I realize there were 2,974 passengers aboard, each with a different experience. Some good, some bad.
Of the 20+ cruises we've been on, this has been the absolute worse dining experience. I'll attempt to address each aspect of the cruse separately.
Embarkation: We arrived at the terminal about 10:30, park in the deck. Luggage drop off a breeze. Parked and took the elevator to the check-in desk. Short wait, less than 15 minutes we were checked-in and ready to go. We boarded by zone, the little card they give you after check-in. We were Zone 4. As Zones were called folks got up very orderly and proceeded to the ship. Basically embarkation went very smooth.
Once aboard we proceeded to deck 9 for lunch, we sat, ate, and visited with the others in our group. About 1:30 it was announced cabins were ready. We proceeded to our cabin where surprisingly our first piece of luggage had arrived. My DW unpacked as that was her suitcase! We then headed off to explore. Found our assigned dining room. Was a bit surprised that none of the tables had been set. We asked where our table for eight would be located, we were told in the back corner, perfect!
We explored a bit more and headed back to the cabin. The second bag had arrived, I unpacked and we waited for the evacuation drill. The ship sailed on time.
Dining: We linked up with the rest of our party, shared the news about dining and set a time to meet. Upon arriving to the dining room, the Renoir, we were surprised to find our table at the very front, and it was only set for six. Elvis the Maitre D', said there was nothing he could do, however, we would be moved to the Monet the following night and would be seated at a table of eight away from the front entrance and desk. We settled to be seated at a table for two. Here is where the worse got worse. My wife and I were seated and greeted. Our table set for two, had one wine glass, which sat there the entire meal. No one asked if we wanted drinks. Our water glasses were filled and we were offered breads. That was last time water was filled and bread was offered. No other drinks were offered.
The other six were lucky enough to order a bottle of wine, three times, yet the wine never arrived! Needless to say the first night of dining was well less than expected.
Next night we arrive at the Monet, expecting full well that things were corrected. Our table for eight was set by the main entrance and Maitre D' desk. Obviously there was a disconnect about no seating by an entrance, bathroom, or kitchen. Just our rule regardless of where we eat. This time the Maitre D' Shane tells us he has no other tables and if we didn't like that table we could voice a complaint at the Services Desk.
At this point, our first formal night, I take things into my own hands. Shane and I have a discussion, mostly one way. Being a retired Infantry First Sergeant, I know how to take command of a situation. After probably twenty minutes a table is prepared for us. Not the best location, but satisfactory.
Service was okay. At least we got water and refills. Wine was ordered and received. Table settings were missing, but that was quickly rectified. Again we gave the wait staff the benefit of the doubt. But things never got much better.
The following day I went to the Services Desk and requested to speak with the Dining Room Manager. To my surprise Shane shows up and announces "he is" the dining room managers for the entire ship. I still have my doubts. At any rate, he gave his promise that from the third night on we would have a memorable dining experience and that he would assign his assistant Maitre D' to oversee our table. Well we never saw the guy.
I could write volumes about dining, but I'll spare you. Again, just because you had a great dining experience doesn't mean we did. Breakfast was probably their best foot forward. However, we had to ask for spoons for our coffee. Our coffee cups were set on bread plates rather than saucers (I'm being picky here), had to ask for coffee refills, but overall breakfast was good. No comment on lunch.
Food more times than not was at best warm. Ordered salmon one night, arrived to table very undercooked and cold. Baked potato did not melt butter, I call that cold. Had to ask for iced tea and bread every night. Dining staff had no clue.
The wait staff were rude overall. While entering or exiting the dining room, wait staff stepped out in front of you, would stand there and not move, and most evenings we were not even greeted.
Again, for those of you that had a terrific experience, fantastic, that's how it's supposed to be. For the most part, I seldom complain, honest, read the reviews I've written, I am very fair. But this cruise was so bad.
On a bright dining note. Spend the $30 per person and treat yourself to a wonderful dining experience in the Point Steakhouse. I can honestly say, the Point is on the same level as any of the other cruise line specialty restaurants and one of our best specialty restaurant experiences. The service, the food, and OMG the desserts were absolutely impeccable.
I have concluded that terrible service for traditional diners is a ploy for us to accept anytime dining.
Cabin: Cabin stewards were great. Beds were comfortable and the cabin was quite spacious. The bathroom was probably one of the largest we've had. No complaints about cabin at all.
General Comments: Casino bar and service, great. Activities aboard, numerous enough for all to enjoy something. Cleanliness of ship, acceptable. Not sure how to address the masking tape holding the veneer on the wall at the Monet Dining room or the leak in the ceiling outside the Monet.
Friendliness of overall crew and officers, fair teetering on poor. Sushi Bar, great. Pizza corner, great. Buffet, okay. Phil's Deli, probably the best food aboard, aside from the Point.
One thing I did find appalling, in the Cezanne, Lido buffet, people walking through and up to buffet lines without shirts. Ships staff standing there and never asked them to leave. Absolutely no excuse for that.
Disembarkation: A joke. We chose Self Assist. We reported to the theater as instructed. Were told to sit until given clearance. We were told we would exit in the order we arrived. LOL, when the announcement was made that we could proceed to the gangway, it was total chaos. The entire theater stood and a traffic jam ensued! All in all, we were off the ship and on the road by 7:45.
Bottom Line: Did our dining experience ruin our cruise, no. However, think about it, the dining experience is one of the most memorable. Overall the ship was acceptably clean. I try always to consider how clean our house would be if we had 2,974 people walking through each week of the year.
Will we sail Carnival again, astoundingly no. Too many other lines to choose from. Carnival may have a ship named Magic, but that's where their cruising magic ends for me.
Sorry that I've rambled and I apologize for a less than shining review. I have to call it the way I see it.