JeeperGirl said it best in her review on the Carnival form - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. PRICE - The price was great for us. In fact, it was super cheap. BUT ... you get what you pay for. VIBE - When we first boarded, the vibe was good. There appeared to be a good mix of people and ages. By Day 2 we realized that we were on a Spring Break cruise in November. Saw people rudely demanding bar service at 8 am or earlier often. We kept hearing people say there were hardly any kids on board yet we saw numerous herds of kids running loose without adult supervision (ie, running loose on upper decks in extremely windy conditions, without parents present at the water slide, mini golf and basketball court, and more disturbingly in the hot tub and pools). This is not Carnival's fault. Thank goodness there were no serious incidents. We like kids. We like kids even more when parents actually act responsibly in parenting their children. We were on vacation. Parenting other people's children is not our job. BAD BEHAVIOUR - Please people, wear some clothing in the dining areas. No one wants to see the hairy beer bellies when eating breakfast, nor the shoelace up womens' butts when having lunch. See Spring Break comment above. Everyone likes to have a good time. When it becomes non-fun is when certain passengers are falling down drunk by mid-day and arguing with the staff. This starts to make it non-fun for the rest of the passengers. Saw this situation several times. A favorite episode was a drunk man arguing with bartenders, who cut him off at the bar, and then they told him his credit card had maxed out. That was Day 3 of our cruise. Again, not Carnival's fault. Another memorable moment was at dinner in the Bacchus dining lounge. It was an "elegant evening", meaning formal attire was required. We managed to dress up (ie, long dress and suit and tie). As we were entering Bacchus a very drunk woman with a drink in hand, slopping her drink everywhere, wearing shorts and deck sandals, was hollering and stomping away barking that "they" (assuming Carnival staff) refused to seat her in the dining room. Again, not Carnival's fault. The maître-d was simply doing his job. These types of incidents were happening quite often throughout the ship. STAFF - We found our cabin steward Kammie and our dining waitress Eva to be exceptional. The waiters in Bacchus and in the bars, as well as the casino staff in particular were great too. Overall, we found the staff friendly and helpful overall. We noted that the staff on the Lido deck were quite young and not overly motivated. We found ourselves cleaning tables and shifting used plates, glasses, etc. constantly. Ashtrays were overflowing, surfaces (tables and seats) were sticky, there seemed to be garbage on the floor chronically. Carnival could definitely improve in this area. FOOD - Dismal. There is no other word. Everything was cool or cold. We nibbled what we could through the day and hoped to fill up in the Bacchus dining room at night. Again, the food was cool and alternated between overcooked or undercooked on the same plate. By the looks of what we were served, food was simply slopped and dumped on plates in the kitchen. Waffles one could not poke a fork into. Spraying PAM on the top of buns before grilling deli sandwiches. On the final day of the cruise, the tepid pasta at the lunch buffet on the Lido deck was served in Bacchus dining room as a gourmet dinner option. We know because we ate it twice that day. Blecght!! :p SHOWS - The shows were great!! We thoroughly enjoyed those we went to see. We saw others' comments on this forum and must point out that if one expects to see a Vegas blockbuster entertainer, then those folks should be going to Las Vegas. DECOR - Wow. There was an area with tables and chairs in a hidden corner near the chapel that was like a quiet garden space. Lovely. The glass elevators in the atrium were cool. The colours were disjointed, and definitely mismatching. We found it all to be overwhelming. But that said, it did lend to a distinct party atmosphere. We found the library uninviting, once we did find it. Why the need to lock up the books? ACTIVITIES - The water slide was fun. We played mini golf and ping pong. The basketball court had lots of kids in it every day having a good time. Perhaps Carnival could assign a staff member to pick up after the kids (ie, pick up golf clubs and place them back on the racks, etc.). The giant chess set had broken pieces. MAINTENANCE - We saw burned out lights, broken and chipped table tops (tiles missing), wooden stair treads loose. Perhaps maintenance work could be done at night when the guests are sleeping (ie, hosing down decks (not only mopping), cleaning glass panels, cleaning surfaces (tables and chairs), etc.). TOWELS - We enjoyed using our 2 Carnival blue towels when out on the decks during the day. Perhaps towels could be placed near the pools like other cruise ships do. Using the same 2 Carnival blue towels for a week (unlaundered - do cruisers have to pay to launder pool towels?) seemed inappropriate and cheap. CRUISE DIRECTOR(S) - Troy and Mel did a great job. Keeping over 2,100 human beings of all ages entertained, happy and informed is a Herculean task. Add to this the hurricane in Puerto Vallarta that had the Captain scrambling to keep us safe and scheduling alternate ports of call, further complicating Troy and Mel's jobs. We thought that Troy and Mel and the officers all were exceptional in dealing with the hurricane and all the drunk partyers. Until it came time to disembark in Long Beach. People generally do not listen, pay attention nor necessarily follow instructions well. Carnival needed to get people off the ship quickly so that new passengers could be loaded. We get it. But literally announcing for people to disembark in their designated groups as instructed with their room cards or, as Troy so eloquently stated, "I WILL SERIOUSLY KILL YOU", was the final straw for us. OVERALL - You get what you pay for. We met some really great people on the cruise (you know who you are!) and thoroughly enjoyed spending our time with them. We were unable to see our ports of call due to a hurricane. That is no one's fault. Carnival did a great job organizing a last minute stop in La Paz which we really liked. La Paz was a pleasant surprise and we hope to fly back there in the future. We were unaware that the stop in Los Cabos was only for 3 hours in the morning. If we had known the stop was going to be that brief, we would have organized ourselves better. Again, not Carnival's fault. Maybe better announcing of the brief stop on Carnival's part and us paying better attention would have had us visiting Los Cabos. Regardless, it was fun seeing it from the ship. FINAL ANSWER - Carnival is a great deal for the money. But be aware that, in our opinion, this is what we would term as being the "Wal-Mart of Cruising". We wanted a relaxing vacation "off the grid" and we got it. When problems arose, we removed ourselves from the area or wandered off to do other things elsewhere on the ship. Would we cruise Carnival again? Yes and no. Carnival would definitely be our last choice. However, if we could get a screaming deal to cruise 3 days on a repositioning basis (ie, $99 for two), we may do it. But it would have to be a super crazy cheap deal. On the upside, we did lose weight.
Cabin was fine for what this cruise cost us. Our cabin steward was exceptional. We would not have booked a balcony and paid extra if we had known at the time of booking that smoking regulations were going to change on October 9 to disallow balcony smoking. We very much thank our booking agent for getting us a cabin literally one floor immediately below the Lido deck smoking area.
We thoroughly enjoyed our walk around La Paz. There are lots of tourist police around and we found it to be very safe (despite the police incident that apparently occurred while we were there). The people were lovely and very friendly. We would like to fly down here in the future for a week long getaway. Very quaint. We also really enjoyed the artisan market at the port where we docked.