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92 Carnival Spa Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise to celebrate a Birthday and our Anniversary. We have cruised this trip on 4 other occasions. We are platinum cruisers with Carnival and have been on many cruises. This cruise tops our "favorite" list. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to celebrate a Birthday and our Anniversary. We have cruised this trip on 4 other occasions. We are platinum cruisers with Carnival and have been on many cruises. This cruise tops our "favorite" list. (Not the destination, but the cruise). We normally find ourselves drinking more than we normally do and come home exhausted. This cruise, we decided to pamper ourselves the entire cruise. We had a balcony suite on the Spa Level. It was awesome. We spent 90% of our time at the spa. We had the couples bamboo and hot stone massage, a facial, the men's shaving treatment/haircut/foot and leg massage, teeth whitening and even hired a personal trainer while on board. The Physian, Dr. Olachea, Spa Manager and all of the Spa Staff, Elina, Victoria, Megan, Oliva, Kate and many more, were the best we have ever experienced on a Carnival Cruise. I have a fractured heel, due to a running injury. Kate, the Personal Trainer put together workouts that were customized to my injury, still providing a great and challenging workout. They always made us feel "important" and treated us like Kings. We had to walk by the Spa door every time we left or came to our cabin. They always waved and were very friendly. We had the flexible dining schedule. Our waiter was the best we have had on a cruise as well. His name was Roger. He had 2 other young ladies working with him and they were awesome as well. Our room steward was great and very attentive. We did not visit the bars often, but when we did, they were always friendly. As far as the entertainment, it was average. We did partake in the casino (slot tournament) twice. The 2 female staff members that were in charge of the tournament were great also and very entertaining. The process gaining access to the ship was quick and efficient. The process departing the ship was quick and efficient as well. This was an excellent experience. We wish we could have this entire staff on every cruise that we take. In all the cruised that we have taken, we have never submitted a review, not that the trips were bad, but the trips in the past never really stuck out in our minds. We have never had any issues with Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We have cruised 17 times and only once with Carnival. We were a bit hesitant when we booked with Carnival but we did it because we liked the 8 day cruise with only three stops Aruba, Curacau and Grand Turk The boarding process could use ... Read More
We have cruised 17 times and only once with Carnival. We were a bit hesitant when we booked with Carnival but we did it because we liked the 8 day cruise with only three stops Aruba, Curacau and Grand Turk The boarding process could use some work as it was crowded and confusing and took around an hour. We even took their advise and waited until 12:30 to arrive. Big Mistake! Wait later. Those that got there earlier waited longer. Not a good start to the cruise. Once on board things improved dramatically. We had a spa balcony room on the 12th floor and it was accessible upon arrival. Bags showed up within a couple of hours. Nice room with a good size bathroom and decent balcony. We are used to sliding doors to the balcony so we can open them and listen To the ocean but these are doors that close automatically but it was a minor issue. Not too difficult to find your way around the ship. Lots of working elevators Cloud 9 SPA was decent but doesn't compare to others offered by NCL and RC. As for the Serenity the Adults only area - don't waste your time trying to find a place as every piece of furniture had a flip flop or a bag or a towel on to reserve the spot. Only got to spend an hour up there one afternoon during the stop at Grand Turk FOOD - we had early seating at 6:00 PM and ended up at a table for 10. So it was us and 4 other couples and I must say we all. Hit it off so well that we were the last ones to leave the dining room most evening. As for the food if was Ok - really nothing spectacular or memorable and it really didn't change much from night to night. I tried four different times to get reservations at the steakhouse and could never get one. It worked out fine because we were enjoying the company of our new cruise friends. The burgers were amazing at Guy Fieri's - always a line but well worth the wait. The barbeque was good as well SHOWS- nothing much here. Not of the same caliber as NCL and RC or Princess. Comedians were not very good either. ENTERTAINMENT- We did enjoy the Piano Bar quite a bit. The later in the evening the funnier it became. The cruise team did a decent job. We were a bit disappointed that the dance club was rarely opened and when it was it was late late late in the evening. ISLANDS - we love Aruba and a tour of the island with a stop at the beach for a couple of hours was perfect. We booked the evening sunset cocktail cruise excursion thinking it was be romantic and peaceful only to discover once aboard it was very casual with lots and lots of drinks included. Curacau is a beatiful island as well with lots to do within walking distance of the ship Grand Turk in our opinion is really the Carnival private island. Not much to do except drink or lay on the beach which was ok by us. You can see the entire island from the top of the ship OVERALL - we were quite surprised with the service and the friendly people on board. We really had an enjoyable time and would consider booking with Carnival again especially if we new that our new cruise friends were booking with them as well.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale Fla. We stayed at the Bahia Mar By Hilton, loved it will stay there again in March for our next cruise. Got a shuttle from the hotel to port. We did not have fast to fun and waited a little to get on ship. ... Read More
We sailed out of Fort Lauderdale Fla. We stayed at the Bahia Mar By Hilton, loved it will stay there again in March for our next cruise. Got a shuttle from the hotel to port. We did not have fast to fun and waited a little to get on ship. We were on ship by around 12:30. We went to the buffet and had sandwiches from the Deli, they were really good. There is a very nice girl that works there and makes good deli sandwiches her name is Laelah. By the time we were done eating our room was ready. We were in room 1108. Very nice room, it was next to spa so very quiet. Checked out spa, it is a bit dated but used the sauna's everyday. Our room stewardess Shiela was very nice and did a good job. I really like the layout of the ship as it is not a huge ship and you could find your way around very nicely. Food on board..... We had anytime dinning and it was very nice. We got a wait team the 1st night of Karnita our head waiter and loved them. We asked for them at Breakfast, brunch and every dinner we had in the dinning room. They were the best. All of the meals in the dinning room were great, good choices taste good. We also ate at the steak house one night it was really good, worth the money. The highlight of our cruise was the Chef's table, the chef Biju Jacab was warm and very good at what he does. The meal was wonderful, we would do this again. Nice point was the every time chef saw us he asked how everything was. A must for lunch is Guys, loved it! Entertainment... first I want to say we loved the cruise director Mike, he was always around and very funny! We did not go to any of the production shows. But the comedian was very good. And the band that played in the lobby was so much fun. The lead singer Shelly was great! We went to the adult pool area and it was nice. The casino was nice we used it at night, and sometimes in morning when there was not as much smoke and less people. I would say that I would go on the Conquest again, very nice ship with a great crew. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
This is the first review I have ever written. We have sailed on Carnival 31 times and this was a big disappointment. We primarily went on this ship for Cloud 9 Spa. We have something to compare it to because we were on the Dream and the ... Read More
This is the first review I have ever written. We have sailed on Carnival 31 times and this was a big disappointment. We primarily went on this ship for Cloud 9 Spa. We have something to compare it to because we were on the Dream and the Breeze Cloud 9 Spa class. We thought we would try the Sunshine because of the new Spa... what a mistake, it was shy of everything. No thermal pool, inadequate steam room, showers were outside the bathroom area instead of inside. They did have a rain shower with lousy shower heads. The Fahrenheit restaurant was $35.00 a person plus tip and we were celebrating our son-in-laws 40th birthday, they were told and never even mentioned it. People were in there with shorts, t-shirts and sandals. We were dressed up and felt like we were in Denny's. There were no table clothes and the waiter tried to tell us how to order our steaks and the lobster meal was in 3 little finger pieces. For surf'n turf the steak was 1" x 2" and burnt and we ordered it rare. They did not serve everyone at the same time and they did not even know how to serve a $200.00 bottle of wine but they knew how to charge us $18.00 for the corkage fee. The meal experience was a disaster and a very expensive one. We mentioned it to the Food and Beverage Manager and he seemed to be very concerned and sent us a bottle of wine. As far as the Lido food is concerned, everything is the same very repetitive seemed like it was always made from left-overs and extremely, over the top, salty. The food was also very greasy. Our ankles and hands were swollen on the whole trip. This is the first time this has happened to us in 55 cruises. The dining room service was good because we had a good waiter Nilson. However, his assistant was very sick and then she was off for 2 days and came back still sick and coughing, needless to say, we caught her cold, all 4 of us. She should have never been on the floor serving food. Carnival's food has really gone down hill in quality and quantity. There was a time when Carnival had the best food, it has really changed for the worse. The ice cream is ice milk and the pastries are now of a very low quality... they have cheapened everything everywhere you look.We also had to beg for soap in our Room 12011, room stewart was on the aggressive side, not a comfortable situation. He said he was only supposed to give it out on the first day only until we questioned him as we know better from being on the Breeze and Dream then he said he would do it just for us as a favor. I should have never of tipped him. No ice bucket lid until we asked for it 2 days later in the room. He kept putting the long decorated pillows on the floor at night and then on the bed during the day they need a little more training on cleanliness. My advise to everyone, always bring a can of Lysol spray. We will have to think twice about going back to Carnival. We just got off another ship Holland America Zuiderdam and there is such a big difference and that is why I wrote this review. There was a tremendous comparison. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on ... Read More
We surprised our grand daughters (whom we are raising) with this as their Christmas present! Emma, age 16 and MC age 8 were ecstatic! We were on our 25th cruise, but only the third with Carnival. Years ago, we went on two short cruises on Carnival's older, smaller ships, and were not impressed by comparison to the Royal Caribbean and Princess cruises we had previously gone on. BUT, since the four of us could drive, thus savings $$$ in airfare, and because the Dream was so much larger and newer, we thought we'd give it a try. We had a great time, the girls loved their various activities, MC wanted to go to Camp Carnival every day. Emma was shy about going to Club O2 by herself the first night, but then met a few kids, and they ran around together in a pack all week. We had a very good cabin steward, he was in there at least twice daily, keeping the ice bucket filled, bringing us fresh beach towels, robes, and anything else we requested. Our main dining room servers were super friendly, remembering us by name each night. The food was typical cruise ship quality, mostly very good with a few exceptions each night. We were surpised to see that Carnival still serves lobster and escargot, and some other "fancy" foods that some of the lines had cut out. We dined one night at the Chef's Table steakhouse, and it was superb. Emma ordered lobster and it came with not one, but three tails! The desserts were to die for. We thought the production shows were good, but not over the top. The dancers were talented, the male singer was quite good, female just OK. And, yes, "family friendly" is a matter of opinion...a lot of sexy dancing in very skimpy costumes. The entertainment around the ship was sub-par, the singers in the atrium were pretty terrible and they were LOUD. We didn't care for the comedian either. I don't understand why, what with all the fantastic talent out there, the cruise line would hire such marginal acts. We did Faster to the Fun, and would do it again...for 50.00 for the whole group it makes embarkation a whole lot easier, and, on the last night, we went down to guest services and there were about 30 people in line but the FTTF line had only two ahead of us. There was a lot of smoking on this ship, the whole deck five around the casino area reeked of it. The kids loved the water slides, the mini golf, and we all watched a "Dive'In" movie, that was pretty special! All in all, a good cruise for our family, but if it was just the two of us, Carnival would not be my pick. This ship was VERY crowded and we like a more elegant atmosphere. (They actually announced in the dining room, that, on "elegant" night, men were not allowed to wear flip flops and wife-beaters, and no ball caps!) One other tip: If you are driving to the port, park at the Fulton Street garage, it was less than half of the price of the one at the port! It is only two blocks away, and they have a shuttle bus with porters to help with your luggage.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
We have cruised the Carnival several times and have never been disappointed....until this time...We were on a New Years cruise and it didn't go as planned. First place, the kids totally took over the ship all the pools, hot tubs, ... Read More
We have cruised the Carnival several times and have never been disappointed....until this time...We were on a New Years cruise and it didn't go as planned. First place, the kids totally took over the ship all the pools, hot tubs, dining rooms, buffet. I love kids and Carnival has always had lots of them but not under foot 24/7...That was the first disappointment...We have cruised summers and holidays and have never seen it this bad. Evidently the kids activities were not being used. Second was the spa...We always get aleast one massage or service. Booked the couples massage..They were running 45 mines late which made us late to dinner. .The room was noisy, and the plumbing pipes were gurgling thru the whole time. Not a relaxing massage. And after we got home and checked the bill, they over charged us. Then went to get into a hot tubs, full of kids and water not circulating and was cold. We had convinced brother and sister in law to come too and this was their first cruise. We wanted to make cruisers out of them. We spent the whole time making excuses for how things were...... We had already booked the 12 day on this same ship in March and not looking forward to this ship...... Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a ... Read More
