SUMMARY: This was a good cruise -- we made all our ports, weather was tolerable, excursions were memorable, food was good, and cabin was fine.
This was my 10th cruise, the 7th on Carnival. I sailed with my sister, both of us in our 60's. This was her 16th cruise, I believe. We chose this cruise because of the itinerary, the length of the cruise and the good value.
We drove in from North Carolina the night before and stayed at the Best Western in Cocoa Beach, which allowed us to leave our car there free.
We had purchased the "faster to the fun" option, and were able to walk right onto the ship when we arrived. Our ocean-view cabin was ready as promised so we were able to unpack before enjoying lunch on the Lido deck.
CABIN: We chose Riviera 1316, a lower deck ocean-view cabin. It was ready on time and was large enough for two women. Our Room Steward, Randy, kept it in tip-top shape with amusing towel creatures each night and attention to our needs. The only issue with this cabin is that it is a little noisy. I'm not sure what the noise was, but I'm guessing it might've been stabilizer noise as the seas were a little rough most evenings. After the second night, I got used to it and was able to rest well.
DINING: I could see that Carnival is cutting corners and in today's economy, I can appreciate that. It didn't bother me that there were no tablecloths in the dining room (except for the formal nights) or that the menu options were fewer. There was always something available on the menu that appealed to me. Everything was well-cooked and tasty. Even the evening I ordered rare prime rib, it came perfectly to order. The low calorie desserts were surprisingly good. Wait staff was attentive.
We ate at the Fish & Chips area and enjoyed fish and also the ceviche options. Very tasty. We at at Guy's Burgers 3 times, the last two eliminating the bun. It was good without it and my waistline thanked me.
My only (small) complaint is that on both on the Lido deck and in the dining room, "cheesecake" was a misnomer. It was a cheesecake-ish jello-type dish, far from real cheesecake. Others I spoke with mentioned this, too. Just call it something else and no one will be disappointed. But, at least to Americans, cheesecake means something with a large proportion of cream cheese and a minimum of gelatin. But there were only desserts that were certainly palatable.
EMBARKATION was perfect. We like to roll our luggage onboard and we had a moment of panic when we were told that our bags might be too large for the port's x-ray equipment. They were standard approx. 9 x 14 x 22 carry-on bags which would've been permitted on an airplane. But it turned out they were fine. We brought a case of diet sodas onboard and there was no problem with that either. It was probably one of the quickest embarkations ever.
ENRICHMENT ACTIVITIES I'm not really sure about the definition of this, but we attended Arts & Crafts "classes" three times. They were free. The instructor was late to the meeting place each time and acted as though s/he were in a blazing hurry. We were able to complete the first craft, a paper flower, during the class and enjoyed them on our door the rest of the week. The second craft was flip-flops decorated with balloons and glow-in-the-dark glasses, but the staff member didn't explain or help -- just handed them out and left. The third craft was a paracord bracelet. I believe my sister was the only one who completed hers in the time allotted. I brought mine back to the cabin to work on, and it's now at home, still unmade. This is a great idea, but a little more time with staff member would be good, or even bring along a couple of staff members so that everyone could be successful with this.
ENTERTAINMENT seemed one of the places where costs were cut. There were only TWO production song/dance shows for the entire 8-nights. There were other shows in the large Invahoe Theatre, but they were comedians, juggler, classes, and other "acts" many of which might have been better in a smaller venue. The lobby was dominated by a single singer until the very last evening. This was disappointing as I'm accustomed to various musical groups rotating through the various venues and there were several I never got to hear.
9-11 MEMORIAL -- We did not realize when we booked the cruise that we would be at sea on 9/11. I admit I was a little jumpy that day. However, there was a lovely, patriotic "moment of silence" in the lobby on 9/11, that did much to allay my fears. I was pleasantly surprised as I know there are people from many countries, not just the US, but it was a very touching service and I appreciated it very much.
CASINO. I didn't go to the casino, but just going BY it was miserable. As this was my 7th Carnival cruise, I thought I knew what to expect, but the stench and the smoke was just outrageous. I especially noticed this on the formal nights, when many photos were made along this hallway. Something needs to be done about the exhaust system.
FITNESS & RECREATION: We did not use the gym or spa on this cruise.
ONBOARD EXPERIENCE: this was a very nice cruise. Now I have to admit that we had to put our "cruise attitude" on fresh every morning along with our devotional. But this had everything to do with rude fellow-passengers and nothing to do with staff or the ship itself. It was terribly hot on this cruise, which I did not expect in September, and I think that may have contributed to some of the passengers' crankiness, but this was nothing Carnival could do anything about, and the heat didn't seem to affect the perfect manners of their staff.
PUBLIC ROOMS were maintained impeccably. At any hour of the day or night, there was someone cleaning something. I never saw trash or grime or so much as a candy wrapper while on board.
SERVICE was also perfect. I have no complaints whatsoever. Our room steward Randy (and other staff -- Floyd, Yogo, Samuel) were perfect. We chose the anytime-dining, so we had different waiters each night but Harlene and Feland come to mind as exceptional. We ate breakfast on deck each morning and several times enjoyed omelettes made by staff who were really amazingly efficient.
EXCURSIONS -- we only booked one excursion through Carnival, the segway tour at Grand Turk, and it was fine with good guides (KJ and Nate) and an interesting tour. We booked through local businesses for a bus tour and parasailing which were also fine.
VALUE FOR THE MONEY -- we had received a 20% off coupon from a previous cruise and that, added to the already good pricing, made this a very good value.
Good sized window, 3 closets, couch, adequate bath. A little noisy at night due to? Maybe stabilizer noise.
We loved this! I'm in my 60's and had never enjoyed parasailing, but found it fun, easy, and exciting. Staff was very solicitous without making me feel ancient.
It was extremely hot, but the guide did a good job of keeping us cool and calm. Enjoyed all the sites. I believe next time I'd prefer to focus on one area rather than try to see so much.View All 293 Island tour Reviews
Segway Tour: Big fun and great way to see the sights up close and personal
Lots of places to stay at reasonable rates if you come in early. The port itself is efficient and easy to negotiate. Security was alert, but still reasonable.