Our party of four arrived in Barcelona around 12:30 PM the day of the cruise - November 6, 2012. We were three hours delayed in arrival due to an unresolved problem with an upgraded navigational system installation on our aircraft. We were all quite relieved when we finally departed from the gate at JFK. There were quite a number of us onboard taking the cruise. Our transfers with Carnival from the airport to the ship went well. We completed the boarding process in minutes.
What surprised me the most about our cruise on the sparkling new Carnival Breeze cruise ship was the smoothness of our transatlantic crossing. How lucky we were since last year's crossing of The Carnival Magic was quite rough. Our 15-day Transatlantic Voyage included Ports of Call at Barcelona, Spain, Palma De Mallorca, Spain, Malaga, Spain, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Antigua, St Maarten, NA and Miami, FL This newest addition to the Carnival fleet has a very different feel to it.
The ship itself is simply stunning. Gone are the glaring neon color schemes and dizzying competing patterns on older Carnival ships. Instead, I welcomed the calming Caribbean palette of colors: clear aqua, sky blue, mint green, shades of yellow and soft browns the color of sand. There was just a tease of delicate pink neon swirl on a section of the ceiling in the Lower Level Sapphire Restaurant (MDR). I did enjoy the outdoor palm tree decorations, the cheerful yellow umbrellas in the Lido Marketplace Buffet and the whitewashed & the rattan deck furniture. The three deck-high Ovation Theater looks lovely and inviting with comfortable long couches and convenient small beverage tables. Almost every seat has an unobstructed view of the stage. All the public areas- lounges, bars, Breeze Atrium, pubs etc are beautiful. The Serenity decks & others have comfortable cushioned lounges and rattan enclosures - even some hammocks.
Most of all, I enjoyed my large beautifully appointed Regular Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom #1288 with its two baths. If you haven't experienced one of these, then you cannot believer how smoothly your life will be onboard. Gone are the garish art works adorning stateroom walls. Instead, there were soft modernistic hangings. The king bed is very comfortable and the storage and closet spaces are plentiful. Two end tables, a good-sized couch with four small pillows and a coffee table complete the furnishings. Stateroom passageways have tall wallpaper art depicting Caribbean landscapes. I photographed several because of their beauty. Stateroom doors have slats of blonde wood reminiscent of the Caribbean. It was a joy to walk along these halls. Since The Breeze is now home ported in Miami with Caribbean itineraries, the ambiance is just perfect. Ahmad, our Cabin Steward, kept our cabin clean and fully stocked with towels and amenities as well as towel animals. As VIPs on Carnival, we enjoyed complementary laundry service. It was a big plus on this long cruise.
Although I did experience occasional slow service in the dining rooms at breakfast or lunch, everyone on the wait staff did their best to serve us as well as possible. We dined only in the MDR for our dinners each night. We all enjoyed the selection of meal choices and the quality of the food. Our party of four chose the Anytime Dining Option and it worked extremely well for us as we usually sat at our requested window table in Luis' section. We were so impressed with the congeniality and teamwork of our wait staff on the second night onboard that we requested to be in their section for the remainder of our voyage. I would like to send a big thank you to Luis, Wayan and Milton for their attentive service. They regularly anticipated our needs and desires. We did get to taste the food in the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse and rave about the Tiramisu and the Mushroom Cappuccino Soup. Marketa, a MDR Hostess, did a superb job of handling my husband's Special Meal Requests and went out of her way to ensure that they were prepared correctly. She often made suggestions not listed on the menu. He was very impressed by her competency and attention to detail. Look for her on the Carnival Dream in December and the ship will be lucky to have her professionalism and rapport with the passengers.
My husband & I took Carnival shore excursions in the European ports of call. All were worth the money and began promptly as scheduled. The guides were knowledgeable and articulate as well as friendly and informative. Since we have been to the two Caribbean Islands many times, we did our own thing in these ports. The ship docked in each port for approximately 7-10 hours so we had plenty of time for sightseeing. Still, some passengers on independent tours did not make it back to the ship on time and delayed our departure in each of the European ports.
Besides the Caribbean feel of the ship and its newness, I also enjoyed the warm temperature of the Beach and Tides pools, which filled with passengers from early morning until dark. The Lanai, Tides and Serenity Whirlpools were also quite popular. It was never difficult to find lounge chairs around or near the pools and whirlpools. Depending on the weather, the ship provides blankets and/or towels at a poolside station. Of course, our staterooms also had the same long plush towels for our personal use on and off the ship.