I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a stranger in a strange land. I’m not Texan. I don’t like country music. I have no tolerance for children running around in my vicinity. I don’t even like frozen sweet tropical drinks or mass-produced American beers. This August my in-laws invited my spouse and me to join them for a 7 night cruise on the Carnival Magic in mid November. They are in their late Seventies. This was an invitation I couldn’t pass up. Spending time with parents is a limited commodity as we get older. I did a lot of research mostly at Cruise Critic to find out how to maximize the potential with what could have been a disastrously disappointing experience. It completely paid off. This cruise converted me to a Carnival aficionado, and now I’ve caught the cruise bug. My experience on the Magic for the Eastern Caribbean itinerary wasn’t only incredibly luxurious, despite some minor nits, it was ‘magical.’ The Ship This liner is very large, accommodating nearly 3700 passengers with 15 decks. However, the common areas where I found myself were never overcrowded. The décor of the ship is sort of an Eighties rainbow tropical mash up. It’s a little Vegas, but not in bad taste. The strobing lights in the lobby, hallways, and Ocean plaza were pretty. There are so many areas to explore, I was discovering new venues even on the last day. Deck 5 has a wide Lanai which circles the entire ship--a fabulous opportunity for some walking exercise and some sea spray. I found myself meeting others in the Ocean plaza on deck five for trivia games. This was the same venue for live entertainment at other times on the ship. It opens onto a special zone on the Lanai, which was one of the few areas of the ship where smokers were welcome. An occasional waft of smoke was the price to pay if one sits here because the automatic doors open often to the outside of the ship. As for smoking in general, the ship was very clean. However, it is allowed in the casino, which is unavoidable, since it takes up the entire midship of the promenade, deck 5. Frankly, the casino stunk of cigarette smoke. I’m not much for gambling, but there was a Carnival Player’s Club event for my cruise which had the casino buzzing with a lot of activity. I hear the odds are very bad at sea relative to land casinos, but someone won $2500 and a free cruise there. The sports deck on 12 had a lot of family activity toward the aft of the ship with a full sized basketball court, mini golf, foosball, ping pong, outdoor exercise equipment, the ropes course (which looked fun but never got the chance to try), and the waterworks area with two different large water slides, a big soaker bucket and two smaller slides. I never lounged around the two pools on deck 10, the Lido, where the majority of activity was centered. There were always chairs available, but the area was too crowded for me. I noticed one in the aft pool one morning all by herself. Mornings might be the best time to avoid crowds for taking a dip. The hot tubs tended to be bustling with groups of 4 to 6 sipping frozen tropical drinks and buckets of beer. There are 8 public hot tubs on the ship: two in the adults-only Serenity area, two on the Lido at the aft pool, and 4 on the Lanai around the ship. I suspect that the Lanai hot tubs were used less frequently because they were a little out of the way of most ship cruiser traffic. However, I was happy with my Thalassotherapy spa where it was always quieter. One night I saw a couple drinking beer in the spa hot tub. I was surprised that the Spa attendants didn’t say anything. I’d liken this behavior to smoking weed during yoga—gauche. The Serenity area is large, with aqua cushions on chaises, round loungers big enough for two, hammocks, and shaded seating. There was also a separate bar with seats for about 12. A waiter strolled the area to take drink orders. This was my deck hang out. Our weather was overcast with quite a bit of overnight rain, and Serenity was practically deserted. There were also a couple of smaller areas on the Sun Deck one deck below just aft of the Serenity flanking the Waterworks which had comfy chairs and great sea views. Faster To The Fun A $49 upgrade from the base fare per cabin gave us some premium level benefits only otherwise afforded to Platinum and Diamond cruisers with 10+ cruises on Carnival. If you can snag one of these, offered as an excursion, I couldn’t recommend them enough. It starts with special luggage tags that cue the embarkation port attendants to expedite your luggage to your room. They asked us to march straight to the front of the line where they had separate embarkation agents checking our IDs and medical affidavits before we got our Sign and Sail cards. FTF does not give you access to the premium lounge, however. We were considered priority boarding and got on in this order: wedding parties, diamond, platinum VIFP groups, suites, Carnival Players Club, FTF, then in the numbered boarding groups by zone. From luggage drop off to boarding was about 30 minutes, as we arrived around 10:30A. Upon boarding, our cabins were already cleaned and ready for us to drop off our carry-ons. We had finished lunch before more than half of the people had boarded. By the time we were done with lunch, our luggage was in our rooms. We were first to debark as well, after the self-service cruisers who carried all of their luggage. FTF gives you access to a separate window with no line and priority attention at guest services which I used to quickly clear up a question about my account and get the tender for in Belize. I’m not sure, but it may have helped with my specialty dining reservations and request for Any Time Dining. In any case, it helped to avoid many more lines, which do not please me. The Spa The Cloud 9 spa is actually on two decks, the fitness center, locker room and saunas on 12, and with thermal suites and treatment rooms on 14. I loved the proximity to the gym from the balcony on 11. I could take a private elevator between 11 and all the way up to the Serenity deck on 15. I spent multiple mornings on the LifeFitness elliptical trainer gazing out to sea. Spa amenities also gave me two free yoga / Pilates classes which were not absolutely conveniently timed, but I did make one yoga class. There were 5 of us in that class led by an enthusiastic Aussie Kevin who was great. I also went to a fee-based ($15) spin class with Kevin (only three people in that class!) and burned serious calories as well as learned a few tricks to take back to the gym at home for spinning. On port days, the ship offers free morning stretch classes for all cruisers. I participated in a couple of those as well. They were more like Yoga-lite and perfectly adequate. There were never more than 6 people in these classes. Fitness wise, it was like we had private lessons. The thermal suites are a little piece of heaven! Don your bathing suit, put on your upgraded Cloud 9 bathrobe, and if you’re like me, try to stuff your size 13 foot into a size 8 slipper (they’re too small!), and take a trip to Nirvana. The medium warm tepidarium has six tiled, heated chaise lounges with a gorgeous private view of the sea. Just next to it was the warmer laconium, with two heated chaises and a wall of heated benches across the back. There are two separate steam baths: the oriental with a spicy herbal scent to it and the even warmer aroma steam bath which features menthol and eucalyptus in the air. None of these rooms ever had more than 4 people in them. It was so peaceful. Just around the corner from here is another semi private multi-head shower with color therapy. I probably spent the most time in the covered Thalassotherapy pool which amply fit about eleven people, but never exceeded about 6. There’s a long underwater chaise which maximizes the jets against the backs and the legs. The jets pushed me off the chaise they were so powerful. At the end of the pool there were two power showers which felt great to pour down against my shoulders and back. All of the spa facilities are available from 8AM – 10PM daily. Some nights I stole away just before retiring to catch some relaxation in that hot tub. I developed some strong shoulder pain that no ibuprofen would allay during the trip, so I considered a ’la carte spa services. I opted for a $129 special (don’t forget the automatic 15% tip surcharge) on day five that included exfoliation, hot stone back, neck, shoulder and scalp massage and a facial in 75 minutes of treatment. This was actually a good deal, and much cheaper than my initial recommended course. Having read the warnings about the hard product sell after treatments, I printed clearly on my intake form that I didn’t want any products. My very nice technician told me after I was finished that this made her feel sad and still pushed a face wash, scrub and mask on me. I eventually caved for the wash and scrub at an additional $77. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to these services. The reason they include so many services in one package is that it gives them an opportunity to sell you exfoliator, shampoo/scalp, massage, facial, and even a very pricey detox program. The facial was good and so was the back massage. As a point of reference, at first I told them about my shoulder pain and they recommended acupuncture. These treatments are $150 a piece, and the specialist recommended 5 sessions at a $150 discount of $600. $pendy. I was also curious about the Botox / Dysport treatments on the ship so I consulted with the ship’s doctor day one about my crow’s feet (~$350). She recommended a total brow lift across my “much worse” forehead (~$450) and midbrow (~$350) for a discounted price of $800 if I booked them all together. These also included free touch ups during the cruise. I don’t know if this is a good deal, but it was definitely beyond my budget. The food There’s more food on this ship than anyone can eat, but I tried. :) The Prime Steakhouse I started out with a reservation on night one made well in advance at the Prime Steakhouse which included a free bottle of wine for our table of four. We tried to get another bottle saying that we were two cabins, but they balked. The free wine is passable, not the best. However, it was free and I love that price! I savored this intimate, upscale restaurant ($35 upcharge) which seats about 80 people. The service was extremely professional, from the chummy bartender at the entrance to the friendly wait staff. The nights began with a cocktail at the very small bar at the front of the restaurant. The absolutely charming Gabriela from Hungary took sweet care of us for my standard classic Crown Royal Manhattan on the rocks (she sought out Angostura bitters to finish the drink for me personally) and a Hendricks gin martini up for the husband. Both of these call brand cocktails come in at under $10. I’m used to $14 cocktails in the bars in Chicago, so the prices were reasonable to me. We got to know Gabriela, and she recognized us by name. This bar was so nice; we had pre-prandial cocktails there on four evenings. It made me feel like I was the only person on the ship for a swank, intimate encounter. We enjoyed the ambiance and food at the Prime Steakhouse so much, we ate there twice. The evening begins with an amuse bouche. We sampled the tomato water, the lobster carpaccio, and crab croquettes. The croquettes stood out. Appetizers and sides were also delicious, from the giant shrimp cocktail to the rich, earthy lobster bisque to the excellent tuna tartar to the surprisingly airy escargot puffs with amazing dipping sauce. The crab cake was so good! It’s just a whole head and shoulders above the absolutely fine crab cake appetizer in the MDR. As for salads, I loved my beefsteak tomato and blue cheese salad, but the Caesar salad could have been better. It was served traditional, whole romaine leaf style with a thick dressing. It’s better than the one they serve in the MDR which tended to be small and underdressed, but doesn’t match the finishing and detail of so many of the other menu items in the steakhouse. The spinach salad was ample, competent, and tasty. The first night was rife with beef, and I tried the 5 spice rubbed bone-in 18 oz. hangar steak. The prime meat was grilled perfectly and seriously too big. Dear father in law loved his 9 oz. filet mignon. “One of the best I’ve ever eaten,” he remarked. A more petit filet comes with the surf and turf. The hubby got the lamb chops. This was the biggest serving of lamb chops I’ve ever seen. It also included perfectly succulent lamb loin medallions if the three giant chops aren’t enough. The second time we went back for two only and focused only on fish and shellfish. We were still blown away with quality. Evidently, so was the staff. This Thursday evening, a formal night in the MDR, the restaurant filled with officers of the ship, including the cruise director, the shopping expert, and surprisingly, a table of the captain and his senior crewmen ship in their very fancy black jackets with epaulets and gold braids. Needless to say, I felt like a VIP sitting next to them. Unfortunately, we didn’t chat because their entire conversation was in Italian! On my second visit, entrée choices were sea bass and lobster tail for us. Perfectly cooked. Absolutely delectable. Note that they only have one size of large lobster tail in the steakhouse: 7 oz. It’s split for a surf and turf and three halves are served for the lobster tail entrée. Sides are unremarkable, unfortunately. We tried the large portion of plain steamed broccoli, basic baked potato with nice side dish of bacon, butter, and sour cream, horseradish whipped potatoes which were just a bit too creamy for my taste, and the strange creamed spinach which consisted of steamed spinach leaves with garlic cream poured on top of them. I actually prefer Boston Market on this one! One standout side was the plain sautéed button mushrooms. These are hard to beat. Desserts were gigantic and amazing from the rich, tall cheesecake which easily feeds three to the chocolate sampler in four tasting portions. Two standouts were the decadent, caramelized apples in a puff pastry dome for which my server announced was the best thing on their menu. Don’t underestimate the cheese course, either. It was chock full of very high quality cheeses: French brie, St. Andre (crazy stinky), Roquefort, aged gouda, almonds, water crackers and a perfect little cluster of grapes. This alone would cost $15-$20 at any fine restaurant. I must not forget the bread choices: rosemary focaccia or a delicious little brioche roll. They’re served with a trio of smears including butter, tomato relish and eggplant relish. Bottom line, this place is near perfect. Another couple we met on the ship told us the same story: they were so blown away with the place, they came back twice. I want to share a final note about reservations in the steakhouse. If you use the reservation system, it may seem full and sometimes hard to get a table. My experience, however, was that it was often not full by more than half. My suspicion is that people make the reservations and then forget to cancel, for which there’s no penalty. Because of this, we arrived 45 minutes early the second night expecting to have a cocktail before dinner and we were seated almost right away. We also saw people coming into the restaurant and being seated without reservations. Words to the wiser! The Chef’s Table I was very pleasantly surprised by the sheer artistry of the Chef’s Table. I’m also happy to report that we experienced a new, third menu for this dinner. I reserved well in advance of the cruise by about 6 weeks through the Steakhouse mcsteakhouse@carnival.com. At our seating, there were 16 cruisers participating. I was told that this was the second offering on this ship this cruise and that because of demand they may have expanded to up to four evenings. In other words, Carnival accommodates for this special event. We met early in the evening at 6:15 in the piano lounge for four appetizers. The pre-dinner event was moved from the Vibe nightclub due to a conflict. A tall stem of champagne accompanied what began a culinary journey which lasted almost three hours. The chef de cuisine and three of his white-toqued sous brought us delectable little bites including an unusual mango sphere which resembled an egg yolk made possible by molecular gastronomy techniques on a savory rosemary cracker. The standout amuses were the salmon tartar mini hand roll and the double crusted lamb meat balls. The third beef carpaccio on air pillow was wild. It looked like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. This is a theme for the dinner: presentations are spectacularly adventurous. Chefs and his assistants explain everything and answer any questions. You’ll feel pampered. From the lounge, we marched into the galley. It’s a clean machine of efficiency and volume. About halfway in, we found ourselves at a white table clothed table with fine china and stemware. Our host, the chef de cuisine was warm and animated. I found my place card with a scrolled personalized menu for the evening featuring a ribbon with a star anise closure. The bread presentation then came with savory thin crisps separating brioche curls with caramelized onions and herbs. Three surprises flank the end of the bread board: a roasted garlic clove, and two different cherry tomatoes which were delicious. I’ve never eaten any tomatoes prepared this way. They were unusual in that they looked raw but were somehow cooked. They were like a little bite of magic. Red or white wine flowed freely at the table, a 2013 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio or a McGuigan Bin Series Merlot, both about $10 a bottle in retail stores. We began the seven course journey with a gorgeous, multilayered beet ‘blanket’ served with a grape tea. Many of the courses are served with separate finishing pours and this was the first of them. This course was beautiful! Diners would be served simultaneously. During every course, the assistants or the Chef himself would crouch down to the table to ensure that everything was to our liking. Next was a delectable crab salad served on a polenta cracker with passion fruit caviar, another gastronomy trick. The duck textures, basically duck two-ways, was delicate with the creamy quinoa and parmesan churros. Probably the most spectacular presentation was the Bisque our way, where two separate tomato soups are poured simultaneously into the plate with a ‘log’ of whipped cream and herbs separating them. Wow. We then stopped and took a tour through the service area where we learned some amazing facts about the kitchen and food preparation on the ship from the Chef. He explained that for a one week cruise, he will order $450,000 worth of food to be delivered in Galveston. They prepare 4000 meals for the brunches and dinners in the MDRs per day! He showed us a computer screen which shows a grid of every order to be completed in real time during the dinner with color coding for modifiers like temperature for steaks. We paraded by stations where we learned that for safety, there are no flames at all in the kitchen. All food, even the grilled steaks are made with on water-heated grills. We saw how each entrée on the menu has a picture at the completion station to cue the assistants on presentations. We then stopped by the pastry area of the kitchen where we met the head pastry chef. He gave us the recipe for Carnival’s signature warm melting cake and demonstrated the preparation. Basically a custardy soufflé of eggs, sugar, butter, cocoa and flour, I discovered the real secret to this dessert: Felchlin Lucerne 44% fine Swiss cocoa powder. They prepare 1450 of these every night. We next marched back to the table where we were greeted with a close up magician who entertained the table with two illusions, one at each end. This was just delightful. The sea bass with fried pop corn pudding, savory lemon macaron, and lobster foam was another winner as the next course. The Wagyu beef short rib with bone marrow soufflé and gremolata crisp was finished with a flourish of demi glace. It was rich and succulent. Finally, we ended with a tapestry plate of sea salt praline chocolate, raspberry, key lime cake, another sweet macaron, and apricot vanilla gel. Just amazing. By now, our group photos were ready and each of us got a picture of