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The itinerary was the reason for booking this particular cruise. Aruba is on my bucket list, and I was in dire need of a vacation. Coming from Montana, we took the red eye (affordability factor) and flew in a day early. We were fortunate enough to spend time with some family that live in Florida, and enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of Miami Beach. We chose the Sleep Inn, on Fairway (borders a golf course, so it was also very beautiful) for our lodging – A very good choice. It is close to the airport, but not noisy. It was clean, it was comfortable, and we felt safe. They did not have a fridge in the double rooms we had on the second floor. There are no restaurants within walking distance, either. There is a Convenience store about ¼ mile to the east, and a Burger King and Pizza Hut about ¼ mile to the west. The morning continental breakfast was adequate, nothing special. My son said the waffles were pretty good. Transportation to the port could be arranged very easy. The staff was very friendly, and I loved the fact that customer service has not died altogether. We had already pre-booked transportation, we had a group of 14 we were trying to keep together. We booked with QLS (Quality Limo Service) out of Miami – They arrived within their allotted time (barely) with a 14 passenger van towing a trailer for luggage. We were loaded up quickly and then transported to the terminal for our check in time. There is a tunnel from mainland Miami that connects with the port island – very interesting, very efficient. We were all scheduled for 10:00 am or 10:30 am. Some of us had FTTF, some did not. We DID book the FTTF. We gave the porters our luggage AS A GROUP – nothing had to be broken down by check in time, or FTTF yes/FTTF no. However, the actual line to get into the building was separated and not well marked. First issue. No one wants to wait in a line only to find out it’s not the correct line. They check your boarding pass and passport and health questionnaire at the first area. He did NOT have a sense of humor. My passport has a lousy picture (I’m surprised they used it at the Department of State) so they took another photo (which looked worse, IMO). Then we were directed to the security – we did NOT have to remove our shoes and belts. A similar machine (like the airport) and a “walk through” detector - After security, we went up the escalator to the waiting room. The FTTF had a separate waiting area than the others, as well. The waiting area was FRIGID! Second Issue. I’m from Montana, I know FRIGID. We waited and waited and waited…We hit the doors at 10:08 and sat in the waiting area for over an hour and a half. Third Issue. Some of those in our party paid their deposit for S&S with cash, and they took care of that in the same level as the waiting room. I was thankful for semi comfortable seats, but that was absolutely the longest I have every waited to board. Ever. After the fact, we heard – not sure if it is true or not – the ship had docked later than planned, creating the debarkation to be delayed. When we were finally cleared to board, the VIP, Platinum, and Wedding Parties went first, as always. Then the FTTF was called. Once again, they checked our boarding pass and passport – then we were told we could put our passport away. We were frozen stiff, famished, and crabby from waiting – we did not do an embarkation photo. Once across the plank, they checked us on to the ship with an iPad. No more podium with that musical “ding” – (I kind of missed it…) We walked up to the ship and Viola – Finally on board. And so the elevator jam begins. Having been on several Carnival vessels, we knew to head to an elevator further back and quickly made it to Lido. We grabbed 4 tables out on the deck (still trying to thaw out, did NOT need to be inside the air conditioned ship) and immediately grabbed a DOD! They used my BOARDING PASS – simple. No hassle at all. Starting with the “ceremonial” Reuben, and them a variety of other food – we all sat down for lunch. On board, at a table, and eating just before Noon. We meandered down to deck 6 where our Aft Wrap Balcony awaited us. (6450) I have never had the Wrap, so it was time to try and I must tell you, it was worth every penny. I spent a LOT of time on my balcony. A LOT!! 6450 is behind another door – so the cabin next to us AND us had a second door – it was nice for privacy and noise level. Our sign and sail cards were in an envelope in our mail slot exactly where they were supposed to be. As we walked in to the cabin, I headed straight for the deck. It was so big, we had 3 regular chairs, 3 lounger chairs and 2 little tables. The room is an odd shape, so the head of the bed was facing the aft corner – the bathroom