My family of three love cruising and so did the other family of four. It's nice to go with another family and let the kids have fun together as well as, the grown ups having their own time. We've been on Royal Caribbean, Princess (the worst), Disney (the best) and Carnival (in between). We chose the latest cruise ship (Carnival Vista) which just came out in May 2016 - the new décor and the lay out of the ship was really nice. However, the flow of some of the main floors (to get to the main dining areas and the gangway) everything just seemed a bit divided and didn't flow well. Anyway, I still needed a few more days to figure things out. the activities for the kids were awesome; a sky ride, water slides, basketball, game rooms, arcades, etc. We even enjoyed ourselves doing some of the things. There was so much to do but always with lines like if we were at a Theme Park. My idea of relaxation was to sit on the balcony decks/Lido Deck (common area with Pool and Eateries) and watch a movie or the entertainment. However, people would have the same idea and occupy the lounge chairs for hours or the whole day with their personal items if they were not there and would be upset if it was moved after a few hours. Overall the ship was nice and service was good. However, I wanted to see happier faces on the staff. Most looked so gloomy as if they were working under slavery conditions. Other Ships that I'd been on - the staff always looked very pleasant and chirpy. We're on vacation, we don't want to be burdened with sad faces.
The Excursions - We embarked in Barcelona. I would highly recommend going there at least two days ahead and sightseeing. Barcelona was so very lovely and the Sagrada de Familia and unforgettable experience. Get a prepaid guided tour from Trip Advisor or online and make sure to read reviews first as one family got jipped and their tour guide never turned up. Have your printouts with you as they don't always take phone emails. We wished we stayed longer in Barcelona. Once on board the ship, it seemed organized but the lines were still long and on different decks. And, ask questions - the staff were young and didn't think to give more details than necessary. So, if you're new - good luck. Our first country was Marseilles, France and after that there were many and quite interesting stops - Rome/Florence/Naples in Italy (don't get jipped buying from the stores that the tour guides take you - it was more expensive than in the US and same quality. Unless, you must have it, like I did. Plus, they tell you about their discount being the 12-15% taxes that you can get back. It's a long process and it must be over Euros 150.00, you also must have your receipt and have the item IN HAND for customs to verify the purchase (customs is after you have checked in your luggage at the counter... so good luck if you have a big piece of item or thought that you would be luggage free), then once you get your receipt stamped you have to go to the Exchange to collect your funds - so, make sure that you have enough time to board your flight. Then, we only had a scheduled one day at Sea - so, by the time you sightsee everyday in every port starting 7:00 - 8:00 am daily (barely enough time to get up, get breakfast and wander off the ship - it was rush, rush every day). We needed more than one day at Sea and a break in between to enjoy the ship. For that reason, I decided to just relax on board in Naples (I missed it and heard it was lovely) but, we're on vacation and can't do everything. Onto Crete also known as Heraklion in Greece. We hired a taxi driver who spoke English, most of them did and they also are quite knowledgeable about the city, so he took us to several places that we wanted to see, explained and most importantly had Wi-Fi in the car (most restaurants, taxis and buses had free Wi-Fi which was a plus). On board the ship they offered Wi-Fi daily ($5-25) but it was spotty and paying with your international carrier was also iffy on sea but okay in the ports. Carnival offered a Carnival on board hub for $5 US for the entire cruise per device and this was awesome to contact members of your party and keep up to date with events on board the ship. I highly recommend getting it. Back to Crete, we were taken to a marketplace and at the BEST Gyro and fries ever! I wish I could remember the name of the little place. Clean, friendly staff and good food. We tried to replicate it for the rest of the trip to Rhodes and in Athens but no other restaurant came close to the gyro in Crete and for good value, only Euro 3.25. The Ship cancelled Turkey and for good reasons as there was a military coup attempt. We heard from Greek natives that it was very dangerous and to stay on board. We were disappointed but happy to be safe and have another day at Sea. The ship planned all kinds of activities and events and we enjoyed our day at sea. Overall, the guided tours were very expensive. We chose some tours and tried to be frugal about our selection but for a family of three my bill would have been about $2500 if we took one tour in all 4 countries visited so, we waited until we got on the boat and it seemed as if everyone had the same idea as well. We took some guided tours which were well worth it. I enjoyed the fact that I could hear from a knowledgeable guide the detailed history and explanations about the places visited. So, it all depends on what is your preference and your pocket. The excursions planned were all with reputable companies so one could not go wrong. However, after a couple tours, we decided to do the cheaper versions - the cruise ship at some ports offered a bus to take you to your destination and bring you back ( for a minimal amount per person). During the ride they would explain a couple details about the places along the way and the sites that would be visited. You would pay for entry and sightsee yourself. This seemed a more frugal way. It always seemed that ports were extremely far from the sights. Only in Rhodes and Athens, Greece was it walking distance to anything.
The Food - was not bad. Guy Fieri's burger joint was a big hit with everyone (big and small), Taco/Burrito joint that seemed to close at 2:30pm every day so I could never get a chance to try it and the 24 hour pizza shack was delicious for all night and day pizza. There was a sushi restaurant on board but with limited sushi and very tasty. We never got a chance to visit any of the specialty restaurants (Asian, Steak and Italian restaurants) as there was so much food and a good variety. I thought in some cases it was actually better than the dinner food. However, if one had to compare the dinner main dining food, I would say it was average and in it's class with other ships except the Disney which had truly gourmet food each and every night. The mode of dress was casual and even at elegant night - some people dressed up and some didn't. So, don't go buying any gowns or special outfits. With regards to your dining time, if you're a sightseer then book the late dining or anytime dining. We booked 6:15pm and we were always rushed to dinner and rushed out of dinner if we wanted to see shows. There were also late shows - so you won't miss anything. Comedy, magicians, Interactive Game shows, dances, etc and the Cruise Director was handsome and a blast. Any event he was at or involved with - the whole ship swarmed to be there as well.
Cabin staff were always polite and eager to assist and get you what you needed.
One Robe in cabin and enough storage space for suitcases and clothes.
Bed was very comfortable and shower large enough with enough storage space for toiletries. Always well stocked with Shampoo and Soap.
Daily cleaning and nightly turn downs.
this was cancelled.