the Chef’s Table and participants. We got to know some very nice and interesting people at this meal. Attire was evening casual with a mix of jackets and ties, but plenty of polos and collared shirts for the men. Women as a group looked very nice, but there were no gowns nor sequins. These conventions are an artifact of the past. The Chef stood for pictures with people and the end of the event. Before I booked the Chef’s Table, I had read that this multi-course menu may not approach the finest five star restaurants in large cities. That is NOT the case. This food is a tour-de-force of techniques, ingredients, and presentations. The synchronized service is near perfect. With the champagne, unlimited wine, entertainment, intermezzos, and complimentary photograph, the value is unprecedented. If you’re adventurous or a foodie, it’s a must! Cuchina Del Capitano I never had a chance to try this restaurant in the evening when there is a $15 surcharge. I did however, love it for lunch. Even better, you’ll get quasi table service with an excellent, limited food menu. At lunch, I’d walk up the stairs and visit the hostess who’d assign my party a number and individual ordering menus which are filled out and dropped off at the kitchen. You find any open table, fill your order and wait a short time for your food. The ambience was like a little Italian village. Like most of my favorite places on the Magic, it seemed like a hidden gem. The décor is quaint, and it was never crowded. Honestly, the lunch service was a little slow here. There was also a wait to get an alcoholic drink ordered and delivered. If you order a beer with lunch, which is great because they offer Peroni and Moretti in the Cuchina, they have to get a bar waiter from downstairs to come up. A minor gripe. It’s a cruise! Who’s on a timetable? The limited menu consists of salad, bread, made to order pasta and a spectacular lasagna. Salad and bread were just okay, kind of plain. The made to order pasta, for which you could choose your pasta type: penne, linguini, farfalle; sauce: marinara, Bolognese, red clam, or alfredo (fancy patrons were ordering ‘pink’ sauce, which is a mix of the marinara and the alfredo), and then a nice assortment of vegetables, chicken, or shrimp. My farfalle with marinara, vegetables and shrimp was very delicious. The lasagna is in a class by itself. A generous portion of layered pasta sheets, it included layers of spinach, eggplant planks, and whole chunks of braised beef underneath bubble, melted cheese. This should probably be illegal it’s so good. I wanted to try the arancini, but alas! They’re only available at dinner. Even one evening when the Cuchina’s cuisine was featured at the taste bar, there were none to be had. I guess there’s always a next time… The Red Frog Pub On the Lanai deck right next to the Vibe nightclub sits a large Caribbean style l-shaped pub with convenient outdoor seating on deck. This lively, warm venue featured a variety of beers, specialty mixed drinks and island-inspired small plates to share. The servers are mostly from the islands as well; very friendly and, like most of the staff on ship, surprisingly apt to remember my name with a second visit. When it comes to beer, the place features Red Frog Ale made especially for Carnival. You can order a large 20 oz. pint or a 110 ounce beer tube with a spigot at the bottom for communal sharing. I mentioned that I don’t care for mass produced American beer, and in my opinion, the Red Frog Ale is on par with them. Unless you’re going for quantity, just pass on this. They also serve Boddington’s in the can and Guinness here. When it comes to specialty drinks, the Pub offers many of the fruity, tropical, “drink two of these and get a headache from sugar” cocktails as well. You can order most in these giant fishbowl goblets which can throw you for a loop. I liked their specialty “Ting” cocktails made with a grapefruit soda and white liquor like gin or vodka. The gin Ting is very refreshing since they spice it up with a dash of bitters. As for the food, it’s a tasty winner. Presentations are rustic island themed in paper lined wire cones with long plantain chips mixed in with the mostly fried offerings like fish fingers and excellent coconut shrimp with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We tried the conch fritters as well and found them to be good, but aren’t what you’d find in Mallory Square in Key West. They unfortunately have a spice in the batter which fries to a shell-like hardness. When I bit into them, I felt like I was going to chip my teeth. The conch ceviche was delicious. The portion big enough, but suffered from a lack of saltines or bread with which to eat it. I also tried the chicken roti and found them to be satisfying. Any food ordered in the Red Frog will run $3.33. They are all certainly big enough to share. Go with a dining mate; and with the ambience, live music in the evenings, and quality, it’s a fun place. The MDR I was happy to reserve a Your Time Dining reservation. We ate in the Northern Lights room always at a separated table for four. The room is large, on two levels. I preferred to eat on the edges of the restaurant rather than in the two-story open center. While the view of the singing and dancing waiters is better in the center since they tend to gather along the crescent stairways to perform, I did not care for the large blue green florescent chandeliers casting and unsavory glow on my food and my family. It’s more intimate under the eaves. We never really waited in long lines to be seated when we’d typically appear between 6:15 and 7:30, maybe three or four parties before us. It was only on our last night that there was a bit of a wait, so we were offered a pager to let us know when our table was ready. It’s completely convenient, since the lobby lounge opens onto the dining room. We just excused ourselves and sat and chatted on the sofas for about 25 minutes while we sipped a drink from the bar. The quality of the food in the MDR is a bit hit or miss. I was never dissatisfied. I loved the variety and didn’t order off of the everyday items menu. I liked more adventurous fare, often trying a ‘Didja’ appetizer which included interesting fare like frog’s legs Provençale and braised Ox tongue. The fish entrees were typically overcooked to my liking. I asked the waiter if they could cook my salmon to more of a medium consistency and he said it would be too difficult for the kitchen with the volume. I thought the Panko breaded shrimp were delectable, as was the rich, sherried seafood Newburg. Soups were consistently good and often interesting with options like strawberry or chilled peach, a hearty navy bean, and a surprisingly spicy Tom Kha with chicken. My in laws thought that their food was often not hot enough for them. I’m not as sensitive to temperature and found mostly everything very good. For dessert, I loved the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream; it’s totally decadent. We had four different dining captains when we ate and each was quite special, but it wasn’t until the last night that we really struck the jackpot and had a waiter who was clearly trained in a five star establishment. From the whisking of the napkins to our lap, the attentive and friendly service, to the use of a crumb catcher, he was spot on! The others had strengths in different ways. One evening, our friendly waiter surprised us all at the table with a solo singing performance to the entire dining room after the wait staff finished their number. Another night, we had a guy who comped us our after-dinner drinks and didn’t charge the corkage fee for the wine we brought to share at the table from the cabin. Yet one other night, when my in-laws were dissatisfied with their food temperature, our waiter tried to buy our satisfaction with extra appetizers, entrees and desserts to the table. It wasn’t like we needed the extra food, but I can (but probably shouldn’t) always eat a few more shrimp or a few forkfuls of cake. If I had to put my finger on the issue with the MDR, it would be that the servers are spread too thin. It doesn’t help that every 45 minutes or so, they all MUST convene in the center of the room to sing a song together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the live entertainment, waving my napkin above my head with the majority of the diners. However, when your domed entrée sits on a large serving tray cooling with 14 others while you wait for the musical number to end, there’s kind of a disconnect here. Sea days gave us brunches in the Southern Lights dining room. There was always a line for this, but it moved briskly and we were seated within 15 minutes of arriving. As a bonus, as a repeat Carnival cruiser, I was offered coupons for free drinks at brunch. They’ve got a delicious bloody Mary bar right outside the dining room with multiple ingredients and hot sauces all mixed to order with a generous pour of Belvedere vodka. No complaints here whatsoever! Brunches would start with a basket of breads and sweet rolls. Coffee and juices at brunch were included with no surcharge, so that was nice. The special menu had nice savory options like salmon and mildly spicy Cornish hen diavola, which I thought was great, as well as omelets made to order. Standard breakfast options like eggs or sausage or waffles were good as well. A totally delicious and easily overlooked option was the jerked bacon on the Caesar salad. The spice rub on that bacon was amazing. We got four pieces, so I shared them. We all loved it. Not so good was the soupy mac and cheese which suffered from too high a béchamel to cheese ratio. Seating could be communal or at smaller tables. One morning we asked for a window view. They suggested a long 10 top five seats from the window at first. We said we didn’t prefer it, so they moved us immediately to a gorgeous view aft of the ship right at the window with the azure eddies from the engines coloring the ship’s trail in the water. Lido Buffet I avoided this area of the ship almost entirely. I think it’s great for families, but the idea of carrying around an oversized plastic plate on a tray and finding a clean, available booth to sit in seems unnecessarily downscale. One would typically have to stop at multiple stations with multiple lines. In almost no case were these lines very long, about 3 or four people waiting, but it’s like a giant Golden Corral. I don’t eat hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, or even pizza when there’s a finer dining option just steps away. It always seemed like the line for the Mongolian Wok which wrapped around the area was too long. Skipped it. There were three areas here which did get my attention, however. The first was the deli portside aft of the ship. The in-laws tried the Reuben and were underwhelmed. The meat portion was skimpy as were the sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. The second buffet area which tended to have my husband suddenly appear with some chocolate delicacy was the chocolate bar. The cakes looked great. The best buffet option was the Tandoor kitchen starboard aft on the ship. The food here was excellent. There were plenty of vegetarian entrée options with rice, entire sauce bar of Indian choices from tamarind to raita to complex chutneys. They had delicious tandoor charred fresh fish and fresh naan coming out of the oven in a stream. We lunched there twice. Room service We regularly used room service for an early breakfast delivery of juice, coffee, bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Options were limited but certainly sufficed. It was great to use the door hangar the night before to get something delivered freshly to the cabin. Timing was always spot on and the portions were really big. Order coffee and they send you a carafe of four cups! The smoked salmon included four large smoked fillets wrapped up to look like roses with a few raw red onion rings and tasty capers sprinkled over them. I wasn’t really happy with the limp wheat toast I got one morning. The next morning, I just marked ‘dark toasted’ on the card and the problem was solved. One day, we made smoked salmon bagels to take with us on our excursion. Nobody looked in our beach bag as we left the ship. We always tipped the room service waiter $2-$5 cash. The Coffee Bar I only went to this place once, which surprised me because I’m a Starbucks-a-holic with daily visits. I like a triple espresso over ice with a touch of soy or almond milk and a Splenda. I got one here twice and I was just a bit underwhelmed. The espresso shots were premade and just poured from little metal pitchers under the machine, which if you know anything about good espresso is a total no-no. No almond or soy milk, either. This is a missed opportunity for Carnival. Service was great, however. Not surprisingly, the second time I visited, I was greeted by name. Drinks I wrestled very hard with whether to purchase the Cheers program for my trip. Three weeks before we cruised, Carnival raised the prices on the package from $37.50 per person per day to $49.95. We opted out. When ships leave out of Galveston, Carnival states that drink packages cannot be purchased until day two because of Texas law. Between the four of us, we each brought on a bottle of wine. We used these bottles at dinner in the MDR three times to offset the costs of buying at dinner, despite the fact that there is a $15 corking fee with a bottle. We also had dinner reservations in the steakhouse on the first night for the free bottle of wine. As repeat cruisers, my in-laws gave us their free drink coupons for Sea Day Brunches which we used with ours as well to save. Since we’d have one or two drinks during the day, a drink before dinner, wine with dinner and one drink after dinner, the Cheers program with the previous price would have saved us about $70 overall in drink fees. We ended up spending $589 on drinks and were never wanting, so the new prices would not have made sense for us. The ones that got away If the cruise had been longer with more sea days, I would have like to have tried the Sea Day Barbecue on the outside Lanai deck. My only other often desired but never tried area was The Taste Bar, which doubles as a breakfast buffet on port days (good-to-know fact!). The taste bar features amuses from the restaurants on the ship, including the premium ones. It was never open when I walked by, except the one night when they featured the Cuchina Del Capitano fare sans the treasured arancini. Entertainment We caught a couple of shows in the theater. Overall quality was good. The cast consisted of a male and female singing lead, four male dancers, eight female dancers, and a five piece band-- all seasoned professionals. We caught two music reviews, both about 40 minutes. My wish was that the reviews were a bit shorter, because I was ready to leave by the end. They were just a little long. Multiple costume changes, great dancing and decent singing was the fare for both, one being Seventies inspired. These would greatly benefit from an overhaul for content. Surprisingly odd was the Destination Unknown magic show with more pyrotechnics than I think is safe on a ship at sea! Sparks fly everywhere. There are large scale illusions with some dancing and a little bit of singing. This show makes no sense at all. It has a futuristic, bondage theme to it. Evidently, someone got hurt during the early performance of the show because of the ship rocking; so we got a modified version. It lasted twenty minutes. I remarked as we left, “Well we just saw something, but I have no idea what it was!” I remember the Love and Marriage show from the previous cruise and I didn’t want to miss this afternoon event hosted by the wry, cheeky, energetic James the Cruise Director. It was very funny, often off-color, and completely spontaneous with three couples playing the Newlywed Game from various stages of their marriage, one just married three days ago, another married for 11 years, and the third for 56 years. What a hoot! Don’t miss this one. I caught three shows in the George Lopez Punchline Lounge. This place was very popular. Towards the end of the cruise, people would line up in the piano bar about thirty minutes before the show in the Piano bar for a seating. They had a total of four comedians performing for the week, two rotating early and two later. These are all performed by professionals, except the lame comedy director who consistently introduced the shows with a very short routine of flat jokes. I was very happy to see that since the previous cruise, the comedians no longer do political humor which I found so offensive eight years ago, I walked out. This time, two of the three had me laughing out loud with their bawdy humor. The third to standing room only was so meek; she made me merely smirk weakly. Mildly amused, I snuck out. Other than that, I played Trivia as often as I could. As I mentioned, these weren’t really interactive, but more like a paper and pencil test given by the administrator. Didn’t matter. These were fun, and I’m happy to say that I won three of four entered! In addition to two ‘solid-gold plastic ships-on-a-stick’, I won a giant fishbowl of a rum drink that was so big, two of us couldn’t finish it. It was, however, very fun to cradle this behemoth across the rocking ship one evening as an ice breaker. They’re available at $19.95 in the Red Frog Pub. The lobby bar had an okay three piece ensemble of singer and two musicians before dinner. They tended to country music, so I never stayed to listen. Summary Carnival is an incredible value for cruising. The service was consistently first rate, the cabin accommodations were spotless, and the food was surprisingly sophisticated if you know where to eat. I loved the spa and found the entertainment to be satisfying. I paid extra for many upgrades on this trip to enhance my experience. Even with the upgrades my cruise on the Magic to the Western Caribbean was much less than it would have cost for a similar experience on other cruise lines, and I still felt like a king being indulged at every step. So many of my friends essentially turned up their nose at the idea of a Carnival cruise, and that’s their loss. I was so impressed with my cruise, I’m looking to book the West Indies out of San Juan as soon as possible.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET Hey there cruisers, Grab a seat this may take a while. (I wish I knew how to add photos here) I returned last week from my first trip on the beautiful CARNIVAL BREEZE and took a LOT ... Read More
EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET Hey there cruisers, Grab a seat this may take a while. (I wish I knew how to add photos here) I returned last week from my first trip on the beautiful CARNIVAL BREEZE and took a LOT of notes. This was a last minute solo trip that I snagged via the “Carnival Player’s club” from my VIFP “Special offers”. I’ve wanted to sail on the new BREEZE, and the offer was too good to pass up and managed to get good airfare. . This was my 15th Carnival cruise since 2006. I grabbed it immediately for the chance to see what the new BREEZE has to offer. I originally booked an interior room on deck two, but managed a better upgrade to a SPA INTERIOR on deck 11….more on that later. I have also cruised NCL and RCL. I do enjoy Carnival and have been looking for great deals on other lines to change it up, but always work out better offers with Carnival for my time frame and interests. I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in detail and I hope that my experience is helpful to you and possibly the cruise lines. . I am not a hard-sell Balcony or specific stateroom type of guy. I try to be flexible and have discovered that it can lead to a whole different experience depending on where your stateroom is located and the ship. My on board itinerary is normally “step out of the box” type of things keeping the trip experience fresh and different as many of us know it starts to become stagnant. Attend different meetings, gatherings, and explore on my own as well as take an unexpected excursion, even if it isn’t in my common interest. Keeping an open mind and doing this, I’ve managed to meet different people and discover places and experiences I probably would never have. . SHIP: CARNIVAL BREEZE 9/21/14 My plans this trip were “EXPERIENCE THE BREEZE, SOLO WITHOUT BREAKING THE BUDGET”. I am going to focus a LOT on the actual ship this review, and I’m certain it will have many shopping for their next booking when you are finished reading. My last cruises were Imagination & Victory in 2013, and I was last on the DREAM class in 2011. Sailing on this ship was the HIGHLIGHT of my vacation. Any online photos and reports do no justice. I always saw prior sailings as floating amusement parks, so the neon and obscure décor I could overlook. The BREEZE is an entirely new vision for style and comfort. The details involving color, woodwork, trees and foliage really gives it a soothing and calming feel bringing the outside to the interior. . This is the third ship in the “dream class” with a few additional additives and upgrades. Walking through the back buffet area one of the first things you notice are plants. Built-in trees, potted planters and attention to wall detail almost make you feel like you are walking through a neighborhood mix of café’s, pubs and lounges. Each bar has its own menu of specialties whether you seek the poolside Fun frozen concoctions, Pub-like drafts or the more Classy cocktails. It’s perfect for the bar crawl taste testing explorer. . The new RED FROG BAR is presented with the street-front entrance of an actual bar with simulated outside seating. The stage like inviting façade leads you into an actual bar setting equipped with hi-top tables and bar seats. It’s a great alternative gathering location for small parties or cocktails over the old conference room setting. The back of the bar utilizes the ship side windows allowing light to open up the space from a dark inside feel to a spacious pub-like social atmosphere. STOP IN and have a drink and you may forget you are onboard a cruise ship finding your nightly hangout for pre and post dinner cocktails. . The BONSAI SUSHI bar has been transformed from a small side counter with an overhang only opened at tea time. It has grown up to a full serving area with several hi-top tables adorned with place settings, tea pots and bonsai trees. Overhead stylish lighting gives this setting the feel of a sit-down restaurant. If the taste of the orient is what you like, then you will be pulled into this space for sure. . There is no more Alchemy Bar in the back allowing the PIANO BAR to be opened up to provide extra seating. It doesn’t feel as enclosed and utilizes the sometimes dead space to give a more open feel. The farthest back still has the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE where the “PUNCHLINER’s” comedy club has been attracting more and more attendees each ship I sail. This was definitely a good investment for alternative entertaining on Carnival’s behalf. If you are searching for the perfect cocktail or martini then the steakhouse bar has a seat for you. Seated just outside is the comedy club is FAHRENHEIT 555 STEAKHOUSE. Reservations & a fee are required. If you want to have a more intimate dinner for a special occasion, or just to splurge this is dinner out for sure. Top cut steaks, double starters, an appetizer and closing up with desert options that look direct from a gourmet pastry chef’s personal menu. . If all this sounds to formal for your taste don’t worry your options are far from limited. The NEW GUY’s BURGER JOINT at Pool-side Lido deck have pushed aside those frozen hamburger patties for a burger that simply crumbles into your mouth. Claim your burger and slip over to the complete TOPPINGS bar and customize the perfect sandwich. If burgers are not your “safe food” then choose between the BLUE IGUANA CANTINA for a Burrito or taco made to order, or visit the MONGOLIAN WOK in the newly designed LIDO MARKETPLACE. The more Caribbean-style feel has transformed the “buffet” to food stations with comfort. The PIZZA PIRATE around back of the Lido serves 24/7 pizza with a new thin style flaky crust. This is an upgrade to the former tasteless pizza on my prior sailings. . Tucked away upstairs from the Lido Marketplace is CUCINA DEL CAPITANO, another family style Italian-like setting. This is the 2nd reservation +fee restaurant dinner option aboard the BREEZE. It is less formal than the steakhouse and possible the more popular for the everyday cruiser. They transform to a less formal environment and offer free lunch options as the custom made PASTA BAR. On Sea days you can catch some sun at FAT JIMMY’s C-SIDE BBQ. Also, don’t forget to start the day with sit down breakfast in the elegant BLUSH dining room. . If there is one thing the BREEZE has accomplished with its new design is how to be more multi-functional. Most spaces onboard offer different atmospheres from day to night making you feel like it is more ship than it really is. I did discover that all FOOD service besides the 24 hour room service and PIZZA is shut down between 4:00-5:00 as menus and space transformation is happening. . Once you are finished eating…. (If that is even possible) it is time for some entertaining. Many options are available for all ages and families alike. The poolside theatre shows a nightly movie on the JUMBO TV complete with the smell of fresh popped mouthwatering popcorn for everyone. PLAYLIST productions shows are nightly in the LIMELIGHT LOUNGE. I will say thank you to Carnival for tweaking the stage out into the audience and making the upper seating steeper for better viewing. However, I am not a fan of the new Playlist productions. Some of the singers were difficult to hear if their head sets are not positioned correctly during quick costume changes. The cast also is more mediocre performers across the board having to be more multifunctional now as singers, dancers and performers. I personally enjoyed the older two-lead singers and better dancers myself. If you are not into production shows, the LIQUID NIGHTCLUB or WINNER’s CASINO may be more your flare. Junior cruisers will love CLUB 02 or discover what the 2.0 upgrades offer at the ARCADE, FUN HUBS and BRAND NEW THRILL THEATRE. The OCEAN PLAZA puts the old single waterslide to shame on older ships. The upgraded Water Park, Adventure ROPE COURSE is the child’s amusement park from heaven…… that also allows the adult kids to play along. . The BREEZE is not your daddy’s floating amusement park it’s a fully equipped entertainment city for everyone from the solo cruiser to the family alike. That aside, she also offers an experience for the less active cruiser that seeks a more relaxed vacation as well. The Spa & Sports deck not only offers the usual jogging track, but includes a full size basketball court and miniature golf. There are exercise apparatus all along the track that include (Pull up bars, sit up benches, punching bags, cycle machines, parallel bars, etc.) Once you have worked up a sweat cool off in one of the outside showers around the deck and then head on to the SPA-SIDE end for some pampering. . The ADULTS only SPA SERENITY deck is just that. Peace, quiet, serenity. Cushioned Hammocks built for two, Cabana covered beds, and Full size opened SUN beds and adult only hot tubs. There are also counter levered hot tubs around the lanai deck what usually have ample space available. If you are finished with the outdoors and had enough sun, head inside and pamper yourself at the fully upgraded CLOUD9 SPA and GYM. Upgraded exercise equipment and several classes to choose are available or experience pampering at its finest at CLOUD9 SPA. I mentioned at the start that I was upgraded to a SPA interior and it was worth every cent. . INTERIOR SPA STATEROOM 11211 Location for this stateroom is directly under one of the Weightlifting apparatus in the gym. So there were some mornings you got the Thump, Thump Thump of the weights from above. Nothing MAJOR, but if you are a light sleeper and wish to sleep in take this into consideration. I noticed it, but it did not ruin any of my vacation. Included with the SPA stateroom you will receive: upgraded products offered at the spa such as shampoos, lotions, soaps, slippers, soft-waffle pattern-touch towels, bed linen sprays to help you sleep and private access to the spa & Serenity Deck bypassing the front desk and public areas. You will receive a special access bracelet allowing you entrance to the STEAM ROOM, DRY HEAT Room, HEATED CONTOURED BODY LOUNGERS, ORIENTAL STEAM BATH with “mint & eucalyptus” to help open nasal passages, Special VIP serenity waiting area with lemon water & teas as you wait for your reserved $ treatments. Oh and not to omit the famous THELLOSOTHERAPY pool. A 3 foot deep enlarged hot tub with built in contoured loungers and massaging water spouts for the perfect back massage. . I know there was about ¼ of the ship I never got to experience which is why I am looking forward to sailing the BREEZE again and discover all the hidden areas I missed the first time around. To say I enjoyed the BREEZE is an understatement. I discovered that a FULL VACATION could be experienced ONBOARD the BREEZE without even setting foot off the ship. However, besides everything there is to do onboard there are still great port of calls to experience which I will continue with in the second half of my review. .. (If you have made it thus far) This second half of my review will be focused on the Ports, some misc. crew comments. Thank you for keeping up with me. . . KEY WEST, FL I have been to this port many times and always say that Carnival needs to stay longer. The early arrival and departure really cuts down on your time there to get a full experience. Most businesses do not open until 9:00 and just when the island is coming alive for afternoon/evening culture it is time to leave. Other cruise lines do stay longer allowing you to catch an afternoon local musician for dinner at one of the local café’s. This trip we arrived at 8am and departed at 4:00 (back on board by 3:30). Luckily, we were able to dock at the downtown port looking over Duval Street instead of the naval station. When docking at the naval station you lose a good hour or more just for the commute into downtown. Docking down town is VERY convenient to walk off the ship and be in the midst of downtown Mallory Square. Duval, Front & the “square” are all nice to stroll and shop. A little pricey but there are many small tasty venues that can help pass the time and find some nice quality items. . To get the real flare for what KEY WEST has to offer though, you need to bypass the touristy vacuum and venture out. This is the perfect island to do your homework before visiting. There are many locals that offer private charters around the island and know all the perfect snorkeling areas. There is no one better than the local residents to help guide you to what Key West really has to offer. Pre-Reservations may be required before your arrival, but worth it. Simple online searches for KEY WEST Private Charters visiting is a good place to start. The life on the water around the island offers several great opportunities to satisfy your playful side. . If land dwelling and self-exploration is your thing there are several options. Directly off the ship (at the end of the downtown pier) you will find a few small wooden sheds to rent bikes. This is normally my option for the island. $20-25/day gets you a BIKE, LOCK and map of the island. This is perfect for cruising on a budget. The island is not that large and biking is a norm everywhere you go. You can also rent scooters or electric carts if you wish. Just keep in mind that all local road laws are in affect while driving on the roads. You are susceptible to ticketing so be sure to adhere to all of your stop signs, traffic lights and road rules. It is not a free for all. My suggestion is slip over one street off the main roads and usually you have an open quiet side road with much less traffic. . My routine “Budget bike-route” consists of…… departing the portside bike rental and make my way about 2-3 blocks over to the Post Office to mail out a post card or package. This is a perfect stop to box and send directly home those large souvenir purchases that you may have made and don’t feel like lugging through the airport when you get home. If you follow THOMAS STREET (Parallel to Whitehead & Duval) all the way to the end you can bypass all the heavy traffic. At the end scoot over and pick up Duval St right for the final two blocks to the SOUTHERNMOST POINT landmark. The KW Butterfly Conservatory is about a block from the SMP landmark. Admission is $12-Adults $8.50-kids. It is small, self-guided but interesting and fun for the kids. Make your way over a few blocks along the coast to lovely HIGGS BEACH where you can relax and spend the day. There is a small extended pier and places to buy a snack. If you want to get your exercise in, this is also the start of the scenic BIKE PATH that follows the along the perimeter of the island. I personally follow it all the way up to the North side of the island, past the airport and then cut back to follow FLAGER AVE or one of the parallel side streets all the way directly back to center of town. (KW Butterfly house area) One last stop at the “ORIGINAL” KEY LIME PIE FACTORY 412 GREENE ST (not to be mistaken for the KW Pie Company), and a bottle of refreshing imported Coconut-Lime sparkling drink, not found anywhere else. This whole venture can be done in about 5 hours with plenty of time to return the bike, jump back on the ship for a quick shower and return to port for some quick last minute shopping on Duval St. or relax on the ship for lunch and catch the sailboats returning from their daily outing. Namaste! . GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS This is a tender port as the ships cannot dock portside without damaging the protected coral reefs. Cayman Islands are famous for the Stingrays, Turtles, Colorful diving sites and the Famous beautiful “7 Mile Beach” located just north of Georgetown where your port of call is located. The beach itself is geographically just less than 5 miles in length and is open to the public the entire length. It is one of the most visited destinations on Grand Cayman with its crystal clear Caribbean blue waters & white sand. This beach has been awarded “THE CARRIBEAN’s BEST BEACH in many travel magazines. The tranquility of this island is juxtaposed by its other famous tourist site of “HELL”. HELL is a part of the island made up of Black Limestone rock formations creating a desolate yet intriguing tourist stop. The unexpected location surrounded by some of the most ethereal beach fronts is part of what draws the onlookers to its site. T-shirts, key chains, and many photo background opportunities with catchy sayings are in abundance to purchase as proof of your unique visit to this destination. . Round up your budget adventure by making your way back to portside and visit the CAYMAN CABANA OCEANSIDE RESTOBAR located next to where you came ashore. In my opinion, there is no visiting Grand Cayman without a stop here for lunch. Pick your fresh “catch of the day fish” on the way on and they will cook it up for you at the outside bar. Pair it up with their famous RUM PUNCH & fries and I promise will leave your mouth watering for the best Caribbean fish meal you will find. Grab a marker and sign your name on one of the wooden joists above for friends to find when you tell them to visit after you return home. If ever there was a “Tour of Paradise”, Grand Cayman would definitely be on one the itinerary. . COZUMEL, MX...