I've read many reviews of this ship, some ok, some good, some not so good. Here is my pinion of this ship and the ports of call.
First, the ship is actually quite nice. I liked the decor and the renaissance themed art. It was easy to get around and had everything I would want on a cruise ship.
The fitness room and spa was nice, never had trouble getting to the cardio or weight machines.
While we never went into any of the pools or hot tubs, there were plenty of them, though the pools were a bit small and frequently crowded with yelling kids, but that's to be expected I suppose. Fortunately this ship features the Serenity Lounge on the stern, that is for adults only and has its own bar, hot tub, and lots of hammocks and lounge chairs - but it was full most of the time. We were able to spend some time there and it was most relaxing!
Being gamblers, we spent a LOT of time in the casino. The slots are no more or less loose than any land-based casino I've been to, and there are plenty of table games to play. I would have liked to see some newer slot games, as the machines are rather old, but they are still fun. We were able to rack up our 1500 points on day 2 of the cruise so we drank free while in the casino 9and playing) the rest of the cruise. the trick to this is, once you hit your free drinks, just play the penny machines at the lowest bet when you want to drink, and you'll be spending as little as 9 cents, yes 9 cents, gambling while getting $8 to $10 drinks free!
The food at the mermaid grill was typical buffet fare - ok, nothing special. The Normandie Dining Room food was a little better, usually well prepared, good variety, and promptly delivered. We elected the anytime dining and never waited longer than 5 minutes or so to be seated. The final night of the cruise we got lobster and prime rib and had all we wanted!
David's steak house, however, is a MUST EXPERIENCE! The food, the service, the decor, absolutely rivals any of the finest eateries we have here in Boston! And THAT'S saying something!
Our cabin was nice, nothing special, but again, suited our needs nicely. The cabin steward was very nice and always took care of us.
We never met a rude or inattentive member of the crew, everyone was great.
Now, here's the one BAD aspect of the cruise. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT TAKE THE BLUE LAGOON SHORE EXCURSION in Nassau! If I could, I would have sued for false advertising!
The description is a "luxurious, private white sand beach with great luncheon and drink availability". Ok, not even CLOSE! There is chain link fence running along the dock into the water and oil spill looking booms roping off the swim area, which is tiny! The food is advertised as 100% Angus beef burgers, but I can assure you unless the server's name was "Angus", there was no Angus to be seen, only dried chicken, cold rice, and hockey-puck like hamburgers. I was completely disappointed with this excursion and, to top it off, Carnival charges $90 per person for this, while you can get it on line for a mere $50 if you're NOT a cruise ship passenger. HUH??? Yes, you must book this through the ship so Carnival can apparently get their commission.
When I brought my concerns up with the shore excursion desk, I was told "we have to get in touch with the trip provider". Now, if I book this trip through Carnival on the ship, why do they have to contact ANYONE else in order to make it right?
We were told it was a 4.5 hour excursion, and it ended up being 2.5 at best, but only an hour for us as we left early it was so bad.
All I asked for, was a refund of ONE of the tickets . . .I figured whereas we did go on the excursion I should at least pay for what I did "use" of it. I figured it would have been a nice gesture for Carnival to refund basically just half of the price, as we only got about half of what was promised.
In stead, I got a letter from the assistant shore excursion manager telling me he was passing along my concerns to the tour operators and was sorry my excursion sucked, but please continue to sail with carnival. Having dropped over $3000 in the casino, I would think a lousy $90 refund would have been not too much to ask for - after-all, they would have gotten in back in a slot machine anyway!
All in all, it was a good trip, a good time and pleasant experience. But, again, a reminder, DON'T BOOK EXCURSIONS TO THE BLUE LAGOON!!!!