To start with, I have cruised 23 times, this being number 13 with Carnival. I am a Platinum Past Guest with Carnival and Royal Caribbean.
To begin, as a VIP (Platinum), embarkation was fast and easy as registration was quick and the long lines were avoided.
My room was on floor 6 above the Ocean Plaza, but I felt like my room was in Ocean Plaza when there was live music playing there. Apparently there is no type of insulation or acoustic barrier between floors 5 and 6 in that area. Other than that, the room was nice but nothing special and the bathroom was the same as on most other Carnival ships. The TV channel selections left a lot to be desired. There were no sports channels (ESPN, etc) as there were in the bars with televisions. So if you wanted to watch sports you had to go to a bar. The room stewards were very friendly and did an excellent job.
The Lido dining area was about the same as other Carnival ships, with a long buffet line instead of separate areas like on other cruise line ships where salads, breads, entrees, etc are separate. The food was not as good as expected. Replenishment of foods was slow at times and you had to wait.
The waiter and assistants in the Southern Lights dining room did a great job but the food was nothing special. On most cruises, the Maitre D sings, however in this dining room we had a singer trying to be a Maitre D. I don't know why he was there other than to sing as the rules/restrictions on clothing were not being enforced and he never came near our dining area. On casual dining nights, baseball caps could be seen in the dining room, with 3 men at the same table with baseball caps on every casual dining night. On formal night, men with jeans and sandals were observed. Carnival should either enforce the dress codes/restrictions or eliminate them.
The food and service in the Cucina Del Capitano was very good. The extra charge has been raised from $10 to $12.
The Pizzeria service was very slow in the late evenings with long waits for pizza as none was prepared.
There never seemed to be deck chairs/loungers available, while a great number of them were occupied only by towels. Reserving of deck chairs was not enforced as some people left a towel on their chair/lounger and were gone for 30-45 minutes or longer to eat, etc. There was no Caribbean/calypso music played in the pool area even though this was a Caribbean cruise. No bands played in the pool area and it would have been nice to hear music with steel drums or other type of band music instead of DJ crap.
The Red Frog Pub was a good addition, their signature beer is good and the bartenders were friendly.
The Casino staff wasn't very friendly and drink service become very slow after becoming an "ON US" customer.
The shows were nothing exceptional as compared to other Carnival cruises and cruise lines.
Arriving back at the ship on a tender in Grand Cayman took a long time as a previous tender was still unloading passengers because there was only a single scanner to process everyone through and passengers were prevented from leaving the tender as the lines waiting to be scanned were too long for the waiting area on the ship. Passengers on our tender were stopped a few times from leaving until the lines shortened up inside the ship.
The ship was late arriving back at port due to dense fog which closed the port down. As a VIP, I was instructed to go to the Northern Lights dining room to wait for disembarkation. There were no people directing and/or signs designating which area was for VIP's, self assist passengers, others, etc in the dining room, which was a zoo. Disembarking was a disaster and took more than an hour after leaving the ship to retrieve luggage. I was one of the first off the ship as a VIP (Platinum) in category Group 1. While waiting for Group 1 luggage to be delivered to the luggage pickup area, I observed that luggage for groups 12, 22, 25, 26, etc was being brought to the area before Group 1. When we were finally able to retrieve our luggage, processing through customs was fairly quick.
Waiting for a cab took another hour or more as there were no cabs waiting in line and they were arriving one at a time every 5-10 minutes. We finally left the port area about 3:00 PM which is 5-6 hours later than when we left from previous cruises there. Although much of that time was related to the fog, the 2 hours for retrieving luggage and getting a cab could have been 15 minutes or less if properly handled.
Again, I was one of the first to retrieve luggage and to get a cab. I'm sure it was even worse for the 3,000+ passengers who followed.