(it rained in the morning.... its the Caribbean) It is very difficult to cruise the Caribbean and not have a stop at Cozumel, MX. This is the central stop for a majority of all the big cruise lines. It is a small island just off the coast of mainland Mexico. Famous for snorkeling, shopping and Mayan Culture connections is what draws visitors from all over the world to Cozumel. The west side of the island is the more developed area for shopping and fun excursions. I have visited Cozumel several times and have multiple reviews of many excursions offered. Excursions ranging from ATV adventures, JEEP & DUNE BUGGY rides, Snorkeling, Parasailing, Deep sea fishing and many more are located all over the island. Most of the adventure options take you to private beaches located on the more underdeveloped East side and the famous Punta Sur at the lower tip. This side of the island is more wilderness and beach and usually bears the brunt of incoming storms and hurricanes that approach from the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic. Trips via water ferry to the mainland visit Carmen Del Playa for the more historical excursions involving Mayan ruins and Underground River/ tubing tours. . Continuing on my “Budget Vacation”, I grabbed a taxi for $8 and took a trip 3 miles up the coast to Porte de San Miguel. Shopping at the stores along the main strip is open to bartering. I stopped in at SENIOR FROGS to grab some quesadilla and a Banana smoothie before hopping in another taxi for a quick sightseeing trip around town. When you get back to the Port shopping area you may find that bartering is more flexible in the shops once you hear the ½ hr. ship warning horn blow. Be sure to make haste with your offers as you don’t want to be one of the last minute pier runners chasing the gangway as it is pulled back on-board before departure. Cozumel is one of the highest percentage ports of call for cruiser missing the ship. You do not want to be added to the statistics!!! . . CRUISE DIRECTOR: MATT MITCHUM Onboard the BREEZE is one of the best cruise directors I have had the pleasure of sailing with, Mr. MATT MITCHUM. Matt has a fun and outgoing personality with a talent for getting passengers motivated. This was one of the more involved groups of passengers I have seen over my many trips sailing cruise lines. Whenever you noticed a large gathering of dancers and people cheering and having fun, chances are there was Matt right in the middle of it all as the ring leader. He made this trip ENJOYABLE, FUN and MEMORABLE. His smile and laughter is contagious, not annoying like other cruise director’s I have met. He draws people in and gets complete strangers to intermingle and let down their guard. Matt is an ASSET to the Carnival brand and it is no wonder he is the face of their beautiful CARNIVAL BREEZE. I look forward to sailing the Breeze again and with Matt as the cruise director. . ROOM STEWARD: NATALYA was my room steward on the SPA deck. She was training her assistant and told me that he was up for a review to receive his own Steward assignments on another deck. They both were great and I wish all the best to her assistant. Honestly, I did not catch his name, because I barely was interrupted when he was tending to my stateroom. THAT, IMHO is what makes a good room steward; one that knows your name and schedule and can work around it without disturbing your vacation. They both eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are also an asset to the Carnival crew. . SPECIAL MENTIONS Normally, in past reviews I lump together the bar staff and dining staff with some general feedback. I will however take the opportunity to give a special shout out to the TIDES BAR bartender MARIN KNEZEVIC. Usually, I tend to return to the same bartender while on a cruise that I feel comfortable with, but MARIN is definitely “one of a kind”. This kid, (and I say that with utmost respect in relation to my own age) is one hardworking crew member. I’ve been served by many bartenders over my years of sailing and he definitely stood out as one of the best. Over the top friendly, outgoing, great discussion maker and works his butt off while maintaining a CLEAN ORGANIZED BAR. I happened to be a customer at his bar each night before and after he took his nightly break. Each night all of us “regulars” at the bar witnessed his relief tender turn the bar from immaculate to shambles in less than an hour. All while serving wrong drinks, losing customers and needing to call for additional help. When MARIN left he made sure to stock the ice, fill the straws and make sure everything was clean and ready for his break. Upon return, he had to reset and do it all over again while sorting through voided receipts and get his clients back up to vacation mood. You would hear a cheer whenever he returned. Someone like that tucked away at the back of the ship at one of the busiest bars to close the night deserves to have his name mentioned in a review and testimonial. Carnival needs to do what they can to keep more individuals like MARIN working for them. . DEBARKATION: I chose to par-take in my VIP early morning debarkation as I wanted to get to FLL airport early. This could not have gone any smoother. Port of Miami flexes its experience to unload and load passengers like no other. I was walking out the terminal where my SAS TRANSPORTATION was waiting for me a few feet from the door. www.ridesas.com is a great Fort Lauderdale bases shuttle service between MIA and FLL. $16 one way beats the cruise line cost by half. Also being a VAN-SHUTTLE they do not need to wait until an entire charter bus is filled before departure. Pre-reservations are needed and their smartphone APP is very simple to use. All transport must begin or end in Fort Lauderdale as they do not provide transport from Miami to Miami. . SUMMARY LIKES: I LOVE THE BREEZE! Can I say that again? I LOVE THE BREEZE!! The ship should be the minimal blueprint for future overhauls and ship builds. MATT MITCHUM, cruise director- keeps the smiles on the passenger faces all the way home! DISLIKES: I gave it a try, but the PLAYLIST PRODUCTIONS really need to be re-thought out. I appreciate the attempt to change the old style, but I don’t know anyone that enjoys the Playlist shows. I do understand wanting to cut the stage affects to the more digital less costly style, but too many glitches. Like bad headsets for singers you can barely hear, less talented dancers and vocalists and the same variations of the “Diva shows” are getting old. They are becoming extravagant Karaoke or cover artist shows any longer. Just my opinion. . Ok, so I will cut off my review here. It has already become a novel and I may have lost many that started it long ago. Thank you if you made it to the end without falling off your chair. If you happen across a deal for ANY TRIP on the BREEZE, do not hesitate to grab it. Get on the ship and work out your upgrades later. Happy sailing and may the upgrades flow frequent! . I wish that I knew how to figure out how to add photos to my reviews. They are worth a 1,000, memories. wiskt Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Let me first say that I was very apprehensive about taking this cruise. My husband and I are in our mid 50's and I was taking my parents who are in their late seventies. The only other cruise we took in the past was with Holland ... Read More
Let me first say that I was very apprehensive about taking this cruise. My husband and I are in our mid 50's and I was taking my parents who are in their late seventies. The only other cruise we took in the past was with Holland America to Bermuda and it was a very lovely time. The impression I always got from a Carnival cruise was that it was a huge party ship with people that were crazy, drunk 24/7, and loud so I never had an interest in booking a cruise with Carnival. My daughter and son-in-law went on this cruise at the beginning of May. They came back and said what a wonderful time they had and that we really should try it. Because we live in Connecticut about a little over an hour from New York City we decided let's give it a try. Clearly the decor of the Carnival Splendor is not to my taste however, as the week went on I got used to it. We had a balcony stateroom which also was a Cloud 9 room so we were able to access the spa at any time. The Cloud 9 spa saunas and warming rooms and whirlpool were just amazing. My husband who is a cheap accountant didn't want two spend extra money for the room but at the end of the trip he said it was well worth the money because he enjoyed the spa so much. And he normally is not one who wants to go to a spa. I don't understand the people who are complaining about the food. There was always something for everyone. If you couldn't find anything that you liked, maybe it was because you weren't looking hard enough. When we ate dinner at the Black Pearl, there was always a set menu plus an additional daily menu. For lunch when you ate on the Lido area of the buffet you also could go to the aft of the ship and have deli sandwiches which included wraps, panini, etc.. Or you could go to the Tandoori line were they had lovely Indian food. The lines were never really horrible, you would probably be fed within 10 minutes. The only thing I ever saw that had a big line was the Mongolian wok. My husband had to wait about 20 minutes but then again you have all day to eat so what's the big deal? We stayed at the aft pool for most of the day or we went to one of the other decks to just lie in the sun. We also went to the Serenity deck one afternoon which was lovely also. You could do as much or as little as you wanted. My parents who are in their late 70's went around the deck, laid out in the Sun a little bit, read on their balcony, and basically were able to fill their day. We briefly went to the casino 1 night which was nice however it really was terrible that Carnival lets everybody smoke in there. You stink when you leave. The entertainment in the theater was very good.I would say that the lead woman singer was a better singer than the man however who knows why they choose the singers. I believe his name was Derek and he was a little stiff. The woman, I think Allison had a real theatrical voice and stage presence. The dancers were very talented. The outside talent that they hired were fabulous. The first guy was a juggler/comedian who was fantastic.He was a semi-finalist on America's Got Talent and he was very entertaining. The other person I remember his name was Marcus Anthony and in the beginning I thought he was kind of a lounge lizard but his show ended up being really good doing many songs from Motown. We saw three family friendly comedy shows and 1 adult comedy show. The comedian that we saw at the adult show we also saw the family friendly show and he was much better at the family friendly show. Saying f*** every 4th word does not automatically mean the content is funny. Maybe Canival needs to rethink putting in more family friendly shows? THe staff were incredibly hard working, polite, and did whatever they could to make you happy. They make it a point to know your name and address you by it. They are well trained, and their efficiency shows. Their customer service was evident. My only complaints were: 1. The line to get drinks at the buffet was not placed correctly because people can't get by because it is in a major area getting to both ends of the pool. Both passengers and service people are trying to get through the same area were people are standing and self serving their drinks. 2. The pools were a little small to accommodate up to 3600 guests, however the pools were always clean and they always pumped the water in fresh about every other day. At least the aft pool was. I don't know about the pool in the front of the boat or the one in the main Lido area. I laughed when I saw a review that a person complained because it was salt water. How silly. Why would they put fresh water in the pool when they can just pump it in from the ocean? Our first stop was Grand Turk. The beach was nice but a little rocky but they were chairs for everybody to lie in the Sun. Or if you wanted to lie in the shade you could do that too because they were plenty of palm trees. Many people went through the shopping area to get to Margaritaville to go to the pool. I walked over there and it was a crowded mess. The second stop was at the Carnival private island on Half Moon Cay. It was beautiful! The water was gorgeous, the barbecue was a little crazy, but it goes with the territory. The third stop was in Nassau and we went off the ship for about an hour to walk around the town and my parents took a trip to the Arawak gardens and zoo. They liked the excursion and it was good for them to see Nassau since they had never been there. My husband and I went back to the ship after our 1 hour walk around town and it was lovely to be able to do anything on the ship that you wanted too because it wasn't very crowded. All-in-all we had a very nice time and we would probably try Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Returned from this cruise this morning. I sailed with my mother, one of my girlfriends and my 20 month old daughter. We chose this itinerary specifically because we live in MA and the NYC departure appealed to us. It was SUPER easy to get ... Read More
Returned from this cruise this morning. I sailed with my mother, one of my girlfriends and my 20 month old daughter. We chose this itinerary specifically because we live in MA and the NYC departure appealed to us. It was SUPER easy to get to, but even with the three hour drive, we opted to stay in a hotel the night before just to make the morning we boarded much easier. We stayed at the Hampton Inn in Yonkers and it was the perfect pre-cruise hotel. Nice, safe area. Less than 30 minutes to the port with little to no traffic - and we avoided dealing with Manhattan parking and prices. We even went through Yonkers on the way home and avoided a ton of traffic that would have been on 95. We did park at the cruise port though, that was $320 for the week. But again, not dealing with airfare and flying made that well worth it for us. We were in Cabin 7317. It was a suite with a balcony, which we spent most of our time on. For a suite, it seemed small. I've been on 6 cruises now, and this was the smallest suite I've seen. The balcony was a good size, but we found mold under our deck chair cushions - along with a pacifier that was NOT my daughters. Thank goodness SHE didn't find it or that thing would have gone straight into her mouth, ha. Our housekeeping staff was top notch. Always so nice and helpful and very quick with any request. We had two at sea days before we reached our first stop. This was when I realized Carnival probably wasn't my bag. The ship is PACKED. The Lido deck is a nightmare. Getting anything quick to eat is next to impossible. The pools are overflowing with people, every deck chair is taken. Trying to maneuver anywhere with my daughter in a public place was incredibly stressful. I also felt like there just wasn't much to do during sea days. I typically love the spa, but I got a mani/pedi the first day and it was such a put off the way the woman doing my nails just kept trying to sell me products and more and more services. I just wanted to relax, not feel like I was dealing with a pushy car salesperson. I went to work out in the gym, all the treadmills were usually taken, (but good for people being fitness minded!) We seriously ended up on our balcony reading almost every day. The ports were what you make of them. San Juan was a blast. So much history and I love just walking around Old Town. We went up to the fort, had a great dinner after, then took in some shopping. St Thomas, we opted to grab a cab to Lindbergh Beach. Trust me - head there. It's less crowded, there is shade, beach chairs, beautiful water and hardly any PEOPLE. Magen's is stunning, but EVERYONE is there. Grand Turk, we went for the cabana rental at Margaritaville. If my daughter wasn't with us, I probably would have been a little more adventurous. The $129 for the rental is well worth it if you're a group of four like us - and especially if you're super irish and don't want to get charred on your vacation. It's a party spot and super cheesy, so just be ready for that. I had thought it was closer to the beach, so that was kind of a bummer, but I'll remember it for next time. We had early dining on the ship. The waitstaff was amazing and the food was delicious. I'd heard bad things so had some reservations about this, but truly, the dinners were all more than adequate. And if you don't like something, they're happy to bring you something else. We did the steakhouse one night and it was some of the best food I'd had anywhere - let alone on a cruise ship. Overall, I had a lovely time on this trip. We got a great deal and knew full well the week would be what ever we made of it. I think, ultimately, I need something a little more sophisticated than what Carnival offers, so will probably try a new cruise line next. I've had great luck with Royal Caribbean in the past, but for the price point and proximity to our home, I thought I'd give this a try. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Just arrived today from the Carnival Glory Cruise which was not planned but with the help of our vacation planner, Joshua Wade it became a huge surprise for my Aunt from UK who has never been on a cruise. Joshua Wade has always gone out of ... Read More
Just arrived today from the Carnival Glory Cruise which was not planned but with the help of our vacation planner, Joshua Wade it became a huge surprise for my Aunt from UK who has never been on a cruise. Joshua Wade has always gone out of his way to give us good deals and this was our fourth trip with Carnival. Overall, the trip was a great, services were excellent, port excursions were interesting and the people on board entertainment was a bonus for all of us. Firstly, I must thank Jojo in the Medical Center for reason being that my wife forgot her medication and was very sick and Jojo and his associates went out of their way to help her out. So, a very big THANK YOU to all the Medical Center Staff at Carnival Glory and God Bless you all for being a Great Saviour. Secondly, the serving group at Platinum Dinning Hall, late time 8.15pm with Matridee Suresh, Libarto, Siegfredo and Raymond who served us with warmth and excellent service. This also touched my Aunt and she was sad leaving them today. They went out of their way to make everyone happy, content with their excellent services with smiles and laughter also provided us with menus with lovely deserts. We were also served with special menus by Chef Senthil Kumar upon request and for the Royal Service, we also say a Big THANK YOU to all of them as a Great Team and the Team work and will miss them a lot! Room service by Gede and his associates were great and also gave us excellent service with a smile on their faces every morning and evening which made our day happy and cheerful. As this was our last minute booking, the cabin 9198 was an excellent one and very spacious for 4 of us together and Gede made sure that every towel and napkins were fully staked in the room, Jay was very helpful in shopping at the ports and he has been a great guide. The programmes in the evenings at the theater was entertaining and enjoyed a lot with the dance and music. Since my mother needed special assistance with the wheel chair, she was taken care of immediately by the Guest Services Staff and made sure that she was comfortable. Once again, our appreciation for the lovely trip and keep up the Team work and Excellent Service Carnival Cruise.....THANK YOU VERY MUCH   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
