A group of 12 booked this cruise to celebrate Jimmy's 75th birthday. The cruise was picked for it's ports of call and zip lining on two islands. We had great cabins two decks above the aft dining room.
Embarkation was surprisingly fast. We were the only ship in port. The ship was full and not many children. The layout of this Finnish built ship is far superior than the Italian made ones where you have to go up or down a deck to pass from bow to stern. The ship is typically "Carnival Gaudy". The dining room is a site to behold. Everything is over the top as usual.
We tipped the cabin steward within the first hour and he doted on us the entire week. Leny was good. Our waitress, NuNu from Indonesia was wonderful. We had her hugging us every day when we arrived. The hostess, Tristina, went out of her way for us too, caring about special menus for those with allergies. They both got extra cash tips from us too. The CD was Malcolm and he did a fine job. I do however get a little tired of the staff telling you that you're having a great time so give another big cheer. The gym was well equipped.
The entertainment was surprisingly good. The production shows were wonderful. So much for Gaylord Entertainment and other third parties. The two Carnival production shows were better than many we've seen at sea. The individual acts were good too. The ventriloquist was much better in the last half of his act and Bob Brizendine, the "magician" from Cocoa Beach, FL. was very very funny. St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Kitts were good ports for our private excursions. Those parts of the cruise we loved.
The 12 of us showed up for Quest (a very popular must see event on RCCL) and no one else showed up. The new LCD TVs are small and slow to respond. What we didn't like was the food. NuNu had warned us on day one that if we didn't like anything, she'd sent it back or we could pick something else. That alone is a bad omen. The food was pretty poor in the dining room and almost awful in the Lido Buffet. The only good dining room dinner was ChateauBriand, a small filet. Some in our group only got half way through the meal when they decided to have two desserts instead. The desserts were much better. The Buffet for breakfast and lunch was very poor quality. Powdered eggs in the morning, leather bacon, frozen bagels, even the orange juice was half water. The only beverage is lemonade, iced tea and coffee, no juice. Ran out of bananas half way through the cruise. Our last cruise on the Carnival Dream 3 years ago was about the same but this time, even having breakfast in the dining room was only moderately better than the buffet.
We ate in the alternate dining room, Nick & Nora's Steakhouse, on the last night and it was top notch. Finally, real Lobster. One day we pre-ordered Continental Breakfast to our cabin (very poor selection - nothing hot) and it never showed up. Took a phone call and 20 more minutes for them to get it to us. Arranged for a group photo of the 12 of us, the photographer didn't show up. Lounge chair hogs are a constant problem on a full ship. Expensive drinks and photos too.
There were 99 Cruise Critics on the ship but only 28 showed up at our much-publicized Sail Away Party. ??? Still we made new CC friends. Guess we'll have to stick with RCCL and X for better service and food. We probably would NOT book Carnival again even though this is my 5th Carnival cruise.