This was the first time my family cruised, and my father wanted a port close to home. Charleston is 2 hours away from where we live. My SO and I (mid 30s), my sister and niece, and my parents (mid 60s), cruised together, having staterooms ... Read More
This was the first time my family cruised, and my father wanted a port close to home. Charleston is 2 hours away from where we live. My SO and I (mid 30s), my sister and niece, and my parents (mid 60s), cruised together, having staterooms next to one another on the Empress deck.
This review is based on my opinions, and since we've never cruised before, I have nothing to base any of this off of other than our experiences this past weekend.
Embarkation was fine. It was a long line but the process itself was okay. I've waited in much longer lines at various airports. We selected the 12:00-12:30 boarding and finally got on the ship shortly after 1.
Debarkation today was okay. A bit disorganized and the line took a while to move, but we were just thankful to be back in Charleston.
Overall, we found out that we just aren't cruise people. It's okay. Different strokes for different folks. We are glad to have experienced cruising but all feel that it's just not for us. This ship seemed to be filled with a bunch of party animals, which is fine I suppose but the drunken belligerence got worse as the cruise went on.
Last night at 10:20 as we were preparing to go to bed, we heard a ton of commotion in the hallway outside of our room. Someone was yelling and cursing, dropping f-bombs and you could hear bodies being thrown against walls. We opened the door to see what was going on, and doors up and down the hallway were open with people looking out, watching an all-out brawl between 2 men, one of whom had his head split open, blood pouring out his face, dripping it all over the carpet and the walls in the hallway, where it remained this morning as we exited. Just something to keep in mind, and I'm sure it happens on most ships, but I figured I'd put it out there for anyone that's never cruised before. I tried to find a way to call security but there was literally nothing on the phone that said what to dial. I guess 911 would've worked since I'm sure the one guy needed his face stitched up, but two employees in the hallway said to call room service and they'd call security. You would think there would be a direct number to call. Either way, it took security a while to get there, and other passengers were having to keep these 2 morons apart from each other.
Food: We ate Guy's burgers the first day and they were okay. Nothing special. Fries were good. We had tacos several times that were DELICIOUS!! I don't know what kind of seasoning dust they put on those tortillas but it.is.amazing!! That night we had dinner in the dining room. Food was decent but nothing overwhelmingly tasty. Our server, Paul, was very nice and helpful and when telling him of an allergy, he went out of his way to ensure that none of food served contained those items, going so far as to bring the next nights menu for me to preview. The crab cake on the second night was amazing, as was the creme brulee. I didn't care for the melting chocolate cake -- it was soupy and gross! (Sorry, I know some of you are die hard fans!!) The other two nights we ate the buffet.
Buffet on Lido deck was a disappointment the times we ate there, minus breakfast. Honestly, I think Golden Corral might be better, and certainly gives more options. The desserts were bland and tasteless. Most of the meats I tried were overcooked almost to the point of being inedible. The "soft serve ice cream" was more like ice milk and had a weird, granular texture -- definitely didn't taste like any soft serve I've had before. The pizza was good. I enjoyed the prosciutto pizza several times. The deli has decent sandwiches!! The dessert offerings between Guys and Blue Iguana were often warm, mushy, and gross. They should find a way to keep those chilled because the humidity and temperature made the textures terrible!
Cabin: We stayed in E126 -- it had a window!! Again, I have nothing to compare it to, but it worked for the two of us. Ample closet space, the storage height under the beds was adequate for our luggage. The bathroom was probably the only downside to the room. It was horribly awkward trying to shave in such a small space. I've done it before in a tiny bathroom in an rv, but just because I've had that previous experience doesn't mean it was less awkward! lol Prior to booking this cruise, I was certain that I would be okay in an interior room but having spent the majority of my time in the room this trip, there is no way I would have survived without a window. Our steward, Kadek, was friendly and kept the room perfectly clean and kept our ice buckets filled. He was great!
As I said before, this boat was full of party people. I suppose that's great, and in my late teens and early 20s, I probably would've enjoyed that atmosphere, but in all, this cruise was anything but relaxing. The Serenity deck is small. It has 4 umbrellas. The 2 hot tubs hold maybe 4-6 people each. The cushions on the chairs are stained terribly and just generally do not look good.
The pool on the Lido deck was very small. We didn't have a chance to use it, as it was usually full of people, obviously. The mini-golf is on the very top, which is quite possibly, the stupidest place you could put mini-golf. It was so windy that it was impossible to play, with the very child-sized clubs and foam balls. Also, it seemed to be a popular spot for the aforementioned drunk and belligerent crowd, who had great fun whacking the ball(s) as hard as they could across the ship. We didn't see any shows (though others in the party did and enjoyed them). The casino was small but those who used it had fun.
All in all, I don't feel I really utilized enough of the ship to make cruising worth my while. Admittedly, I am a loner; I enjoy peace and quiet and serenity, which seems to be the opposite of what cruising is, at least on this particular ship. I'm sure for someone who's a people person, or enjoys a lot of activities and nightlife, this would be a perfect ship. Next time, we'll fly directly to an island and spend more time sightseeing.
I did spend the $5 for the Carnival Hub chat feature, as did 3 others in our party. It was somewhat helpful but there were a lot of glitches wherein our messages wouldn't go through, etc. One feature that app should have is the ability to "favorite" dining times. You can favorite activities, but the dining doesn't have that ability, which could have been helpful for remembering different things we wanted to try.
One last word: port day was Nassau. We decided to walk to Junkanoo beach on the advice of several people. The walk isn't too bad -- maybe 15 minutes -- we were approached by at least 20 people trying to get us to buy cigars or take tours, etc. We simply told them no and they left us alone. Once at Junkanoo Beach, we found the Tiki Bikini Hut, which was recommended to us. We were approached by a server there who offered us 2 chairs, an umbrella, and 8 drink tickets for $85. We probably could've haggled but it was hot, I was tired from the walk, and I just wanted to sit down. This "beach" is so small, so crowded, and there is construction literally right beside you. It was NOT relaxing. The water was great -- cool, crystal clear -- but for the price we paid, I wish we'd taken a taxi to a resort and bought day passes to somewhere with more beach, more amenities, less noise, less construction, less people. They really cram you in a small space on this part of Junkanoo Beach!! Read Less