We are experienced cruisers. We chose this cruise as a family so our grandkids could experience cruising for the first time. It was a choice of economy, as we have only done Carnival one other time. There were some good and some not so ... Read More
We are experienced cruisers. We chose this cruise as a family so our grandkids could experience cruising for the first time. It was a choice of economy, as we have only done Carnival one other time. There were some good and some not so good experiences, but it is important to keep your expectations in check. For us, it was being with family and watching our grandkids have many first-time experiences! CHECK!
I must say that I felt sorry for the staff as the boat was oversold and understaffed. It was hard to move about the boat and one small pool on the Lido deck is not enough. They have the pool in the adult only area, but many of the adults with no kids chose to sit around the pool on the main deck. We ended up at the back of the ship by the slides which was quieter and allowed us to get wet when we were too hot. JUST TOO MANY PEOPLE! Though this was Spring Break time, we heard there were even more people on the boat the week before. Not sure if this is standard numbers, or just because it was Spring Break time, but nonetheless, it isn't fair to the staff or the travelers.
It was hard to get a drink of any sort, even if you went up to the bar. My grandson stood in line behind 3 people with his Bubbles card and he was completely ignored by the wait staff and other guests. Our daughter and family purchased beverage packages for the kids and it was nearly impossible to get drinks, even at dinner time. They also purchased the adult beverage package and same problem. It seemed once they knew you had the package, they waited on other passengers first. My daughter complained and they refunded her package prices. Interestingly enough, that evening after they took their stickers off their cards, the sodas were waiting for the kids in their places when we arrived for dinner and such was the case each night. Not sure what their internal policies are for those that purchase the package, but unless you drink ALOT, it does not pay for itself and you will receive substandard service.
We loved the activities of the slides, skywalk, foosball, pool tables, chess, Twister, etc. that were available on this ship because of the kids. We spent most afternoons and evenings as a family playing games and this is my fondest memory of the cruise. This of course may not be the case if you do not have children (or grandchildren) who would enjoy these activities. The slides were great! Two were fast and one was slower. The kids and adults enjoyed the slides!
We were in cabin 2215 and it was roomy, well equipped and adequate for our limited time in the room. Our steward Elio was very attentive and learned our names and schedules but was not intrusive. Our daughters was invasive and never learned their schedule and while they were napping, he would knock on the door. We loved ELIO. Sadly, he was sick the last day and we were unable to compliment him personally for his quietly attentive service and give him an additional tip. We gave it to his assistant and made sure he knew we appreciated their hard work. Bed was not all that comfortable and there is a deck above the room and often times there would be banging of lounge chairs or sliding them across the floor. We had very noisy neighbors! There was a large group of people traveling together who partied into the night and then roamed the halls going room to room. I looked out once and they laughed at me asking if someone had tried to come into our room. They had no clue they were being disruptive. People need to be more considerate of others, especially at night!
Our waiters at table 121 in the main dining were friendly and attentive, but despite sitting next to the kitchen, we were often the last ones in the dining room. The wait staff tried very hard to provide good service, but often our wine came at the time of dessert, if at all. As well as the kids' drinks before cancelling the package. Several times we asked for stuff and never received it and the waiter said "Oh, I forgot!" He was very cordial about it, but I think they were just understaffed.
The food was just "OK!" Good variety, but for healthy eaters who don't like a lot of carbs, gravies, grease or sauces, it was a little disappointing. I tried something new each night and better descriptions on the menu would have been helpful as I am a picky eater due to health reasons, but often couldn't eat what I ordered. My daughter didn't eat hers a couple of nights either as it wasn't what we expected. Our kids and grandkids loved the chocolate cake. My husband loved the variety of desserts and tried something new each night. I only had bites, but found the desserts good. We still tipped the wait staff as they really did try, but there could be much improvement done in the dining experience.
We celebrated our anniversary and our son-in-law's birthday while on the ship. The wait staff almost forgot and when almost everyone was gone, we got a cute song by our waiters and MORE dessert after already having dessert. It was such a sweet gesture, but not well planned. Again, I think because it was the first night and they were understaffed, service was compromised.
