On October 18th my husband (DH), my 8 year old son (DS) and I sailed on the 2 night cruise to No-Where. We chose this cruise for several reasons. One my DH and DS never cruised before, so they wanted to try it before we do a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean next summer for my birthday. Secondly, because previously I sailed on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas, I wanted to see if I would like Carnival being that the price is around $500 cheaper per person. Before I get to the bulk of my review on the Carnival, I will get the comparisons between the two cruise lines out of the way. Remember this is just my humble opinion: Food: Dining Room: Carnival by a landslide (more choices and much better taste) However, RCCL has better dessert. Buffet: RCCL, but not by much (I will admit RCCL Windjammer does have more variety and is set up more efficiently. Activities: Carnival-by a landslide Cabins: Tie, I heard Carnival has the largest cabins at sea, but I didn't really notice the size difference. Both are very modern looking and nicely appointed. Service: Tie, as far as service in getting your needs met. However, the staff on Carnival was much more personable.
Ship Decor: RCCL by a landslide. It's true RCCL does have the nicest ships afloat (I'm speaking as far as the Voyager and Freedom class ships goes.)
I know this is long review, but take a deep breath...Our cruise to No-Where. We sailed from NYC and that was great because we live in Queens, NY. Embarkation was fine. When we first arrived at the cruise port the parking lot is at pier 92 therefore we had to walk over to pier 90. For a 2 night cruise there weren't any porters to assist with luggage. But that was fine, as we didn't bring a ton of clothes for 2 nights. When we first entered the terminal there was a nice size line. However, at about 2:30 they began to let us board. And the lines moved very quickly. The whole process was less than an hour. Upon seeing the Miracle, initially I was disappointed and right away decided I like RCCL better. However, as I started to venture, I decided the Miracle was actually a very nice ship, very nice. But again, the edge goes to RCCL. We had our embarkation lunch and drink of the day at Horatio's which is the buffet on the lido deck. The buffet area is very "spread-out" almost to a fault. For example, the "Taste of Nations" section was in one area, while the deli was across the way, the grill for the burgers and dogs were out, going through the doors pass the pool and reggae band. Also, we did encounter lines there, but hey we're on vacation so no big deal. The dining room was pretty good. There was a lot of variety, the presentation was nice and the food had seasoning!!! The second night was formal night and DH had two lobster tails and two prime ribs. The warm chocolate melting was good, not great but good. DH and DS loved it. I did like the desserts better on RCCL. We ate breakfast and dinner for both days in the dining room, and used the buffet for lunch both days. At night Horatio's turns into a "Late Night Bistro", and it was great. At midnight they were grilling burgers and minute steaks. For the late night snack there were burgers, dogs, steak sandwiches, grilled chicken, crisp fries, chilling, cookies and brownies, with also 24-hour pizza and ice-cream available. Speaking of ice cream, I did not like the 24 hour ice cream machine on the lido deck. It had a weird taste, like a fat free or sugar free. I don't know but something was definitely off with the taste. Hopefully Carnival in the near future will change that so that the taste is on par with "Carvel's" or any other good ice cream. We tried some of the cake from the dessert cafe. I agree with a previous cruise critic, the cakes definitely looked better than they actually tasted. The cabins were very nice. The two beds were put together to make a king size bed and the couch was made up into a bed for our son. We all slept very comfortably. The bedding is wonderful, to the point I am thinking about ordering Carnival's bedding set. Also, in our cabin there were two bath robes for us to use. The cabins and bathrooms had lots of space for storage. I liked the free samples in the bathroom of: his and her razors, crest toothpaste, and other stuff. There are body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower too. On thing I did like better on RCCL were shower doors instead of those shower curtains on Carnival.
Camp Carnival-definitely a hit with my son. DH and I had a vacation within a vacation. There are literally activities scheduled all day long for the kids. They only close for lunch and for an hour near dinner time. On the formal night, there was a "kids" dinner at Horatio's with plenty of kid friendly dishes. My son had a ball. Each time we went to pick him up from CC, it was like pulling teeth to get him out of there. Just some of the activities: scavenger hunts, treasure hunts for candy, tee shirt coloring, play station 2 video games, nintendo wii games, board games, candy art, etc. That is just a fraction of the things they had planned. Activities: I definitely had fun. Every hour there is something going on. We played bingo a few times, but we didn't win. Oh well. We participated in the battle of the sexes, went to see the "Sea Feud", went to the nightly shows for a little while, went to see one of the comedians-he was good. As far as fellow passengers, the crowd on Carnival was definitely more fun and friendly and not up tight like I noticed on RCCL. Ship Decor and public rooms: very nice. Furthermore, I liked the Bacchus dining room, purple grapes and all. Everything being said, I can honestly say that I loved Carnival more than RCCL. For next year's cruise I am sold, and we will sail on Carnival for the 7 night cruise for my birthday.