was near the left side of the bed. The couch was also along the left side of the bed. The right side of the bed was the windows to the deck. Standard closets, drawers, safe and cooler. The TV – OMG it was DINKY! Didn’t use it often, but when we checked the menu, the map or checked the charges on our SS cards, you had to stand up directly in front of it. The little coffee table moved around; it was not anchored to the floor, thankfully. And there was a sitting chair in the corner that ended up being the catch-all for our clothes. Because we were on 6 and had only cabins above us, the noise was minimal. However, the deck door to the cabin next door slammed ALL THE TIME. IN – OUT – IN – OUT…holy cow! Some of our travel companions had an Aft Wrap on Deck 8 and heard all the chairs being moved around on Lido all the time. Their balcony had more side balcony, ours had more aft. Theirs was set up a little different than ours as well. But 6450 was amazing. We did get soot on the deck on sea days (not a lot) and we got a LOT of trash (food) from jerks throwing stuff over the side of the ship. Our room steward, Agus, was amazing. We did opt for “one time a day” cleaning – it wasn’t really necessary for two in my opinion. We had wonderful towel animals every day and Agus was always spot on clean. Every time he saw us in the corridors, he would ask how we were or what we were doing. Thank you Agus! You gave us exceptional customer service! Muster was no fun – Somehow, I always get the tall people in front of me. They scanned your S&S card with the Ipad and were actually verifying everyone was in attendance. After it was over, they made us stand there while they read off names of those that were not scanned. Big bad trouble for those people! Their names were broadcast all over! The ironic comment made – the lifeboats are designed to be unsinkable, even if they take on water. Hmmmm isn’t that what they said about Titanic? Sail off was great – we pushed out into the channel, and went the wrong way! I was confused…but we got to the interior of the channel and turned around and then came back down the channel. Guess they had to turn around somewhere. We passed by 3 full ships and an empty NCL ship as we headed out to the white capping sea approx. 5:00 pm. My kids and I made it to the front of the ship, and stood there until we hit the sea – and wow, we were rocking. In fact, the seas were some of the roughest I recall being on. Whitecaps were the norm…and Rocking and Rolling was the game. Our suitcases were there early, but we were too busy checking things out to unpack just yet. We headed to LIDO where they were in full party sail off mode – Lots of dancing, lots of drinks! My daughter is now 21 so I was able to buy her a sissy-la-la fu-fu drink with an umbrella. We had fun! We unpacked and met on deck 4 for upper level 8:15 dining. And yes, we stood in line for what seemed like eternity. We had 2 big tables (one round for 10, one rectangle for 8) in the back port side. Our scheduled waiter was sick, so for the first two days, we had a substitute – Marcel sp? I did not take photos of the menus. We did take several foodie shots – my son is in a culinary class, so that was part of his homework. We typically ordered one or two appetizers, and passed them around – that way everyone got to taste a large variety. Sometimes, we’d order more than one entrée and do the same. I tried to try something new every dinner. (Not a fan of frog legs, but that may just be the ick factor!) Two nights, I received a cold main course. Not by choice. On the formal night, we were never given a dessert menu nor an option to order dessert – we all just got crème brulee. One night, they ran out of a main dish, which I was very much looking forward to. One night, they opened the wrong bottle of wine. There just seemed to be miscues during our dining all the time. We would be one of the first to be seated, and the very last to leave. Sure made it difficult to get to the shows. Christian, our regular head waiter, was back in action on day 3 and it took him a couple days to warm up – but once he did, he was very meticulous, close attention to detail. He couldn’t control the food quality, but he did his best to make sure the last 4 nights were the best they could be. These guys walk around with enormous trays with food stacked sometimes 4 tall. One must be very strong and have a very limber neck. We watched our food be brought out and sit on the server station for up to 15 minutes. I wonder if the early dining had the same issue. The waiters sang and danced 3 times – I think both formal nights and the last night. Some of my favorites – Chilled strawberry, bing cherry and peach soups, pumpkin soup, French onion soup, escargot, calamari, chateaubriand, lobster (of