My husband and all the other "kids" onboard loved going down the two water slides. I enjoyed watching the big bucket of water cascade over the Water Works area every few minutes.
If you enjoy Trivia, you will love all the many daily games on the Breeze. The participation was amazing. There were also the usual card games, arts and crafts, casino tournaments, pool games, dance classes, parties, Bingo, Art Auction, ice sculpture demonstration and Arcade games. The Cloud 9 Spa offers many deals and there are the daily sales outside the Fun Shops and elsewhere around the ship. Since I had $650 of onboard credits, I made several purchases. The Fitness Center is also quite popular but I simply enjoyed walking 4 miles around Deck 5 each morning scanning the ocean for dolphins, whales and ships plying the waters. Something new on this ship is a bar in the Library opened 11 AM-Midnight. What a neat idea! Another intriguing new amenity on this Carnival ship is the Sea Ropes Sky Course - challenging fun for kids as well as adults. If you are bored on this ship, it is your own fault.
Be sure to catch the high energy, outstanding Playlist Productions - Divas, Motor City and The Brits! The use of LED screens to produce realistic detailed scenery and the illusion of a cast of hundreds on stage are simply amazing. Wow - was I impressed! In addition, the comedy acts in the Punchline Theater are funny without being vulgar. Be sure to catch at least one performance. After dinner, it is always fun to listen to Ron in the Piano Bar 88. He always takes requests and has a loyal following. After a show, enjoy dancing in the Atrium. In fact, all around the ship there are wonderful opportunities to hear great live music.
There was a variety of fun Cruise Critic events, also to attend including: Informal and Official Formal Meet & Greets, Group Breakfast, Nightly Cocktail Times, Card Draw Game, Cabin Crawl (which I was one of 13 hosts), Book Exchange, Mini Golf Tourney, Ship Pub Crawl, The Movie Night PJ Party, Games & Cards Activity and Farewell Group Luncheon. It was nice seeing so many members wearing their personalized tee, wristband and light up ship pin.
I did experience a few disappointments with the ship. I disliked that I had to pay extra money to see films shown in the inside Thrill Theater. The outdoor Seaside Theater movies, by the way, are included in the cruise price. The complementary sushi on other Carnival ships is now an extra charge Bonsai Sushi Restaurant on the Breeze. I always enjoy the complementary after dinner Cappuccino on other Carnival ships but on the Breeze, it is an extra charge. This Carnival ship also has just too many announcements over the speaker system. It is indeed hard to find a place for quiet reading anywhere on the ship including the library, which has piped in music. There is only one place on the entire ship to pick up or exchange pool towels. This is an inconvenience when on the Serenity decks. It was not until a couple of passengers got sick onboard that the Carnival Staff started enforcing use of the hand sanitizers at the buffet. Perhaps most annoying of all was the noise of the ship cutting through the ocean swells crossing the Atlantic. I suggest that you book a stateroom above deck 3 for a quieter night's sleep. Our stateroom was on deck 1.
My husband and I always enjoy ourselves on Carnival ships. We appreciate the good value we get and are quite happy with the meals and level of service that we receive. Although most Carnival cruises have lots of young people and kids onboard, this was not true on this long cruise. Of the 3,600+ passengers, only 67 were kids. The majority of passengers hailed from the US - Florida in particular. Many of the Europeans onboard came from Germany. Still others came from Canada, South America, the UK and Australia. I chose this cruise because it was brand new ship. I liked that some of the ports were in Europe and others were in the Caribbean broken up with sea days in the middle. By the way, Carnival is doing away with the Future Cruise Certificates. We have used several on previous cruises and found them to be financially worthwhile. I hope to take a future Caribbean cruise on The Breeze.
Great room - large, airy, plenty of storage, big flat screen TV, large window with two very convenient baths. My only complaint was the sound of the ship moving through the ocean when we were doing 22 knots during the Transatlantic crossing. We had a very sick passenger so the captain had to speed up to get him to Antigua as quickly as possible. Even without this higher speed, though, the noise at night in the cabin was disturbing. I suggest booking on a higher level than deck one.