The ship seems to be older, not very well maintained. Needs fresh paint, carpets cleaned, updated maintenance, etc. We had a suite, which was a great room, a little dirty (i.e. food left in the cabinets, broken light switch, etc), but was ... Read More
The ship seems to be older, not very well maintained. Needs fresh paint, carpets cleaned, updated maintenance, etc. We had a suite, which was a great room, a little dirty (i.e. food left in the cabinets, broken light switch, etc), but was worth the money for the upgrade. The spa is located directly underneath the children's play area. We paid for a couples massage, and the entire time the kids were jumping and bouncing and screaming, so you couldn't really relax. The walls would shake and you would hear a LOUD thump each time a child jumped/played. Very poorly designed. The ship buffet was not very well planned out either. You waited in long lines to get mediocre food. It felt like a cattle call every time you were hungry. Buffet food was just mediocre, lots of hot dogs and hamburgers, very little other food. Dinner in the main dining area was good. The private island (Half Moon Cay) was nice, but very poorly ran. Everyone is clumped together on the beach, which has plenty of space to spread out. The music is loud, long lines to get food or drinks at the private islands also. Took us over an hour to tender to the island (another cattle call experience). This is a party ship for sure. Tons of kids, tons of people drinking and dancing and hollering everywhere. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
This was about sailing on the Sunshine not really about the ports, been to these ports before. Let’s start with the embarkation we walked right on once we checked in grant it we platinum so very quick at checking. The balcony was nice, ... Read More
This was about sailing on the Sunshine not really about the ports, been to these ports before. Let’s start with the embarkation we walked right on once we checked in grant it we platinum so very quick at checking. The balcony was nice, but no mini-refrigerator in the cabin? I believe in the past whether we booked interior, ocean-view or balcony we had a mini-frig? Our cabin steward was great; he kept our Ice bucket full and put a bucket for the wine. Nice size shower, but the rest of the restroom was tight; the door couldn’t be opened if seated or if someone was at the sink. The Cloud 9 Spa was short changed during the upgrade “No” Thalassotherapy pool  it does have Thermal suite, the laconium dry steam and two steam rooms one is aroma therapy and the other one is oriental steam. Last minute booking so no cloud 9 spa room where available, we brought the couples pass for $149.00 for the 8 days. The Signature Dining was amazing; we loved the Cucina del Capitano, Jiji’s Asian kitchen and of course the steakhouse. The food and service where well worth it the $12.00 p.p. charge for Cucina’s and Jiji’s. The steakhouse is $35.00p.p. I would highly recommend it lots of fantastic food. We did not get to the sushi restaurant, but other we talked with said it was good. They also had a self-serve beer tap by the pizza/deli on the lido deck restaurant and self-serve wine bar in the library (We did not try either of these) maybe next time. The 3 levels of the Serenity deck where very nice, although there is only one hot tub, the pool with waterfall was beautiful and it seemed to have plenty of lounges. We didn’t go to the theater shows, because we had seen the shows before, and others had said the theater was small. Which we found out for ourselves during the past guest party it was full, when we arrived 5 minutes after the party was to start ended up with a seat on the upper level and got a piece of salmon and one beer each. Not like parties it the pass. All the other 2.0 upgrades where great: Alchemy bar (Our Favorite), Guy’s burgers, Sea-day brunch, Blue iguana café and Punch-liners.   Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
Again, Carnival never fails to do its best to make their passengers feel absolutely at ease about sailing off into the sunset. Everyone at check-in was gracious and helpful, even when requesting wheel chair assistance for one of the ... Read More
Again, Carnival never fails to do its best to make their passengers feel absolutely at ease about sailing off into the sunset. Everyone at check-in was gracious and helpful, even when requesting wheel chair assistance for one of the passengers in my party. We were escorted right onto the ship and didn't have to wait in line for our zone to be called (even though we were in Zone 1). The rooms were kept absolutely sparkling clean by our cabin steward, Trishna. The food in the dining room was always appetizing and served hot. I was not overly impressed by the buffet food. It was always a hit or miss...never really consistently good. The one thing I loved were the burritos and tacos at the grill on the Lido deck. Only problem with that was that they were only open during lunch time (lots of crowds). I'm not a beef eater, but my family LOVED the burgers at Guy's Burger Joint. The fries were always hot and delicious, are are always my weakness. Although the line for Guy's was always long, it seemed to go pretty fast, so bravo to the guys sweating and working hard behind the counter. The one disappointment I experience was with the Cloud 9 Spa. On most ships, access to the steam room, whirl pool, and dry sauna are automatic (no fee); however on this ship, because they've given the spa a fancy name, guests have to pay a daily entrance fee of $40. Even if you've received a spa treatment, you still have to pay $20 to enter the spa facility. I've been to many higher-end spas in the US and Europe, and have only had to pay for my services and all access to the facility was included. I spent more than $700 in the spa during the cruise and I couldn't even get free all-access for at least 1 day! Something is seriously wrong with that picture. I just hope they don't get the bright idea to do that on the rest of the Carnival ships. Overall though, I did enjoy my trip. I must give credit to the medical staff because my father became extremely ill on the last night of the cruise. The medical team responded within 15 minutes and stablized him until we reached Miami. Once we were ported in Miami, they rushed him to a local Miami ER where he received quality care. For that, I must thank them beyond measure! I will definitely be back to sail with Carnival. Although, I'll keep my money in my pocket and get spa treatments on a resort while we're in port! :-D Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
We are a late 50's couple travelling with two friends of same age and sailed on the Glory for the second time in 3 years. We booked back to back eastern and western Carribean cruises, with the east being the first week. We are 10 time ... Read More
We are a late 50's couple travelling with two friends of same age and sailed on the Glory for the second time in 3 years. We booked back to back eastern and western Carribean cruises, with the east being the first week. We are 10 time cruisers with the majority being with Carnival. Embarkation on this cruise was the WORST EVER!!!!!!! From arrival at port to getting onto the ship was over 90 minutes in duration. Our balcony cabin was situated portside forward on deck 11. It was a great location for us because of the quiet setting close to the serenity deck, fitness center, and spa. Once aboard, we found the entire staff to be beyond spectacular. They are cleaning, wiping, sanitizing, and working 24/7. All were very friendly and professional, and I would like to acknowledge two in particular. The maitre' D, Cbasa (Chubby) is without question the most competent and charasmatic person I have ever met at sea. Our room steward named "Super Duper" was fantastic. He exceeded expectations in every way. We did not use ship excursions as the ports have been visited by us numerous times in the past. We have to agree with many other reviewers that the quality of the dining experience in the Platinum and Golden dining rooms has deteriorated significantly from years gone by. Not that it was bad, but just not as impressive as it once was. The wait staff were as phenomanal as they ever were, but the food selection and quality has regressed. Guy's burgers was a plus, and the Lido deck buffet was okay for breakfast and lunches.. The Blue Iguana Cantina and Fish and Chip Place were not visited. We ate at the Emerald Room steakhouse twice and really enjoyed the food quality there. The entertainment in the theatre was the usual cruise edition quality which would be more suited to 1st time cruisers. The juggler comedian used exactly the same jokes and in the same order as he did 3 years ago. The singers and dancers in the showroom and the atrium and lounges were below average in my opinion, but some may disagree. Our main concern or complaint is the general layout of the ship itself. The intended quiet areas are oddly interspaced with party and noisy areas that conflict with each other throughout the ship. The serenity deck at the bow is located right beside the camp carnival area for infants. It is difficult to enjoy a stress free environment when kids are playing and crying within arms length. The spa is located right beside the fitness center. The couples massage that we had on Valentines day was marred by the clanging noises of the various workout machines and treadmills. The library is situated right above and beside the atrium and photo areas which are extremely loud whenever someone enters or leaves. Our table at the Emerald Steakhouse was located beside a window where people congregate to smoke on deck. The ambiance is less than stellar while dining beside a group of obese shirtless men. You cannot access the dining rooms from the front (bow) of the ship on floors three and four because the galley interrupts the traffic flow. The travel must be made through the gauntlet of photographers and the heavy stench of cigarette smoke from the adjacent casino and then elevator (which were extremely slow do to high patron usage) or down two flights of stairs. On our first cruise on the Glory our balcony cabin was located at the aft (rear) so these issues were not that apparent at the time. Not deal breakers by themselves but certainly inconvenient. Since our flight out of Miami was not until the day following disembarkation, we waited until the last moment to self disembark which went much more smoothly than the embarkation did. Much of the Carnival experience was very enjoyable, but our next cruise will very likely be with a competitor because of the numerous cutbacks and cost saving measures that have occurred. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
First of all, a cruise is what you make of it. That said, I did have higher expectations of a ship that had gone through an extensive renovation to be in better condition that what it was. Previous posters re-affirmed what I saw, worn ... Read More
First of all, a cruise is what you make of it. That said, I did have higher expectations of a ship that had gone through an extensive renovation to be in better condition that what it was. Previous posters re-affirmed what I saw, worn varnish on wood and especially in the elevators, there is no way they could have been worn down that fast since the ship was reinstated. A few things of note: FTTF - We had purchased FTTF and can honestly say I don't know if it was worth it. Seemed worth it to get on and to get help at Guest Services, but debarkation, it seemed like we were waiting for a long time to get off the ship. Room - We had Aft balcony, room 7430. This was definitely disappointing. We brought drinks and they had no refrigerator and an old tube television. Not that you spend a whole lot of time in your room, but in the balcony rooms you do a little bit more, to relax, read a book, etc. during the days at sea. The refrigerator was most disappointing because I like my sodas cold, we went to guest services and they said the refrigerators are for people with medicine. Wish refrigerators would be standard in the rooms, they have plenty of room to put one in. Food - Guy's Burgers, FANTASTIC!!!!!!! Didn't eat at Blue Iguana, but my Bro-in-law was not impressed with their fish tacos. The buffet was adequate, nothing spectacular. Wish the Triumph had a steak restaurant, other than that, couldn't complain too much about the food. Entertainment - This has improved tremendously, they are almost comparable to Vegas style shows, which they are touting. The usual entertainment shows are still there, but they have enhanced their other shows too. And now with the recent announcement of concerts, Carnival is becoming top-notch with entertainment. Overall, it was a good experience. Nothing to complain about that would drive me away from Carnival. We did book another cruise while onboard so I wasn't disappointed that much, just a few things could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We are frequent cruisers but have cruised the last few cruises on Celebrity. We came back to Carnival to give it another try because we had heard about how wonderful the Carnival Magic out of Galveston was. It is a wonderful ship. ... Read More
We are frequent cruisers but have cruised the last few cruises on Celebrity. We came back to Carnival to give it another try because we had heard about how wonderful the Carnival Magic out of Galveston was. It is a wonderful ship. Waterworks, rope course, comedians, cruise director Noonan, spa cabin- There is something for everyone on the ship.The Magic also had excellent service and food.. The ship was mostly Texans, a very friendly group. We had beautiful weather for most of our cruise starting with sailaway from Galveston. Montego Bay was sunny in the morning but rained in the afternoon after we went back to the ship. We were hesitant about going out on our own in Jamaica so we used up some OBC and chose the Catamaran Snorkeling with the stop at Margaritaville. Very fun! Had a great time on the inflatable toys out in the water at Margaritaville after trying the famous and very fast waterslide. Grand Cayman started out very stressful. We purchased FTTF to get early tendering in Grand Cayman for a private excursion. We were at the service desk at 6:50 am to get the first tender. Told by staff to wait in lobby and as soon as tendering started, we would be escorted to first boat. Husband happened to look out the window after 7 to see tenders already leaving the ship while we patiently waited in the lobby. Had to ask several more times before we were escorted to the tender boat. Barely made our 8;30 meetup time. Tenders take their time loading even though there are always 3 or 4 other tenders circling waiting for passengers. Takes about 25 minutes to load the tenders. Magic's shiptime never changes so remember Grand Cayman time is 1 hour later if you book a private excursion. We booked a snorkeling excursion with Acquarius Sea Tours here that was the highlight of our trip. Pickup at the dock, snorkeling, pizza, private one on one time with the rays at Stingray City (while watching, across the way, boats packed with hundreds of people all gathered around a single guide and ray), another stop at Starfish Point, delivery back to the dock and free pictures taken by the guide of the whole excursion available on the internet. Could not have had a better day! Next port was Cozumel. Been there lots of times so decided to try America's Cup Racing to get out on the water on a sailboat. Captained the Canadian Boat to the win! I wanted to relax so I was made the Captain. My husband wanted to help sail so he was the Grinder. Fun! So we had a wonderful week on the Magic that all came to a crashing halt when we hit fog and were delayed getting back to port. I know, that's not Carnival's fault. The way they handled debarkation is though. The other reason we purchased FTTF was for getting quickly to the airport after the cruise. Debarkation was the worst we have ever experienced in all of our many cruises. Again, we had FTTF specifically to get off the ship quickly. The FTTF letter delivered to our stateroom even states that we will be among the first to debark the ship. With fog delaying the ship's arrival, we thought FTTF would really help get us to the airport faster. WRONG. We got off the ship fairly quickly just to wait over 50 minutes staring at our luggage at the port, being yelled at by port staff and not being allowed to pick up our zone 1 luggage until all zones had their luggage placed in rows. I don't understand why this happened. When finally allowed to proceed, we were put on a Carnival transport that then sat over 50 minutes to leave for the ride to IAH. The transport arrived 7 minutes before our rebooked plane left which was too late to make the flight. That meant incurring even more rebooking fees and hotel and food costs not to mention missing work and babysitting responsibilities Monday. We had spent a fabulous 7 days on the Magic with all the employees going out of their way to make our vacation special only to be rudely yelled at and dismissed by the port staff. They kept yelling at us to get over in the corner as we watched most of the ship walk off. We were to wait until all luggage was off the boat until we could access ours. The Carnival employee at the transport bus said she is allowed to hold us for an hour before she has to send the bus onto the airport. There were already about ten people on the bus before we got on and they waited the full hour plus for departure. Consequently everyone in front of us was missing their flights. We had to wait for the bus to fill up with a few more stragglers before we could leave. Shame on Carnival. They treated their most valued guests (those with Diamond and Platinum Status and those who paid extra for FTTF) the worst. I wouldn't recommend paying the extra $50. Save your money!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