course, and it was very good), grilled tofu (don’t judge), filet, cinnamon pumpkin squash yam and cheddar cheese pie, spanakopita, grilled mahi. They had a new banana bread pudding desert dish that was quite good – never got tired of chocolate melting cake, although some nights it was very very saucy/pudding like – not cake like. If there were eggs in it, I would not be comfortable eating it that runny. Grand Marnier Souffle was awesome as was bitter/blanc and the crème Brule. I did enjoy the cheese plate a few nights as well. Never fear – they STILL are serving the bread/rolls – they are putting them in baskets on the tables. It worked ok, although I missed the guys walking around with bread baskets. We ate brunch in the dining room every day except one. One day on Lido was PLENTY. The benedict was good most of the time, the blueberry pancakes – yum! The cheerios French toast was not that good, but the frosted flakes French toast was much better. VERY SWEET – EEK! Was not a fan of link dining room sausage, but the bacon was ok. The round hash browns were pretty good, great flavor. One can always get steak and eggs. I tried the pork chop one day – wasn’t bad. Wouldn’t order it again though. Now – for Lido…Breakfast had the same ol same ol. Little boxes of cereal, some fresh fruit, some yogurts, toast, bagels. The hot items didn’t appear to vary, but I was not up there for breakfast very often – The omletts made to order were good if the line was short. The oatmeal was runny, but with a little brown sugar and butter, it was ok. The grits were ok. And yes, someone “assists” you with the bacon. The coffee is much much better in the dining room; lido was yuk! They had green and black tea. Hot chocolate was a bit “thick” but it can be watered down. For lunch, their “menu of the day” always varied – there was always something being carved – beef, pork, veal, lamb, turkey – they had a soup, and gluten free bread choices. The salad bar was sad – never had blue cheese dressing, sometimes didn’t have thousand. One time, I saw creamy Italian and regular Italian – not even any ranch. ???? The fresh veggie choices were limited – often out of croutons. Their specialty salads were hit and miss – sometimes they were awesome, others, not so much. THE MANNERS OF THE PASSENGERS – A++ I was impressed with so many well behaved and polite people in the buffet area!! There is a BBQ/Rotisserie upstairs (I loved that food!), Deck 10 above the dessert bar. Brisket, Pork, Chicken, Beans, Mac and Cheese, yum…. They were served on tin plates as well! PLUS – when the Lido drink stations are so busy (or out of coffee….Yes, they ran out of coffee! Not COOL) there is a drink station on deck 10 that was very UNBUSY! AND there are lots of tables, inside, that were very lonely! The Deli (try the grilled cheese!!) and the Indian Restaurant are on AFT outside the Buffet – The BBQ (burgers and hot dogs) and Pizzeria are on midship outside the Buffet by the big movie screen. There is a “wok” station that you can do a stir fry – be careful about the sauce, the Szechuan is too HOT! And I like HOT! There is also a burrito station that you can have your own burrito created. For some of the entertainment – I was so excited to see FUNKology – Id read reviews, and was looking forward to it – I’m in a band, and love being able to enjoy and appreciate others. But….they are overrated. They sounded good, but they were boring, no energy, no interaction. There was a solo one-man-band in the Casino – now HE was fun, entertaining, and had more personality than required – but he was not good. Yikes. The piano bar entertainer I was also looking forward to – he was very talented, had a great voice. BUT….asked for requests, and was actually told he was saving that song or this song for the following night. In the industry, we call it “paid practice” when you don’t have a large captive audience. Then he told us he did NOT have a set list and he spent more time asking for requests than he did playing. At least the martini was good. There was a latin band, however, that was always playing when we went to and from dinner in the dining room. They played AWESOME music, I found myself doing the salsa every time they played something! The Carnival team were unable to do their first show upon leaving Miami – they said it was due to technical issues, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of the rocky seas! The did do their opening show on the last night and I caught only part of it, and it was good. They have a phenom male singer – oh boy that kid could sing the phone book and it would sound amazing. I wish I knew his name. And the dancing talent – wow. I did see a couple other shows (bits and pieces only – we would get out of dinner so late we couldn’t get the whole show). The