We drove to Long Beach from northern California on Sunday morning & checked in to Hotel Maya for the night. Loved the hotel & the view of Long Beach harbor. Left our car there for the next 5 days & took the hotel shuttle to the cruise terminal. All quick & easy; we would do this part again.
We arrived at the cruise terminal at about 12:15, checked one bag, did self assist for the small one. Line looked a bit long once inside, but moved rather quickly. We did all the pre-stuff on-line so just had to show our credit card & we were on our way. Crossing the gang way was a nightmare!! It was raining pretty hard & the wind was blowing the rain sideways. Most of the folks in front of us were elderly & the rain & wind seemed to slow them down, which made being behind them dreadful. By the time we reached the ship our legs & feet were completely soaked. Thank goodness we wore waterproof jackets, that saved our top half.
The very first thing that greeted us at this point was the port-o-potty smell-WHEW!
Once on the ship we were greeted with welcomes, told our cabins wouldn't be ready until about 1:30 & directed to the Brasserie for lunch buffet. We entered the Atrium & took a quick look around. As in other reviews, we found the purple, orange & green neon lighting tacky. Vegas lounge looking for sure.
We walked through the Promenade deck to reach the buffet & the smell of cigarette smoke wafts through this entire area. We soon found the source-the Cigar Bar where smoking is permitted-has no doors. Rather it is open into the Promenade. We made it a point to avoid this area if possible; we both found the cigarette smoke smell ever present & obnoxious.
The buffet was Italian & we didn't expect much so we were pleasantly surprised that it was actually quite good. I had some sort of fish & it wasn't fishy or dry, just nice flavor. We also appreciated the salad bar that was stocked with plenty of fresh fruit & salad fixings, we ate a lot of that! We only hit the dessert bar once & didn't much care for the lemon chiffon cake I got.(As noted by many other people, the decor here is definitely strange. Purple tubing trimmed in neon orange & black spider web looking things covered the ceiling. We never could figure out what it was supposed to be). Just as we finished eating there was an announcement that all cabins were ready.
We went directly to our cabin, & met our steward, Bosco on the way. He was very friendly & pleasant, knew our names & remembered them through the whole cruise. He was very good at keeping our room tidy & fresh in a very unobtrusive way.
Our cabin was about what we expected, not large or roomy, but not terribly cramped for 2 people either. Plenty of closet & drawer space for the 2 of us, suit cases (even the giant one) fit neatly under the bed. In room safe big enough to hold our wallets, video camera & my jewelry. And everything was clean & neat. The room itself is very quiet. We never heard other people in their rooms, except for the toilets flushing. What can you expect when you have a giant garbage disposal going off? We could however, hear people in the hallway, ALOT. On a side note, we absolutely hated the people who let their kids run up & down the corridors outside the cabins & needed to carry on loud conversations with each other. Wasn't sure if we could complain to our steward? Just decided to chalk it up to idiots. We didn't want to let small things spoil our time.
I would have to say the cabin decor was really sad. The feel of the cabin could have been greatly improved with a few simple changes like soft blues & greens used in the fake curtains, bed cover, carpeting, etc. Instead it was gold & red & oranges - very outdated & conflicting with the huge watercolor painting in blue & yellow.
We had Any Time Dining in the Mardi Gras. We went about 7:45 & waited about 7 minutes to be seated; not bad! This was the only night we had any wait; the rest of the nights we went right in. 1st night our head waiter, James was a very pleasant fellow, but kept complaining about his assistant waiter to us, who was definitely slacking. My water glass sat empty through half the meal, until James refilled for me. 2nd night we had Oksana & she was fantastic! She seemed to always appear at just the right time, dishes cleared quickly & unobtrusively, refills done, etc. 3rd night can't remember her name but terrible service again, coupled with a guy who dribbled water across our table & bread basket every time he refilled our water. He was always looking away, as if he didn't even notice us. Last night we requested Oksana & we received wonderful service again. Food was up & down. Flat iron steak tender & juicy but a very strong, gamey flavor. Crab cakes like mushy tuna. Lobster was tender & delicious but very small, maybe 6-7 bites. Shrimp served with it rubbery & tough. Atlantic salmon delicious, and moist. We always had the fresh fruit cocktail & it was always good. Desserts hit & miss too. Grand Marnier souffle was good. Chocolate melting cake good. Pumpkin pie was terrible, with a texture/consistency of jello. How do you screw up pumpkin pie??
We tried breakfast at the buffet, always something good, plus all the fresh fruit. Made to order omelets at the poolside grill were good, but limited fresh ingredients, only olives, cheese, bell peppers, salsa, tomatoes (which looked sad) and onions. (We are healthy eaters, in case you couldn't tell by now!)
We tried the panini bar, it was okay. Hubby tried the sushi, said it was okay. We had pre-ordered continental breakfast from room service every morning. We really enjoyed having coffee, fruit, bagel in our room before we started our day. Even though you schedule your delivery time (for ex. 7:00-7:30) it was very hit & miss. One day they actually woke us up, coming almost 15 minutes early. And they ignore the do not disturb sign. But still loved having that service.
We did not book any shore excursions through Carnival. We just felt that it was too expensive. I researched a great deal before we left & had things booked on our own.
We got off the ship about 8:00 am, wanting to bypass the large crowds getting off later. Tendering was simple & quick. Getting back on was the same, no waiting at 3:00 pm. We saw dolphins jumping in the water near our tender & the driver turned around so we could go by them again & get a better look. Getting off the ship in Ensenada was easy too. Again we left early to beat the crowds, about 9:30 am. Returned about 6:00 pm & easy getting back on. Security check was very simple. We really enjoyed our time off the ship & our excursions.
Public restrooms on the ship were all clean, but the longer we were on the ship, the more out of order or broken doors there were. And of course the ever present port-o-potty smell in them.V
We enjoyed all the ships photographers & the little photography set-ups everywhere. Gave us lots to chose from at the end of our cruise. Watch for the Yoo-Hoo! guy, he's great! You'll know exactly what I'm talking about as soon as you hear him.
Liked the Serenity area. Too bad the weather was so cool on this cruise, could have been more enjoyable with warmer weather. No loud/drunk folks when we were there.
Didn't try the Waterworks, although it looks fun. Just too cold!
Lido deck pool looked nice, but again too cold. Only a few brave kids got in it.
Saw 2 comedy shows, one family friendly, one adults only. Both were relatively funny. Warning-adults only is pretty raunchy at times. Started to watch a game show type thing in the Paris lounge, but it was at the front of the ship & the rocking was really getting to us, so we left after 5 minutes.
Our biggest complaint would be the constant side to side rocking motion we experienced the entire time we were at sea (including anchored at Catalina). While neither of us was nauseous, we felt a general malaise, lethargy & exhaustion the whole time, which really overshadowed the experience in a negative way. We ended up napping more than we ever have, just to cope. My hubby is a person that is affected by very little, and it did him in too, so i know it was bad! We probably would have had a more positive view of cruising if we hadn't felt so lousy while on board. Oh yes, and that last day "fun day at sea"? I think the only purpose of this is to get people to spend money. We set sail at 10 pm Wednesday night & didn't stop until the wee hours Friday morning, rocking side to side the entire time. Ensenada is not that far from Long Beach. Why not another day in one of the ports? I think the answer is money.
Not sure we will cruise again. If we do, I do not think it would be with Carnival.