We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale's Port Everglades, which was a pleasant and organized experience. Very quickly we were on the ship and enjoying champagne on the Lido deck. There were other equally positive experiences including our personable waiter, Andy, the ahi tuna at the fish n chips bar and a new experience with Grolsch beer.
Unfortunately, there were also some negatives on this cruise.
-On all of my previous cruises, the room steward made a point of introducing him/herself on day 1. That did not happen this time, I believe it was day 3 when we met him. We requested wine glasses in our room and he provided them. However, every day we had to request them again (or just take them off his cart) as he apparently did not realize we would like them each day.
-Secondly, our waiter was very nice, but i cannot say he was a great waiter and he seemed to not be helped enough by his assistants to the point that we had trouble getting to the 10:30 show after the 8:15 dinner seating each day. We saw others around us eating well before we even ordered.
-Third, we purchased a wine package. On day 2, they were out of the chardonnay on the intermediate priced package. The waiter informed me that we would have to choose another wine from the list (there was only 1 chardonnay, which is the wine we preferred). When I told him I wanted a chardonnay, he did give me a wine menu and told me the dollar amount I could choose. The substitute wine was very good, but when we ordered it again the next night, we were told we'd have to pay the difference. This was not satisfactory and I let him know that. He provided another chardonnay (inferior) and while we accepted it, we did not like it. We did see the maitre d talking to him and we were told as we left that they would allow the original substitute the following night if we were again drinking chardonnay. They did do that and so the outcome was good, but it seems inexcusable to run out of the wine in the package on day2 and then not willingly substitute with something comparable.
-Fourth, the lines for everything were horribly long. Not Carnival's fault, except that we did overhear a conversation between employees about how many were on this cruise, including a large group of students who were 3 and 4 to a room, thus increasing the passenger count somewhat.
-Finally, the port. Originally, we were scheduled to go to St. Thomas but the schedule was changed instead putting us in La Romana, Dominican Republic. This port is in no way ready for the number of people on these large ships. We took a carnival excursion to Bayahibe Beach. Instead we went to an all inclusive resort, which was nice enough, but the guard at the gate with an automatic weapon made us uneasy the entire day. I will never go to that port again and if I have to, I will stay on the ship
We had a great cruise, but I'll be looking beyond Carnival next time, in spite of my frequent flyer status. The service is just not what it used to be or what I expect.