comedy club was hit or miss – my daughter told me one of the guys tried to be funny, but wasn’t. Another one had everyone rolling in the aisles. There was also a magic show – It was good, short but good. Ship activities – we attended a cooking demonstration first sea day. Get there early. They would really benefit by installing some large mirrors or a camera/TV so we could see the actual cooking. They prepared 4 dishes, then passed around samples and recipes. That was very enjoyable. We attended several dance lessons – Thriller, line dancing, salsa dancing. It was as much fun to watch as it was to participate. They have trivia, and bingo and all sorts of spa events ALL THE TIME. We did manage to find down time to play some cards, do some Sudoku puzzles on my balcony, and the occasional power nap. The retractable roof by the movie screen was closed a lot. They still do the St. Judes fundraiser and the hairy chest contest. I saw synchronized swimming contest for the first time – that was funny! Lots of beanbag/cornhole. I did not spend much time in the casino, so I don’t have anything to report there. The candy shop is small, but the single roses are cheap! 5$ Make an impression, take a rose to someone at dinner! I spent more money on photos this time than ever – they were very good. Either that, or I look better than ever! I guess that could be the case as well. The gift shop does have extra things that may have been forgotten (at a premium). They were always having a booze sale, a watch sale, a jewelry sale, a t-shirt sale. Some amazing deals, if that’s your thing. They had the “taste” bar set up I think on sea days, but did not try anything. I did see people there. I had one fu-fu coffee. It was ok. I’d rather have a fu-fu “drink” though. They had an internet area – the 5$ a day per device for facebook was surprisingly LOW. Hope it stays that way! Guest Services – not impressed. They need to take customer service 101 courses – even though they’ve heard the issue a thousand times, they still need to take ownership of a resolution and at least pretend they care. We requested, and were charged 50$ for a wheelchair that first day, for dinner. I have a 84 year old Mother in Law that was fighting motion sick ness and had recent back surgery. We just asked for a chair to help get her to dinner. Never showed up. It took an act of congress to get that 50$ reimbursed – and no one appeared to care. And that was only the first of four issues we had. Guest Services was not good. The water slide – “bounced you around more than 4-wheeling in an old jeep” – it was “one and done” for my teenage son. Mini golf – was too windy to really participate in. Debarkation was ok – Again the FTTF was of importance. We left our luggage outside our cabin and got off when we were called (#2) – When you get to the luggage pickup, LOOK AT THE MARQUIS – they will tell you what number will be on what area. We stood in the wrong area watching for no reason…I believe there are 3 units and our luggage was in the middle one. Once you get through customs, and head outside, catching a shuttle to the airport, or catching a cab somewhere was very easy. Décor of the ship – My daughter called it pepto-bismo vomit. Everywhere. Granted, the design (artwork, décor) is unique. But really? If WE designed a ship based on our experiences – deck layout, décor, menu, room design – makes you wonder what we, as customers, could collectively come up with. Ports – on a scale from 1 – 5 Grand Turk, Bahamas – 4 With a 7am to 2pm stop, it was difficult to plan what to do. So we didn’t. We decided we’d fly by the seat of our pants. The “older” crowd, some with mobility issues, grabbed a local tour mid morning. Me, I was off the ship as SOON as it docked. There is a wonderful beach area with FREE chairs right on the port. But I knew it would fill up fast. So I was first off, First with a sissy la-la fu-fu in a coconut shell drink, First in the stunning water. We spent the day just lounging around. It was very windy, but this beach area was quite protected between the ship and the lay of the land. We even talked my 15yr old son into getting braids in his long rock-star hair! Great stop. Shopping area is expensive, but I picked up some vanilla! La Romana, Dominican Republic – 5 We booked with Seavis Tours – We did the Rio Chavon Jungle tour. The transport took us to the drop off point where we got on a covered barge with tables and chairs. We headed up this slow and lazy river with lots of narration, native fruits, and drinks. They taught us to dance along the way, and the scenery was truly spectacular. The river was high, as it has rained recently. But the overcast helped keep the temperature down. We arrived at their camp and they made us lunch of pork, chicken, root veggies, and some