After reading quite a few complaints on this board I was braced for some bad experiences. However after cruising on many lines over 16 years I'm prepared for most things. The cruise was very very good and quite enjoyable. It was me and my husband and our 14 year old daughter. We had a spa balcony cabin on the 12th deck #12044. Overall we were extremely satisfied and we really enjoyed the cruise. We found the service was excellent, food was excellent and the shows were good. I did not see the illusionist but my husband and daughter did and loved it. The comedians were good and entertaining. The other shows were typical but entertaining. The service was the best we've had in several cruises and the activities were varied and many thoughout the ship.
Here's some of the details. at lunch we had the stir fry wok stations and it's the best. We also had the ocean grill on the promenade deck/ they will makie you a veggie burger or tofu taco. There is Tandoor grill at the very back of the ship that we didn't try but was never crowded and good for vegetarians. We ate in the Southern lights dining room for late seating most nights. The food was excellent and they always had several choices including vegetarian. They even had fried chicken that was very good and I had to try it after my daughter ordered it. Our wait staff was the best in 6 cruises. Drinks were always refilled before they were half way down. Coffee was hot!! (this was a problem on the Disney and Carnival Liberty). Food was hot (also a problem on other ships) Waiters singing and dancing every night. Red Pub Frog FABULOUS!! The beer fantastic the guitar singer entertainer Wonderful. What a great idea. The italian restaurant, EXCELLENT, HUGE Portions. The piano bar was good. The spa was absolutely awesome and we were very glad we got a spa cabin as we had a special entrace and unlimited access to the thermal suites and whirlpool "pool". Two steam rooms, one lemon one eucalyptas two dry saunas looking out over the ocean. Yoga classes great!! gym bigger than usual. In answer to some of the complaints listed I can tell you this. Yes the ship does creak and moan and make noise a little more than other ships. Not sure why, it was very windy on our voyage and that may be why. I heard a lot of noises from the serenity area (we were directly under it ) but then again I kind of expected that. This area we never really enjoyed since it was mostly packed. However I truly believe this ship is a big experiment for Carnival. Things are a little different and you can tell they are trying new things. Promenade deck has hot tubs and lots of lounge chairs this gives an alternative to the pool deck areas and is a nice touch, it was never crowded. They then put eating venues on this deck to accommodate, but they forgot the drink stations!! and as was mentioned before very little staff to man the stations. Also very little advertisement of things, like veggie burgers at the ocean grill or the chocolate buffet one afternoon. Or salad bar at the sushi bar. Also announcements were very sparse and were made at the last minute. I asked our waiter about it and he said they had cut down on the morning announcements because people complained. It was true that the Cruise Director and staff were not entertaining or funny, my opinion is that they just haven't "gelled". My thought was they act like it's "a job" as opposed to other cruises I've been on where they act like they're on vacation with you. This was our main gripe the cruise staff, very dry, very boring very into themselves didn't get out and meet and greet. But this didn't really bother us too much. On the flip side my daughter enjoyed her stay very much, met some friends, roamed the ship. The kids areas are larger and better than other ships. 24 hr ice cream, 24 hr pizza better than other ships. Our cabin stewards the BEST!! Embarkation and Debarkation is always dicey when ships get delayed and fog in the gulf created this problem as our ship was delayed going and coming, the chaos at the port has to do with the port not Carnival. One note however to anyone at Carnival. It would be nice if there were dedicated down elevators on debarkation day, all of the self assist people had to pull their luggage down the stairs, We had to pull ours down from deck 12 to deck 3.....PLEASE HELP!! Well that's my review, LOVED IT, LOVED IT!!! all the good stuff made up for the lackluster cruise director staff!