We are an active couple in our 60's who do one or two cruises a year. The last two/three years we have found the Celebrity Solstice class ships particularly to our liking (Especially the "Aqua Class") We haven't done a Carnival cruise since 1998 as our very first cruise was on the Carnival Ecstasy (The infamous fire cruise of "98). We picked this particular cruise for its itinerary, the time of year, the new ship and the value. We also were wondering how the newest Carnival product would stack up against the competition. We were optimistic but had low expectations.
Except for one area we would give the Carnival Breeze good grades and would not hesitate to recommend it to fellow cruisers but with some cautionary thoughts.
Boarding process: In Venice it was slick as a whistle and was on the ship and in the stateroom within 30 minutes of arriving at the terminal. One hint in Venice is to share a dedicated water Taxi from your hotel (Look on Critic's "Roll Call" for people to share the Taxi and the cost.) to the port. It drops you off within easy walking distance and they handle the luggage right where the Taxi let's you off. Very painless.
Stateroom; We had a Cloud 9 Spa Balcony Cabin on Deck 12 and it was fine. bed was comfortable, plenty of storage and bathroom was a good size. The shower was not quite up to "Aqua class" standards but was still fine. This stateroom got you unlimited access to the Spa facilities which were every equal of Celebrities. Since it was on the same floor as the stateroom it was very easy to use. The "Spa" people were friendly and didn't push products or services. There were specials thru out the cruise. If you get a massage, ask for "Kerry" as she is a delight and her swedish massage was to die for. I had 4 on this 12 day cruise when I would usually only have 1 or 2 a cruise. My wife was very understanding.
Food: Judgement on food is always a personal issue so what we like you may not. However, I would give the main dinning rooms on the breeze good marks. The menu's where varied with things that were always available and the day's "Specials" The food was presented nicely and was tasty. I had a great steak on "Steak Night" and the Lobster tails where especially tasty. Of course carnival also has the Chocolate Melting Cake which is a standard all its own. We did anytime dining and never had to wait for a table.
On the Breeze, like most new ships, it has many food outlets other than the main dinning room and the buffet. So the variety is good and you should always be able to fine something to your liking. We especially liked the BBQ outlet (Sea days only), Guy's hamburgers and the Tandori Kitchen. My wife and I did do the Chef;s kitchen and had dinner in the galley. It was fun and unique so we would reccomend if the budget would allow ($75 per person).
Fellow Passengers: This was a 12 day cruise over Labor day. Although there were some families with children, there were not many. I would say the average age was younger than most cruises but it was a relative tame crowd. This cruise had American's in the majority but there were large British, European (I met my first Russian) Canadian and Australian contingents (Boy that has to be a long flight from Australia to Venice) I would say the extremes in rowdiness and old age were missing which I personally found to my liking. So I liked this crowd even more than Celebrity which I would say tends to be an older crowd. But I think this all depends more on when you cruise than which cruise line it is.
Ports: Venice, Dubrovnik,Sicily, Naples, Sardinia, Rome, Florence, Monaco and Barcelona .....What's not to like.
The Ship: Clean, modern with lots of great places to relax and enjoy the cruise. I did not see to many chair hogs but that could be due to new Carnival Policy. Ship did not seem overly crowed with 4,000 passengers on.
Crew: Personable and seemed to try and please.
Laundry: I think the Breeze had the best setup of all the ships. Laundry rooms were spread throughout the ship and you could use your sail and sign card for money. Beats bringing a roll of quarters.
Casino: Smoke free so you didn't tread going through it when you wanted to GO from front to back of ship. So new design I think is a winner for Carnival.
So what is the negative?
Entertainment: Again I think this is a personal taste issue so what I like you may not. The main production shows where high energy with excellent singers and dancers. But the main productions shows are designed for a younger demographic than us as we only recognized half the songs and the volume was way up there. Also Carnival 2.0 has swapped high tech electronics for live orchestras in the production shows. And they continually rotate the 4 shows over the two week cruise so there were nights when there was nothing new to go see. Also the entertainment throughout the ship was hit or miss and again geared to a younger age bracket. So again in summary, the quality was good but it was aimed to a younger crowd. You know some like Andre Bocelli while others like Lady Gaga.
Carnival Tours; We did two ship arranged tours and two with non ship vendors arranged with the help of "Critics" roll call. All went well. Carnivals tour guides were knowledgeable and we had a great time on those tours.
Embarkation: Did Carnival transfer to airport in Barcelona and it was quick, painless and well worth the money (About $25 per person). You tag you luggage, put it outside your stateroom the last night by 11PM and you pick it up at the Airport. No trying to find it at the cruise terminal or lugging it through customs. We will do Carnival transfers next time for sure.
So there you go, The Carnival Breeze" provided a great cruise and we will gladly use Carnival again. But the cautionary advice is to know what you are seeking in a cruise and understand the Calendar. I suspect if we had done the same cruise in July or early August or sail the Caribbean over Spring Break we might not be so positive about the whole experience.
Cabin 12009. Balcony small but sufficient with two chairs (One reclining) and a small table. Bed was comfortable. TV was nice size flat panel. Room was a good size with 3 closets and modest drawer spaces. Bathroom was probably a little above avg. in size for a cruise ship. Shower was fine with amble room.