other native treasures. Then, it rained again, lasted about 45 minutes. Some of us elected to go kayaking (2 per kayak), and headed down the river – we raced each other, splashed each other, even ran each other into the river bank. I have not laughed like that for a very long time. While we were out playing, the others just hung out on the barge on the river bank and took pictures. When we returned, we played on the tree swing for another 20 minutes. It was very difficult to leave our newly found adventure in the beautiful jungle. HIGHILY RECOMMENDED Curacao – 4 With an odd stop time of 1pm to 10 pm, we did not plan anything and chose to fly by the seat of our pants, again. That was a mistake. By the time we got off the ship, walked all the way into the port, and tried to find a cab that would accommodate 10 people, we had wasted 90 minutes of daylight. Once we got to Mambo beach, we were very limited on daylight. It cost 3$ to get in and chairs were extra. We opted for a spot in the sand, and headed to the man-made lagoon. It was mostly cloudy, which was a bummer, because we saw SO MANY FISH, I bet they would have been magnificent-er in the sunlight! We saw butterfly fish, angel fish, bar jacks, grunts, snappers, damselfish, seargant majors, grunts, parrotfish, wrasse and a very large trumpetfish. There were little crabs on the seawall that were fun to watch. The water was very calm (as opposed to the rough water we’d encountered up to this point) Unfortunately, it got dark much too quick, and we headed back to the ship. The waterfront there was all lit up like a Christmas tree and it was magnificent! It was still a bummer – we only got about 4 hours of daylight in port. We had kids that were not 21, so we opted not to go back into port after dinner. Aruba – 5+++ Aruba was the selling point of this Cruise, for me. Bucket list. The shopping at the port was amazing – the prices were outstanding. I was shocked. We grabbed a couple cabs and headed to Palm Beach. We were educated by the cab driver about the strict regulation in Aruba – Cab drivers were heavily regulated, and there would be no beach vendors pushing their wares on the beach. That was a nice surprise. The area between the port and the beach was surprisingly clean – I did not see litter, I did not see panhandlers. Just lots of color and palm trees and water. The water there is beautiful – Many hues of blue and green. We grabbed a spot on the beach, paid for a few chairs and then I was in the water for probably a good solid 3 hours while the kids rented jet skis. The water was rough, there was an undercurrent, but that created waves (which were very entertaining). Some of them big enough to body surf on. Absolutely phenom day! Great sun, not too hot, and no pressure for anything. There are no bathrooms at Palm, and very few places for refreshments. NO ALCOHOL. We should have brought water in hindsight. But for the most part, the day could not have been any better, for me. In closing, The ship was as clean as they could get it, but the walls were water stained and dingy in certain areas, the exterior railings and bolts are rusting more that the painting can keep up with, the carpets are as clean as possible but are worn and super faded. The railings need sanded and painted/sealed. The decking is stained and faded, very rough (texture) in some places. The ship just needs a good drydock and taken care of. I know she was in drydock after the engine fire/being stranded in 2010, but she did not appear to be in the same condition the other ships we have been on. And I know the Legend is 6 years older. Between that, and the lack of service (with the exception of our steward and some dining room experiences), Carnival just did not meet our expectations for this vacation. I’m not an expert – I’m not platinum. But Carnival does do a lot of things right in their industry. Would I do FTTF again – Absolutely. Especially if there is a tendering port. Would I do an aft wrap again – Absolutely. For me, I spend enough time out on our deck to warrant the cost. What would I do different? I would research the ports better – flying by the seat of your pants does not always work out. Especially with an odd 1pm-10pm port. Maybe I’d consider earlier dining? I’ve never liked earlier, and I’ve really disliked your time dining. I like the service relationships typically formed by having the same team for the duration of the vacation. I will typically go to the same bartender as often as possible as well. When we book our next cruise for 2018, will be book Carnival? Doubtful. Too many companies vying for business that will better for what we are looking for. Thank you Carnival – But it just wasn’t worth a repeat trip. We’ve had fun, up until now. We will go where the grass is being watered.

