I just got off the ship six hours ago after a 7 day western Caribe cruise, and wasn't pleased.
While I have several issues, my single biggest is the fact that they are constantly selling to you. There is hardly a moment that you are not being subjected to some form of 'extra' sales. The biggest and most obvious is the photographers. They are everywhere you go. Take a still on the promenade in the evening, and you literally have to climb over the row of people with backdrops offering to take your picture. They were relentless, and they crowded the walking area, having pushed back sofas and chairs to make room. Every night at dinner, there they were... "Would you like a photo"? When we got off the ship at ports, at one time I counted 5 different photographers as we exited the ship... literally asking us to have or pictures taken with a steel fence as a background. One said "see you at the beach". It was non-stop.
As you walk through the promenade, when you are not being offered a photo shoot, you are looking at stands trying o sell you things. "Special Sale on Alcohol"... Book your next cruise"... etc. When none of those, you are sure to had a monitor trying to sell you something.
I understand that it is normal to try to sell extras, but this was overwhelming.
There was also this sense of the cruise over-controlling everything. The ports had controlled shopping. The fact that they had negotiated with shore providers that they would only charge the inflated "cruise rates" to people wanting to venture out on their own was awful.
We actually found ourselves joking at one point that we were surprised that they didn't have a "get of the ship quickly" service that they would charge extra for!
Time at ports... We did Cozumel, Belize, Roatan and Grand Cayman. The little amount of time was ridiculous. We were told that Carnival stays less than the others. Not sure why, but shore time was roughly 6 or 7 hours max. Less when you take into consideration that it could take hours to get off the ship with the crowds.
And the crowds.... There simply is not enough public space on the ship to handle the passenger count. We were constantly in line. We stood in line for the Mongolian buffet for about 20 minutes. The normal buffet was always a huge line, and as I said before, getting off the ship was madness. In the evening, if you go out on the promenade, it was packed with people crowding every public space (perhaps getting rid of the row of photographers would help). Want to see a show? Get there 45 minutes early, or risk no seats.
The food. Meh. Breakfast was nothing special. The oatmeal was good (imagine that is the best I can say). The Mongolian was awful. The deli was ok. The pizza was marginal. The burgers, however, were great. The dining room food was fair, but not quality I have had another cruises.
The service was ok. Our waiter was fine, not special. Our room steward was nice. In general, nothing stood out anywhere on the ship.
Our room was very nice. We had a suite, and have to say it was our best experience. However, if anyone is reading this, there are few outlets. Two US outlets to be exact. You can gain some if you have a European converter, as there were a couple European outlets as well.
And that is it. All that stood out was our nice room and the burgers.
Overall, I have been on something like 15 cruises in my life. This was the first time that I was actually looking forward to getting off.... so much so that we made sure we were among the first to get off the ship this morning, and did so knowing that this was our final cruise with Carnival.