This cruise was a new experience for us (never been to Europe) and absolutely wonderful! I am starting to realize just how "ship-based" cruising experiences are opposed to the company that is hosting the sailing (i.e. Royal ... Read More
This cruise was a new experience for us (never been to Europe) and absolutely wonderful! I am starting to realize just how "ship-based" cruising experiences are opposed to the company that is hosting the sailing (i.e. Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian, etc.). Me and my 62 year old mother went on this cruise, and we were very pleased with most about this cruise and the ship.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: We've sailed on both Norwegian Cruise Lines, and Carnival Cruise Lines, and have often said that customer service on Norwegian Cruise Lines is better. This ship had the most proactive and responsive customer service I've ever experienced on a Carnival ship. When we arrived to the cabin, we had the water we'd previously paid for already in our room, and customer service immediately called to ask my mother whether she brought her CPAP machine (for her sleep apnea), and if she would be needing distilled water for it. One reason for the 4/5 rating in this category is that it took several hours after that telephone call, and a couple of calls before we received the water. However, we did appreciate the proactivity. As with most Carnival experiences, there were certain issues throughout the cruise that we had to bring up to customer service, but they were promptly, and politely responded to. The workers here were overall more considerate, kind, and responsive than any other Carnival ship I've been on (Breeze, Splendor, Liberty).
FOOD: The food was CONSIDERABLY better than on any other Carnival ship. Even the food on the buffet was more flavorful and better prepared. The foods in the dining rooms were most often superb, and definitely in the specialty restaurants. Typically, Carnival food is mediocre at best. Whichever Chef you have on this ship who is responsible for the food - KEEP HIM. Lots of great restaurants to choose from. Didn't get to try to the Asian or the Italian restaurant on this ship, but heard they were really good from other guests.
EXCURSIONS: Carnival offered excursions that we had a good time on, but I think they need some fine tuning. Overall, most of the excursions offered were just way too long, and were like history lessons and school field trips, vs. vacations (particularly in Rhodes, Greece and Valleta, Malta. I"m not really sure how Carnival can rectify this, other than finding tour guides that are more engaging and less talky. Some of this can't be avoided because if you want to spend a day in the country learning about it, there is no other way. The Italy excursion guides seemed to understand this concept. They provided history about the city, but also knew when to shut the heck up and let you relax. I think offering more excursions where you can enjoy certain aspects of the country you are visiting (there is no way you can learn every single thing about each country you visit), would serve them well. Also, spending 8-10 hours a day on an excursion every day is exhausting. We had to end up cancelling two of the excursions just to allow ourselves some rest. More 4 hour excursions (as opposed to 10 hours) should be offered so that people have more free time to do what they want without someone talking at them. Going to these countries, you are going to be walking a lot, so if you are going to be bringing any senior citizens or babies with you with walking issues, maybe you should arrange something to wheel them around in all day.
EMBARKATION: Was a breeze! We didn't get there until 4pm on embarkation day. We literally walked right up to the desk and got on the ship. Our luggage was at our room within an hour or two at most. Just awesome.
DEBARKATION: Great that we didn't have to go through customs, so we could easily find our suitcases without waiting in line. The directions on how to get to your Carnival Transfer (to the airport or hotel) in Barcelona were absolutely horrible. There was no one to tell you where to go and you had a bunch of people outside packed like sardines trying to figure out where the heck to meet. This was not acceptable because we'd asked a couple of folks on Carnival a few times during the cruise about what we should expect during this process, and they either gave misinformation, or not much to offer. The workers in Barcelona that are outside during this process are pretty useless as it relates to giving information - so beware.
CLEANLINESS: Overall, the ship was pretty clean in the common areas. The cruise director stressed washing your hands every five seconds (not a common trait on carnival ships although it is on norwegian ships) because rumor had it that a few people on the cruise were discovered to have Norovirus (like on Day 2 of the cruise). They never announced it, but people put two and two together and many workers on the cruise told a few people what was going on. I'm not sure whether it was the air change, the air circulation in the ship, or what....but a lot of people also had sinus issues. Mom and I both had cold symptoms the entire cruise, but we were basically ok. I know others who also had sinus issues....but this could have been coincidental. They may want to look into the air circulation.
ENTERTAINMENT: Due to the intense excursions (only 2 out of 10 sea days), we didn't experience much of the entertainment other than the comedy shows, the club (me not mom) and the casino. But there seemed to be a variety of activities at night and I didn't ever feel bored. I do think they should offer a bit more to do during the day for those that are not getting off the boat. There were times where I was on the ship early and twiddling my thumbs a bit. Lots of activities at night that I didn't even get a chance to participate in because there were only a few hours after the excursions and after you ate dinner, you were so exhausted that you picked ONE activity , and that was it. But there are several movies to choose from (both on TV Demand and each night offered to watch publicly with other guests), virtual simulator and 3D movies (didn't get to try this) with actual popcorn, and a variety of outdoor activities. For the most part, it got to be a bit chilly toward the end of our cruise so the last thing I wanted to do was hang out outside at night.
OVERALL SHIP: Great! Pretty, lots to do, and set up pretty great. Read Less