My mom, Sister, daughter (1 year old) and myself have traveled quite a bit I have been on about 7 cruises and my Mom and sister have been on over 20 or so cruises so we have experienced quite a few different cruise lines and levels or service. To be honest I had my expectations pretty low for this cruise based on the previous reviews but must say I was pleasantly surprised! I found very little information on traveling with a toddler under 2 so I will also include any information that I thought might be helpful for those traveling with a young child.
Arrived at 11:00 and was on boat by noon. Ate lunch and walked around ship until about 1:00 when we checked to see if our room was ready and it was! We had an ocean view room which was very good size compared to some other cruises I have been on in the past. Bags were delivered by about 1:30-2:00.
Typical old school Carnival style decor it is not updated like some of the others. Still has not been updated with the water works water slides etc. But all in all was just fine.
Food-B- to C
1st night was not impressed with the menu at all. I decided to have the flank steak and boy was that a bad idea. NO Flavor what so ever and I am not extremely picky either. I heard the table next to me complaining about it also. The other nights it did seem to improve but I wouldn't say it was extraordinary. I also had a seafood pasta and it only had two shrimp and No seafood but our waiter Edward went and had a new one made and it was great!
I must admit I had excellent service all around on this cruise probably the best to date! I am not sure if it had to do with traveling with a toddler that turned One on the cruise but they all made our experience so wonderful. The dinning staff always made it a point to remember my name as well as my daughters they had her fruit waiting for her at the table so she didn't have to wait for her appetizer and would ever dance and sign with her I would say they went above and beyond! I read previously that others had bad experiences with the dining room and this was not the case for me possibly depends on which dining room you are in? We did eat in the other dining room Monet I believe it was called for breakfast and lunch and service was much slower and there seemed to be a disconnect. The only negatives I can say is the 1st night they really try to push the wine package-HARD, that was a bit annoying. Lastly the wine steward you have to ask for and he doesn't seem to come around often.
Our cruise was 105% occupied I believe that had to due with being Mardi Gras week/ School break. It was very hard to get a chair everyone seemed to wake up and put towels on the chair then didn't come back for hours. The rule is you can only have the towel on the chair for 30 minutes and then they will come around and take the towels off we didn't see them taking the towels off but I did see people call security because people claimed to have there chairs taken?
Seemed to be much less crowded but because I was traveling with a toddler I didn't experience it personally :(
we were last off and were fine with that just ate breakfast and tried to avoid the lines by 10am we were in line to get our bags. We had 6 bags and a baby and actually got a call today from the port saying we left one behind. They dont put all of the bags together so it is easy to miss one and they only had two bag handlers non of which helped us when we asked so needless to say we (3 smaller women) carried out a stroller, 6 bags and a baby. The whole process took about an hour and honestly the worse part was the waiting for my husband to pick us up the traffic was So bad outside the terminal we waited about an hour.
Traveling with a child under 2 years old-
Again I traveled with my daughter who is 1 years old. The "Free" Child Programs start at 2 years +. They do have the Club open for free play between 8-10am you can either play with your child during this time or pay $6.50 + 15% gratuity an hour and the staff with watch your child. I only used this morning service once because it was such an inconvenient time by the time we ate breakfast it barely gave her time to play. They also offer the night owl service which is after 10PM-3AM for the same additional charge I wish it was earlier maybe from 9 at least but what can you do? I did use this service for an hour or two each night the staff was great!
Under 2 are allowed to stay in the kids program from the time we arrive in port until noon if we arrive in the AM which we did for an additional charge. I also didn't use this service because it was to hard to come back and get her in the middle of the day.
Last minute I read some reviews on saying I should not bring my jogging stroller so I bought a mid size peg perego stroller in between umbrella and mid size. Thank god I did! My jogging stroller would never have fit in our door way. We used the stroller SO much she slept in it during the day and when she was at the kids club we also brought it on land on port days.
Children who are not potty trained are not allowed in pools and for me that was fine because I rarely go in so after reading several reviews I took there advice and ordered "Baby's 1st pool" on amazon it is a tiny pool that they can splash in and play with there toys its under $10 and worth every penny! It also doubled as a baby bath for the shower because it was difficult bathing her in the shower.
we did bring her on all of the excursions including the stingray tour where she swam and kissed the stingrays.
Overview of kids program under 1- I think we will look to go on another cruise possibly RCCL because they have the toy lending program and sitters in the room this would make packing much easier. Having to pack all of her diapers, toys, formula etc was not fun.