This was our second cruise on Carnival. Our last one was 10 years ago on the Glory, when it was new. I will give a general overview of our likes and dislikes for the cruise.
-Serenity Adults-Only Area: Very relaxing, good drink service, comfortable seating, hot tubs. Our single friends spent the entire cruise on this deck! Having a child, we were only able to enjoy it one day but it was the area of the ship we liked best. Quiet and relaxing!
-Punchliner's Comedy Club: We caught the show almost every night when they offered one, partly because they were so great and partly because the entertainment options were very limited.
-Game Shows: IE: Not-so-Newly Married Game, Family Feud Game. Very entertaining! Some of us participated and others were audience members. SO funny!
-Waterworks: This area not only proved to be a blast for the 6 year old girl's in our group but for us adults too.
-Our Cabin Steward: Carlos, helped make the trip enjoyable. Wonderful personality and so helpful. We tipped him extra as we really enjoyed him.
-Ship Configuration: Doesn't allow for you to go from one end of the ship to the other on certain floors. For example, our dining room was located on deck 4 but to get to it, you had to go to deck 3 and up and over to access it or deck 5 to go down and access it. Was very goofy. So, no matter what, we found ourselves always climbing stairs or taking elevators. This was my biggest complaint of the cruise.
-Lack of Entertainment: The 2 cruises I went on before this one, there wasn't enough time in the day to do everything I wanted to do but I did not have that problem on this ship. Not much in the way of entertainment appealed to our group of mostly 40 something's. They only did Bingo once or twice per day and only did ONE game each time! $20/card for one game was a huge ripoff. Shows were just average except for the one night. Nightlcubs had no one in them. Hmmm, maybe that's because they would do only one kind of music for 15 minutes? The 80's night they advertised turned out to be only 15 minutes of 80's music. Are you kidding? Then they went into Latin Music at which point our group left the club. Spent way too much time in the casino (and lost way too much too) because there wasn't anything else to do. Hubby and friends liked the arcade. Scheduling of entertainment was really stupid because they would have some shows start at 7:30. Well, if you have early dinner seating, you would eat from 6-8 and miss the show. If you had late dinner (8:15) you'd have to walk out early or miss it all together.
Cabin Temperature: We had our thermostat set to the coolest setting and in the middle of the night the first night we all woke up and couldn't sleep because it was so hot in the room. I complained twice to guest services the next day before someone finally made it a little better but each night in the middle of the night the room would still get very hot. Other passengers said the same thing was going on in their rooms so we were all speculating that Carnival turns all the air conditioning down at night to save money. When you can't sleep because it's so bloody hot in your room, that's not good. For this reason alone, I would never sail on Carnival.
-Demographic: I know Carnival doesn't have any control over this but our cruise felt like it was a cruise for retired people. They were everywhere and walking at a snails pace. Most of them were pretty grumpy too. Now, I have nothing against older people but when they congregate right in the middle of a pathway (to the extent that it STOPS traffic flow), I have a problem with that. When I am getting my baggage at debarkation and one of them says to me, "Can you get your kid out of the way so I can get my bag?", I have a problem with that. Not to mention the dirty looks we got because they wanted our deck chairs we were using. We weren't saving them for hours on end, they were empty at one point because our friends went to grab lunch and were coming right back. I think the older people have figured out that Carnival is a budget cruise line. So, at least on this ship, at this time of year, it was not the demographic you would expect from a "FUN" ship.
-Beverages: We carried our own pop and bottled water on. I didn't worry too much about spending money on pop because they offer free lemonade and iced tea. Well, the "lemonade" was pretty much yellow water (tasteless) and the iced tea was awful.
-Ports: The ship didn't dock in Roatan because of rough seas. Though this is a "dislike" better to be safe than to have a Concordia situation.
-Cloud 9 Spa-Good and bad. Had a great mother-daughter massage but first had to sit through a 20 minute sales pitch on all the products I needed to purchase. Advice if you go to the spa: When they have you fill out the paperwork on your "areas of concern", don't circle any and in addition, tell them you sell Amway. Maybe then they won't do the pitch. Absurd that if you have a 60 minute massage, they tell you it will take 2 hours (because it's one hour for the massage and another 45 minutes of sales pitch)
-Food: Average-below average. The best thing at dinner was the soup and the best meal all cruise was a cheeseburger. I am a "Foodie" and appreciate good food and variety. This ship offered neither and all the first time cruisers in our group seemed really disappointed that the food was just "okay". Eat in the dining room for breakfast; it will take longer but it's more relaxed and the food is much better. Not much variety at lunch for kids. You are stuck with ordering them a hotdog or hamburger from the grille area, neither one my child liked. Pizza was not very good at all.
-Camp Carnival: Like other reviewers, we found the 6 year olds in our group did not like Camp Carnival. I think the lack of friendliness on the part of the employees as well as just not keeping the kids that entertained, made for a very lack luster experience. We found that if we wanted to motivate our girl's for behaving well, all we had to do was to threaten them with dropping them off at Camp Carnival for a few hours. It worked wonders! Luckily, we brought our baby sitter with us so we didn't have to rely on the camp. Good thing too, since they close everyday for an hour from 4-5 and the first night they weren't open at all for daycare. Additionally, they nickel and dime you with one PAID activity per day, to make a stuffed bear with your parent.
-Dining Room "Entertainment"-I wanted to throw our maitre 'd over the balcony! Sappy, over the top love songs, sung by a guy who can't sing. Terrible. All the passengers near us were making fun of him and plugging their ears. Even some of the crew members (waiters) were making fun of him. The kids were totally bored during dinner and dinner took 2 hours every night. Every night we would sit and hope that we'd be done with dinner before the singing started, but unfortunately it never happened.
-Overall Value: Cruising is still a good value though I don't like to "nickel and dimed" every chance I turn around. Extra money for some Camp Carnival activities, extra money for some of the entertainment, pop is not included, etc, etc. Next time we will choose another cruise line, probably Disney since ALL entertainment as well as juice and pop is included. Our charges on our sail and sign card were $1000 which included photo's, pop, alcohol, gift shop purchases and the spa. So, all together, we spent about $2500 for the three of us for our "budget" cruise. We did have a balcony stateroom which we really enjoyed but again, next time we will do a cruise that includes more for the money upfront.