Happy Cruising!