This was my 57th Cruise, 10th or 11th with Carnival. I have now been upgraded to Platinum status. It does have a few perks. First at this level you have a specific check in line - this was nice, no wait time. After the quick check in you ... Read More
This was my 57th Cruise, 10th or 11th with Carnival. I have now been upgraded to Platinum status. It does have a few perks. First at this level you have a specific check in line - this was nice, no wait time. After the quick check in you have a Platinum waiting lounge that includes ice water, fruit punch and some cookies.....nothing fancy or deluxe about this. You are also given a "priority" boarding pass, so you are among the very first group of people to board the ship when the time allows. Other perks at this level include a "silver/chrome" pin with the ship name and year- are they going to pay me to advertise their product? A plate with four chocolate covered strawberries, and four chocolate covered cookies, a Carnival carry bag that would hold a few beverage cans in a zippered area and net covered area in the top for a beach towel. The best perk for me was on a 7 night or longer cruise they will do three bags of laundry for you at no cost. Each paper bag held about 2 pairs of slacks, 4 shirts, and some socks and undershorts. You leave the bag on the bed and the cabin steward takes it while cleaning your room, The next day your clothes are returned clean and folded in a new bag - nice! I have sailed the Caribbean so many times the ports are not important to me. The cruise is more about not having to cook, clean, drive, mainly just relaxing. I was traveling with a few friends and joined them on two excursions. The first was a half day trip in St. Thomas to Sapphire Beach. This was great. Along with about 14 guests we met just outside the ship on the pier. We were escorted to an open air vehicle - a heavy duty (Ford F-350) truck with 4 rows of seats that each comfortably held 4 adults. We were about 20 minutes late leaving because one of the passengers was traveling with an electric "scooter" or "hover around". This item would not fit in the passenger area of the vehicle. The driver and two men tried every way to turn and twist this item, take it partially apart and it still would not fit. Finally they placed the item inside the cab of the truck next to the driver. When we finally started the journey someone said, "Oh they said wheelchairs were fine on this excursion" Well, many wheel chairs fold in half for easy transport, but scooters do not. If you are traveling with someone that needs a scooter please do yourself and everyone else a favor and find out if these items will work on your excursion. The ride was about 30 minutes with some wonderful "Kodak" moments along the way to Sapphire Beach. The beach was fantastic, we had many gray lounge chairs set up for our party. About half in the sun and the other half under a huge shade tree, for us that would prefer not to get too much sun. Clean restrooms were available, and water equipment to rent if desired, I think goggles, masks, and fins were included. There was also a bar for purchasing beverages and snacks on the beach as well as a few wait staff walking up and down the beach if you just wanted to stay on your lounge chair and be served. The prices for a bucket of six beers was reasonable, they offered both domestic and imported. The second excursion was at Antigua. Just a few blocks from the ship we boarded the "Mystic II" Catamaran for a full day excursion. Soon after boarding we were offered water, fruit punch, or pineapple punch. After about a 30 minute ride we arrived at the 1st of two stops. A very nice, clean unimproved beach. There were a few local vendors selling jewelery and art work, but no pressure at all to purchase. We stayed there about an hour and then we sailed about another 30 minutes to the next beach. This beach had condos and a hotels, but still very nice. Just after we arrived the crew began grilling lunch on the stern of the Catamaran. In less than an hour we were served a wonderful (LARGE) lobster (or chicken if you prefer) along with a few good side items. We were there about 2.5 hours to enjoy the beach before the slow ride back to the ship. This is when things got interesting.... The booze started to flow, the music got loud, as well as some of the passengers. Champagne, Rum, Vodka, and Yum Yum punch were flowing faster than hot butter on an August afternoon in Miami. If you could ask for it, they gave it to you. Thus in a rather short period of time most to the teenagers got quite "twisted". I wonder where the parents of these children were located? On the final 10 minutes back to the ship at least two of the teenage girls were puking their guts out on the bow of the Catamaran. For sure, a class act! THE GOOD - Ship is very clean, maintained very well, and looks great. Employees were happy, friendly, and nice. The only exception was during the last morning of the cruise the wait staff in the dining room at our table, both had a major attitude, and no we were not there 10 minutes before closing time The Posh Dining Room is very attractive. Never a wait for a table at the Lido buffet even during prime time. Broadway style shows were excellent - these guys give 100% and so does the band. 24 hour pizza was great - nice thin crust. 24 hour ice cream and frozen yogurt in three different locations were excellent. The brunch in the Posh Dining Room is a fine new addition, especially for us who like to sleep in. The hallways in the cabin areas are plenty wide for everyone to pass with ease. The BAD- This ship ALWAYS felt crowded. Long lines for just about everything. Mongolian Grill in the Lido has great food but the wait times are between 30 - 45 minutes - do you really want to wait that long for food especially while on vacation? Very slow service in the MDR on all but one evening, took about 2.5 hours from start to finish...why so long? Punchline comedy in the Aft Lounge on deck 5 was packed 30 minutes before the shows began and no seats available. Why is this not held in the large show lounge for everyone to enjoy?? For New Years Eve we were given a paper hat and a paper noise maker - big wow- let's not bust that budget! I really think each cabin should have been treated to a (cheap) bottle of champagne for the celebration that could have been enjoyed at you dining table, in your cabin, or at the celebration on deck. NO you had to buy your own champagne to celebrate. Considering everyone paid a generous premium to cruise this week, I do not think a bottle of champagne would be asking for too much. Other than the Mongolian Wok the food in the Lido was not nearly as good as other ships I have sailed. The only dessert that was good was a chocolate layer cake. Exact same salad bar every day for the first 1/3 of the buffet line. Food in the MDR was not much better. Lobster was good, but very small the meat was the same size as a roll of quarters. One nite I requested prime rib, I was served some thin-thin-thin piece of meat that was way overcooked lathered in heavy brown gravy....what the hell is that? Also avoid the "always available" Salmon - tiny, dry, wayyyyyy overcooked, with skin. = nasty. I would recommend the Veggie Lasagna, the Chateaubriand, and the NY Strip Steak, they all were excellent. I did not have a problem being a "seasoned" cruiser but during the entire week I could see people did not know where they were going on this ship. It is not user friendly, with decks 3 and 4 having the Chic Dining Room in the middle. You must go up do deck 5 or down to deck 2 to get to the other end of the ship. Conclusion- Would I sail on the Freedom again - absolutely not. Would I sail Carnival again - sure but only on the "Spirit" class of ships that include the Legend, Miracle, Spirit, and Pride - these ships have a user friendly deck plan and best space ratio of all the Carnival ships. Next cruise - 01/26/2014 - HAL Ryndam - 14 nights R/T Tampa   Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
EMBARKATION: easy with RTF. OV room nice -Steward good. Weather: stank. I usually get a balcony room but glad I got OV. Balconies were closed most of treat I o due to very rough seas. Couldn't use pool due to weather. This was not a ... Read More
EMBARKATION: easy with RTF. OV room nice -Steward good. Weather: stank. I usually get a balcony room but glad I got OV. Balconies were closed most of treat I o due to very rough seas. Couldn't use pool due to weather. This was not a tropical vacation. We never saw the sun. Most active cities (hairy leg contest, etc ) cancelled due to weather. I went to bot tubs, fitness center most of trip. I d I did 2 massages on port days- deep discount. Steam room was not working most of trip. Our excursion in Bahamas was a nightmare. We were scheduled to do a private beach day. The operators took us despite rain showers. We got in a squall, rocking boat , getting rained on,- cold! They did a tourney tho g and asked for tips while going on nightmare boat ride. So wrong!they took us out to get their tips! AFTER 2 hours of misery they took us back to port and refunded our money. But they Got their tips! That's 2 hours I will never get back.I forgot name of excursion but its very popular. Due to weather, we couldn't port in Little Stirrup Cay. I was looking forward to that. Instead we diverted Freeport.not my favorite, so stayed on boat for cheaper massage. Food was good- went to Magnolian Wok daily,as well as made to order omelettes. ENTERTAINMENT DE T. W E LIKED Motown and Divas. Disembark: We were FTF and had early flights a due to some security issue, did not get off boat until 10ish.Cruise before us was 4 hours late and we didn't start. Boarding til 2. If you like no frills and small boats this cruise is for you. We go on bigger boats usually. We did Magic in Auguast and doing NCl Epic in March. We like more activities and dining choices. I would recommend this for those who want to snooze and cruise. We not go on A WINTER CRUISE AGAIN.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
The Good: -Extremely fast embarkation/debarkation. It took only 15 minutes to embark and 5 minutes to debark. -Delicious food. Food was fresh, still hot, and of high quality. -Ship decor. Some Carnival ship's are gaudy and strange. ... Read More
The Good: -Extremely fast embarkation/debarkation. It took only 15 minutes to embark and 5 minutes to debark. -Delicious food. Food was fresh, still hot, and of high quality. -Ship decor. Some Carnival ship's are gaudy and strange. Not this one; It is just fun. It is themed fun bright colors, Cute Caribbean decor, (Example: Starfish all over the carpet in the room hallways, pictures of fun colored fish throughout the buffet. -CLEANLINESS! This ship is so very well maintained! The crew were constantly cleaning every square inch of it. So impressed. -Staff. Friendly, hardworking staff doing all they can to make your cruise enjoyable. -GORGEOUS spa area. Clean, beautiful, and elegant. -Great stateroom steward that greeted us by name each day and maintained our room very well. -The stateroom balconies were miraculous. They made the cruise for us. Worth every penny! Get a balcony room on the main deck (The lowest deck offering balconies). It is so neat to be that low to the ocean! -Great comedy. Loved laughing the night away. -The sports deck is gorgeous. We loved how it was never crowded. In fact, there were rarely more than 6-8 people up there. The sports deck includes the running track, mini golf course, and just nice areas to sit around by the mini golf course. -The Waterside in the back was super fun. BUT, it will only go fast for you if you give your self a good push and lie on your back! People who just sat down and started going hated it because they hardly moved. It is all dependent on the initial push you give your self going down it. The Bad: -Certain areas of the ship are always crowded, such as the main pool area and buffet. The buffet always had several minute long lines, especially the popular attractions like the Mongolian Grill, and American Grill. -The DJ music is so annoying. What happened to live bands on the lido deck giving you a relaxing resort like feel? Now it's just loud pop music blasted as high as it can go creating a heavy party atmosphere. There was no live music on the lido deck, only that annoying DJ. -The spa is wonderful, but they cheated us the last night of the cruise by closing an hour early. Very unprofessional. I guess that thought the cruise was close enough to done. -Neon lights in the dining room. I actually don't mind Carnival's neon lights throughout the ship. But in the elegant dining room, they need to go. -The wait time for room service is absurd. I first waited on the phone for 5-7 minutes just to be connected to someone to take my order, then you wait an additional 45 minutes for it to show up. -The hot tubs are not even close to hot enough. The swimming pools are freezing and they are all SALT WATER (obviously from the ocean). Step it up Carnival and give us fresh water in the pools. -Carnival doesn't do ice in the rooms any more? This was a disappointment to have to drink room temperature water. They didn't do it on my last cruise or this one. Strange. -This cruise had ALOT of alcohol and drunk people. Didn't really care for that kind of atmosphere. - The safety briefing was too long and disorganized. -The hairy chest men's contest was NOT family friendly. The things they had them do and what the girls did to them made it very suggestive and dirty. One guy got so out of line the director had to completely stop him. To Sum It Up: All in all a great cruise. What I love about Carnival, despite my complaints, is how much of a "bang for your buck" you get. For $200 dollars, this 4 night cruise couldn't have exceeded my expectation more. When you match the money with what you were delivered this cruise gets 5+ stars in a heartbeat. I highly recommend a 4 night cruise (NOT 3! - BOOZE CRUISE - TOO SHORT) on the Carnival Ecstasy.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
Had a great time, Carnival never disappoints. Drove to the port and parked in the port parking lot. Arrived around 1100 am we went platinum this year but did not have room to set in the special waiting area too many Faster to the fun ... Read More
Had a great time, Carnival never disappoints. Drove to the port and parked in the port parking lot. Arrived around 1100 am we went platinum this year but did not have room to set in the special waiting area too many Faster to the fun people there already. When they started boarding they went into the special waiting room first so good thing we we're watching or they might have skipped over us. When we got on the ship our room was ready so we dropped off the bags and began to explore the ship. Ate at the Tandor station in the buffet loved it food was great. Indian food in MDR was awful, didn't work out for me. Loved the BBQ on the Lani little burgers were the best. Went to the Pasta station above the Buffet was told it was a 40 min wait but I looked around and set down anyway. Got our food in less than 8 min but it was bland and too much water. Ate in the Steak House one evening and it was wonderful. We did not watch all the shows as the singers and dancers are boring, we did however enjoy Gumbie the assist cruise director, be sure to ask him to show you how he got his nickname. We enjoyed the ventriloquist show something out of the ordinary. Do not miss the Comedy shows Carnival scores perfect with this bunch. The MDR staff was the best and the brunch sea days were my favorite. Don't miss the Eggs Ranchiro, yum. The pool areas had too many people for me good thing we had the Spa rooms to relax in. Liked the Movie at sea on the big screen, Carnival is still a fun ships but now I think I want a more relaxing and elegant cruise and for a few dollars more I can have that. I don't think that Carnival has changed that much but I have. The water works slides were wild.. Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
This was our 12th cruise. We have cruised to Mexico, Alaska, Caribbean and Transatlantic. This was our 4th cruise to Mexico. Our first on Carnival to Mexico. 3rd Carnival cruise. Other lines we have cruised are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, ... Read More
