Starting at the beginning, the airport transfer was a bit confusing only because the cruise attendants at the airport did not provide adequate direction regarding the location of the ground transportation desk and there was no signage in ... Read More
Starting at the beginning, the airport transfer was a bit confusing only because the cruise attendants at the airport did not provide adequate direction regarding the location of the ground transportation desk and there was no signage in the airport. Once the transfer ticket was obtained, the bus ride and the embarkation process were comfortable, smooth and efficient. We were in our state room cabin within 15 minutes of arriving at the cruise terminal.
We found the balcony cabin (deck 7, not sure which category) to be very clean and fairly comfortable (the sofa left a bit to be desired), but the bed was comfortable and there was a huge amount of closet and storage space. As for the ship itself, it is nearly 20 years old, and in spite of a recent renovation, it is clear that maintenance is becoming a bit of an issue. We saw a few leaking pipes in the hallways, and some places on the ship such as the floor gutters outboard of the balcony were visibly rusting. The layout of the ship was a bit confusing, it was hard to traverse from the bow to stern without going up and down steps to various decks. This paragraph pretty much summarizes the negatives of the onboard experience.
As for the crew, it was without doubt the best crew of the five cruises my wife and I have taken. Everyone was friendly and helpful, and to the person they all called us by our first name. The Blue Iguana bar was our afternoon gathering place from about 4-5:00 PM. Giselle, Lizabeth, and Jose were friendly and fun. We made quite a few friends duing our week, so this became a very familar and fun place to gather. After cleaning up for dinner our next stop was the Alchemy Bar where Maria (supervisor), Mirosalav, and Parviz kept us "refreshed" and entertained. They are truly fun to watch, and they are true mixologists and entertainers.
Dinner in the dining room was a little mixed bag. Our table for two was located at a busy serving station so there was a lot of hustle and bustle, but our head waiter Andrew was wonderful and attentive. The food was very good to excellent. This ship has many eating options including pay to eat steakhouse, Asian, and Italian restaurants. We only ate dinner in the formal dining room. I would not recommend eating in the buffet/cafeteria. I would also strongly recommend requesting a specific dining time (early or late) and NOT use anytime seating as there was a wait for those passengers.
We only took one shore excursion on the trip. There was miscommunication regarding transportation to Maya Key which was a little aggravating, but the trip itself was worth it. Very quiet and secluded beach with excellent snorkeling and a very interesting wild animal "rescue" habitat exhibit.
I am not big on shows and entertainment, but we did go to the Motown review and I was very impressed. We also took in a show at the comedy club. The comedian was very funny and the ship puts on two versions of the same show, "R" and "PG". Based on the somewhat limited entertainment experience, the overall quality (including bar bands) was very good, and much more consistent than with other cruise lines. In retrospect we probably should have taken in one or two more shows because they were that good.
I have never been on a ship where the disembarkation process was as smooth as I would like, but getting 3,000 + people off a ship and through U.S. customs will never be but so quick. The experience was pretty good and Carnival did an excellent job managing the process. There is always a longer wait than I would prefer. Carnival did as good a job as any other cruise line I have experienced (Norwegian (never again), Princess, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity).
Overall I would rate the design/décor of the ship B+, the crew A+, maintenance B-, cleanliness A, Food A-, entertainment A, Alchemy Bar A+, outside bars A+, service A+. pool/deck A-. This was an excellent value for a decent ship and excellent service. Read Less