We did appreciate the $25 wine certificate and $50 Spa certificate we got for our Anniversary. We did not use the Spa certificate as we use spa services at home locally that are much more economical, but we enjoyed the wine certificate, only paying $10 plus tip for a bottle of wine. It was compliments of our Cabin Steward the card said, so THANK YOU! Our Son-in-Law got two wine certificates and one spa for his birthday.
We did not do any excursions through the ship. We were among the last tendered to Half Moon Cay and enjoyed walking the beach, laying in lawn chairs, renting a floating mattress and snorkel gear and the ship buffet which was very good. Had something for everyone and was plentiful. We enjoyed walking along the sidewalk paths and finding little surprises. A misting station among one of them. Again, bar service was not good at all. Saved us money though! I did find a little bar with two workers on the way to the buffet tucked behind the wooden Captain Morgan ship, so go there if you want a drink faster. The water was amazingly beautiful. Nothing to see while snorkeling right there, but we were just getting the kids used to the process and playing around in the water. BE sure to check the expiration date on your sunscreen and don't use it if left over from the year before. We had lots of red feet and faces at the dinner table, despite good intentions.
In Nassau, we were very disappointed in the condition of the port area. The people were clingy, rude, and the odor was horrible. Prices in some larger shops were very high. We went back onto the ship after walking around for a bit while waiting for our kids and grands to meet up. We ended up doing the Catamaran Snorkel through the ship and it was another highlight of the trip. The 8:30 cruise was crammed full of people, but the 11:30 one had perhaps 20 people and we got personal service from the "Yes Dear" crew. I was glad, as it was our grandchildren's first time out in the ocean away from shore to snorkel. We saw A LOT OF FISH, stingrays, starfish, etc. It wasn't the best snorkeling we have ever done, but for our family, it was perfect! After snorkeling, we did walk to Senor Frogs and went to the bathroom and party was well underway. Certainly not a place for kids, but we had to go! We got some Rum Cakes, other souvenirs and got back onto the ship. We did not feel safe quite honestly.
Freeport port area was very clean and quaint. The people were quiet solicitors and had some great cultural wares. We took a taxi to Junkanoo beach. It was $14 round trip plus tip. You will be given a card to be used for the return trip, so don't give the driver the full tip as we still tipped our return driver. Our taxi driver to the beach was a little crude in describing the culture (much drinking, carousing, etc.) but woven in was a good lesson on the culture with regard to education and medicine. He needed to be more mindful of his passengers and presence of kids and Grandma's.
Junkanoo beach was nice, but nothing fantastic. The rent Jet-ski's, kayaks, etc. We were in the sun and pretty water, had lawn chairs that were pretty worn and an umbrella too which I believe our kids paid for. Pretty small and we were gouged for snorkeling masks and the area did not offer much in terms of fish or sea life, except for sea urchins.
With 7 people, the excursions can get a little expensive. I am so glad we did do the catamaran though!
Overall, the ship was fine for us as our priorities were to be with our family doing what they wanted to do and sharing in the many "first's" they experienced. This is not a ship that will wow you you, nor did we really expect it to. Our ocean view room on floor two worked well for us. We usually get balcony and realized we don't need to pay the extra. We did not smell the sewer smell at all that many have mentioned. The windows were dirty on all levels so taking photos out the windows did not work well.
The embarkation and debarkation were very good, except there was a little back-up in the beginning and security had to stop putting people through. But at the ports, it seemed very smooth to us, though we were not doing excursions and got off at our leisure. One thing we noticed is that despite warnings on the website, policies and signs at the Port, lots of people still brought bottled water and juices aboard and, they were all taken. Do not bring plastic bottles onto the ship or you will lose them. We did order before we went and it was waiting in our room when we arrived.
With the move to more casual dining, it seems most ships have lost the wow factor with ice sculptures, food carvings, and exceptional service as in days gone by. If you are not a seasoned cruiser, you would not miss it. We sure did and while we realize Carnival was the least expensive for all of our family to go, we can honestly say it won't be a contender for future cruises. Read Less