This was our 12th cruise. We have cruised to Mexico, Alaska, Caribbean and Transatlantic. This was our 4th cruise to Mexico. Our first on Carnival to Mexico. 3rd Carnival cruise. Other lines we have cruised are Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, Princess, and Costa. We are equal opportunity cruisers. We have sailed on the large ships over 4000 passengers and smaller ships under 2000. And the best deal gets us as passengers. We are both gamblers so we usually get casino rates or free cruises through the lines. We are in our mid 50's and have been cruising since our early 40's. (wished we had started earlier.) Now that is our background We did a faster to the fun pass on this cruise. (best thing ever) I almost hate to even mention it here as only so many are allowed and I want it the next time I cruise Carnival (maybe Dec). You are treated as priority on the same level as diamond and platinum. When we got to the port to check in there was a long line. We were taken to the front. Then we went to the holding area. (Long Beach is not my favorite port because it is not as well organized as other ports I have been in) Once they put all of the special needs people in 1 line they opened a line for us. Once we got to the ship we were welcomed as the first to board. We went and dropped our carry-ons (luggage was already there). I unpacked and pored a glass of champagne. and then set out to explore the ship. had some lunch and went back to the room so I could see the wake as we sailed off. All of the people above and below us were talking and laughing. It was a good way to start a cruise The Miracle is one of my favorite cruises. While holding over 2100 passengers it never felt crowded. I love to spend my days at the pool and there was never a problem finding a chair open. That was a big plus. Waiters were plentiful but not too pushy as other ships have been. Was always comfortable at the pool. We always book a balcony room. Usually the first room forward that we can go. I used to be a smoker so there was no other option. now there still is no other option as I still love to sit on the balcony and also love sleeping with the door open. (my only drawback to Carnival is that their doors are not sliding doors so they have to be propped open.) This trip I wanted to try an aft balcony and I was able to. It was glorious. I would highly recommend. There are usually only about 20 of these rooms on a normal size ship so book early. I was lucky to get one that was saved for 3 people. And I had to keep checking the website to be able to get it. finally got it 2 weeks before the cruise. For dining we choose the anytime dining. I usually like the late seating and sitting with a group of people and getting to know them. This time we went this route. We are people that like to go in, eat and get out. sometimes you cannot do that with a large group. We were luck to get the same waiter every night. and he never forgot our names or what we liked to drink. I do not eat any seafood so he always would suggest what I should eat. And if there were 2 things he thought I would like and he would suggest we get 1 of the other and both at least taste it. I also eat the warm chocolate melting lava cake every night on the cruise. (best ever) he would always have that waiting and then while I was eating it make sure that I also got one of the special desserts of the night. I might not eat them all but I at least tried it. His name is Pong. And he never failed when he saw me anywhere on the ship to come up and say hi and call me by name. We also ate one night at Nick and Nora's steakhouse. It is an extra $35 but so worth it. One of the best steakhouses I have eaten at. They bring the steaks to your table to choose which you would like. They explain about each steak. I would suggest ordering the steak without the special rubs on it. And the cook it in the room where you are sitting. Nice touch. Horatio's buffet is really one of the best buffet's on a ship that I have had. There was more variety than I have seen on other ships. There were never lines because there were so many sections. They have pizza 24 hours a day. Best pizza ever. I highly suggest the 4 cheese. They also have a deli to order. I loved being able to order a sandwich and have a panini made right there on the spot. There was a Chinese food space, Salad space, a few hamburger stands, all American food sections, dessert section, omelette station. Too many to list all. These are the ones we went to. We were supposed to be at sea 1 day then stop at Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and then 2 days at sean on the way back. Well as we all know how mother nature works there was a storm near Cabo. (didn't hit but did make the water rough there and the tenders would not have been able to make it to shore) so we bypassed it and did 2 days at sea, then Puerto Vallarta, Cabo and 1 day at sea. All great weather. I have a friend who lives in Puerto Vallarta so we spent the day with him and his partner. I suggest that people go to Old Puerto Vallarta. There are a lot of cute stores there. The cruise lines will not advertise them because they do not pay the cruise lines to advertise their stores. A lot of people own the from the U.S. We booked an excursion in Cabo San Lucus. I was not sure if we would since we have been there a few times. (I prefer to stay on the boat but my husband likes to get off on land. Since he lets me cruise when I want, 3 times in last 13 months, I get off on shore.) I booked at the last minute and it was one of my favorite tours ever. Camel & Mexican Outback Adventure. We had Chicas as our tour guide. He was great. This was a 30 minute bus ride and before we knew it we were on our safari trucks. They took us to a section of the beach where there was camels waiting to be rode. We took photos with them and then we climbed the stairs to get on the camel. We got on and my first thought was (we need to get off this) but I stayed on and we were lead down to the beach. a camel ride is not what you expect. very strange feeling. after about 30 minutes of riding on the beach we were taken back and got off. we then got back in our safari trucks. we were driven about 4 minutes away and lo and behold there was a desert with lots of cactus. We got out of our trucks for a 30 minute walk. Chicas gave a wonderful nature talk. then we went back to the truck and took a short ride to an outdoor eating area where the cooks were making us some lunch. It was fantastic. Some very spicy. (which I like) I also added sauce. Well when Chicas saw me doing that he took me back to where the employees get their sauce and I had that. muy caliente and delicious! We had some tequila learned how to make tortillas and then back to our truck for the ride back to the bus. I don't ever by photos from tours (even the dolphins) but I did buy these. really worth the $50. I am glad I did not book my shore trip thru a private company as we would not have been there the day we were supposed to. To me it is worth the security and extra money to know I will make my tour and that the ship will not leave without me if we are late getting back. (we weren't but I have seen ships leave without people as they are standing on the dock yelling for the ship to wait, it won't) We then had another day at sea. I have always wanted to take a behind the scenes tour of a ship. I booked this one. (only 16 passengers can go on the tour) worth the $99. 3 1/2 hours of all the workings of the ship. If you have ever wondered how they run it, this is for you. everything from the freezer where ice cream is stored, meat locker, engine room, the crews dining rooms, laundry rooms, to bridge and visiting with the captain. With photos that they gave us. They wash the sheets and then have a machine that dries and folds it all in one. amazing. Also was taken to the kitchen where we saw how everything was run. It is hard to believe that they can put out so many meals like clockwork. (our waiter Pong saw me and came over to say Hi Ruby and at dinner that night ask me for details of the tour.) The people who worked in the casino were excellent. From the 1st night we got on the ship I was offered a free drink and every night and day they would come and talk and offer me drinks. My husband always wonders why everyone knows my name as we walk on the ship. He is shy. I am not. My only problem was I had read about the chef's dinner here on Cruise Critic, so as soon as we got on the ship I went to book it. They had 2 dates. I choose the second one (only 12 people on each date) Extra charge but I wanted to try it. Well the next day ours was cancelled and then they moved us to the 1st day. Then they called the next day and canceled. I was disappointed. After we got back from port on day 3 there was a message that it was back on so we were happy. Until the next day and it was canceled again for the final time. When we took the tour of the ship I ask the head check, Wellington, (I could not make that up) about it. He explained how there has to be at least 8 people as it is a big production. He also said that this was the 1st cruise he has ever been on where there was not one. And usually they are booked before a ship every sets sail. I now know for the next cruise to call the line and book ahead of time. And everyone on our tour heard us talking about it and had never heard of it and everyone said they would have done it. It is not advertised. Since we were faster to the fun we could get off of the sip when we wanted. Our luggage was in a special area. We got it and was heading to the car before most people were even out of the room. 10:30am arrival in port so it was not too early. Made me sad to see all of those people waiting to get on "MY" ship as I was getting off of it. a little jealous as they were heading to Hawaii for 15 days. Until next time "Bon Voyage"   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
I have sailed Carnival on a few occasions. The following is what to expect on the Paradise. Embarkation: Tampa has valet parking. A nice option we took advantage of for $20.00 more. We were in the grand suite so we had priority boarding. ... Read More
I have sailed Carnival on a few occasions. The following is what to expect on the Paradise. Embarkation: Tampa has valet parking. A nice option we took advantage of for $20.00 more. We were in the grand suite so we had priority boarding. Very smooth boarding, but I did miss not having a steward escort us to our room. We were on our own to find it. It was a lovely cabin with a leather sectional sofa, additional club chairs, large dressing/makeup area, nice size walk in closet and bathroom. I did not like that they automatically put the tip for cabin steward, waiters/waitresses on the bill. We are generous tippers and the service was much better before they started doing this. Now they are a bit lacking in the service dept. The ship is showing it's age. We expected that, but not as much maintenance going on in ports as there used to be. The ship is slightly inconvenient getting from deck to deck. Watch the prices for jewelry in the onboard gift shop. You can do much better at a port, however you must haggle.The food: We are not big eaters. The Lido deck buffet was not good with the exception of the Mongolian Grill which we ate at once during embarkation. The rest we ate in the dining room. I would rate the food good, not great. The warm melting cake varied every night from fair to excellent. No other dessert was anything to rave about. No more midnight buffets. We never ate at them anyway so we didn't miss it. A bathing suit from a previous guest was found behind the shower curtain. We had been showering in there for 3 days prior to the discovery. The spa was fabulous! My husband had his teeth whitened and I had a keratin hair treatment, cut and blowout. Purchase the products to take home to maintain the beautiful hair! The truly are great. Disembarkation is quick and easy or laid back and easy. Your choice. All in all we had a wonderful time spending time together. We always cruise in suites and it's back to Celebrity Cruise Lines for us. Carnival is about fun, Celebrity is about luxury.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We took this trip because we had never tried CARNIVAL. We selected the newest and largest ship. Remembering all the bad press that Carnival has had in the recent past, we figured that they would not have any of the problems with a 1 year ... Read More
We took this trip because we had never tried CARNIVAL. We selected the newest and largest ship. Remembering all the bad press that Carnival has had in the recent past, we figured that they would not have any of the problems with a 1 year old boat. THE GOOD CREW WAS GOOD, not great but good DINING the SAPPHIRE our time dining was INCREDIBLE EMBARKATION was fast and easy DEBARKATION was fast and easy GUY FERRIES worlds best burgers BLUE IGUANA very good burritos and taco salads MONGOLIAN WOK great NANTOON excellent fry bread and fare THE BAD BUFFET almost same food every night and they closed some serving lines so the wait was STUPID LONG LIVE OVATION SHOWS 2 of the entertainers had no business on the boat they were professional and it showed. The rest of the entertainers need a captive audience. POOLS small and overcrowded CASINO small and overcrowded LENGTH OF TIME IN PORTS some ports only had a 4 hours stay, takes 30 min. to get off the boat and 30 min to get back on DRINKS EXPENSIVE!!!!! THE UGLY SEWAGE smell on lower decks GREASE cooking smell on fantail pool and sundeck MAIN POOL has a 50 foot screen and they run and rerun the same music videos and interviews... CONSIDERING THE BAD & UGLY If you're on a limited budget THIS IS THE BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK!!!!!   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our third trip out of NY with Carnival. The other two were with Miracle, a ship we prefer. We caught a direct bus out of Newburgh, as we live North of NY. The bus is run by Yankee Trails and is highly recommended and reasonably ... Read More
This was our third trip out of NY with Carnival. The other two were with Miracle, a ship we prefer. We caught a direct bus out of Newburgh, as we live North of NY. The bus is run by Yankee Trails and is highly recommended and reasonably priced. Certainly cheaper then parking at the NY Dock. Sailing out of NY was wonderful as always. It is a thrilling sail away. How foolish for the spa to run their, must be present lottery for spa credit during sail away. I left. We booked a spa cabin for access to the spa steam,sauna,hot pool, and easy access to the serenity area with it's padded lounge chairs. This turned out to be a waste of extra money. We love spas and use them frequently. This spa was ridiculously overpriced (and we're New Yorkers who travel). They certainly had spa sales where the prices became reasonable ie $60 for a massage, but the offered times for good prices were not. So we went without. As to access to the thallasotherapy pool, they couldn't have made it harder. You had to trade your sail away card for a spa card and get a band around your wrist every single time you wanted to use the pool as it was kept locked. Why not have my sail away card automatically keyed for the spa areas, since I was in a spa cabin? Very inconvenient. Anyway the thallasotherapy pool was empty on various days for " maintenance". And closes at 10 for the night, just when we would have wanted to go in. The cabin itself was standard but had a slightly larger balcony then the others. The Elemis toiletries were lovely. Our steward was perfect. Kept us in ice and emptied the fried so we could use it for our own soda. We brought plastic cups and made ourselves sodas in the room to take out to sit in the sun with. As to the Serenity area, yes the padded lounge chairs are wonderful, but anyone has access to them and most of the people were not spa cabin people. Also, this area is at the front, top of the ship. It is the coldest and windiest so unusable for the first and last day of the cruise. Overall it was a relaxing cruise. We laid around for 4 sea days and went to the beach for three shore days. Half Moon Cay was our favorite and we would have been happy just staying there for the three port days. The beach is soft white sand and the water is gorgeous and warm. Lunch is easy right behind the beach. Do pay the $20 for a clamshell as soon as you get there, as they run out midday, when people decide they need them. Clamshells protect two people from two much sun and in case it drizzles. Prop up the back to catch the breeze. Grand Turk beach is so rocky that if you don't have water shoes, you will avoid going in as it is painful. We walked to the free beach in Nassau, Junkaroo and paid $20 for two lounge chairs and an umbrella, and $30 for a shared lunch on the beach. But it's not great. If we go back, we'll go over to Dreams, pay $60 a person and get a better beach, free lunch and free drinks. We enjoyed most of our meals in the MDR. My husband had the flat iron steak most nights and was quite happy. It does take two hours but our table mates were pleasant and we enjoyed dining with them. We were seated by the window on the edge of the dining room, which sounds wonderful, however the window was filthy and we couldn't see any of the singing and dancing that mostly happened in the center of the dining room. We also used the MDR for breakfast, as we're not buffet people. We realized that the waiters were getting all the food at once, serving your fruit first and letting your eggs or pancakes get cold waiting. They all did this so they must be trained to do this. Very silly. By the last few days we learned to specify that we wanted our hot food first and would have our fruit afterwards. This solved the cold breakfast problem. The MDR was not available for lunch. So we had to use the buffet. We enjoyed the deli sandwiches, but had to go to another station for the fries to go with them. They should have fries available, right where the sandwiches are. The punch liner does not do brunch despite what the advertising says. The MDR had the brunch from about 8-1. Which was breakfast and an excuse not to do lunch. We enjoyed the shows and comedy. They were amusing and took up our evenings. Our friends enjoyed the piano bar most. Keith was good, but not every night. To get good seats for the shows, you need to be about 15 minutes early. When we came at the last minute our seats were just ok, off to the side and in the rear. Embarkation and Disembarkation were unremarkable and well organized as they should be. The captains reception no longer offers free drinks for past customers, so we skipped it. Instead they give you 2 drink coupons to be used in the MDR during brunch. As we only drink in the evening, I used them for cappuccino which is no longer free at breakfast. I would do this cruise and Carnival again only if the price is extremely advantageous. This must be the general thought as Carnival is in cost saving mode. We paid $1700 for two with transportation and aqua spa balcony cabin. It was too much for what we got, given multiple small disappointments.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
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