Did not meet our expectations - What happened?

Carnival Splendor Cruise Review by marci4tony

11 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2016
  • Destination: Southern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Premium Vista Balcony
The itinerary was the reason for booking this particular cruise. Aruba is on my bucket list, and I was in dire need of a vacation.

Coming from Montana, we took the red eye (affordability factor) and flew in a day early. We were fortunate enough to spend time with some family that live in Florida, and enjoyed the sights, sounds and tastes of Miami Beach.

We chose the Sleep Inn, on Fairway (borders a golf course, so it was also very beautiful) for our lodging – A very good choice. It is close to the airport, but not noisy. It was clean, it was comfortable, and we felt safe. They did not have a fridge in the double rooms we had on the second floor. There are no restaurants within walking distance, either. There is a Convenience store about ¼ mile to the east, and a Burger King and Pizza Hut about ¼ mile to the west. The morning continental breakfast was adequate, nothing special. My son said the waffles were pretty good. Transportation to the port could be arranged very easy. The staff was very friendly, and I loved the fact that customer service has not died altogether.

We had already pre-booked transportation, we had a group of 14 we were trying to keep together. We booked with QLS (Quality Limo Service) out of Miami – They arrived within their allotted time (barely) with a 14 passenger van towing a trailer for luggage. We were loaded up quickly and then transported to the terminal for our check in time. There is a tunnel from mainland Miami that connects with the port island – very interesting, very efficient. We were all scheduled for 10:00 am or 10:30 am. Some of us had FTTF, some did not.

We DID book the FTTF. We gave the porters our luggage AS A GROUP – nothing had to be broken down by check in time, or FTTF yes/FTTF no. However, the actual line to get into the building was separated and not well marked. First issue. No one wants to wait in a line only to find out it’s not the correct line. They check your boarding pass and passport and health questionnaire at the first area. He did NOT have a sense of humor. My passport has a lousy picture (I’m surprised they used it at the Department of State) so they took another photo (which looked worse, IMO). Then we were directed to the security – we did NOT have to remove our shoes and belts. A similar machine (like the airport) and a “walk through” detector - After security, we went up the escalator to the waiting room. The FTTF had a separate waiting area than the others, as well. The waiting area was FRIGID! Second Issue. I’m from Montana, I know FRIGID. We waited and waited and waited…We hit the doors at 10:08 and sat in the waiting area for over an hour and a half. Third Issue. Some of those in our party paid their deposit for S&S with cash, and they took care of that in the same level as the waiting room. I was thankful for semi comfortable seats, but that was absolutely the longest I have every waited to board. Ever. After the fact, we heard – not sure if it is true or not – the ship had docked later than planned, creating the debarkation to be delayed.

When we were finally cleared to board, the VIP, Platinum, and Wedding Parties went first, as always. Then the FTTF was called. Once again, they checked our boarding pass and passport – then we were told we could put our passport away. We were frozen stiff, famished, and crabby from waiting – we did not do an embarkation photo. Once across the plank, they checked us on to the ship with an iPad. No more podium with that musical “ding” – (I kind of missed it…) We walked up to the ship and Viola – Finally on board. And so the elevator jam begins.

Having been on several Carnival vessels, we knew to head to an elevator further back and quickly made it to Lido. We grabbed 4 tables out on the deck (still trying to thaw out, did NOT need to be inside the air conditioned ship) and immediately grabbed a DOD! They used my BOARDING PASS – simple. No hassle at all. Starting with the “ceremonial” Reuben, and them a variety of other food – we all sat down for lunch. On board, at a table, and eating just before Noon.

We meandered down to deck 6 where our Aft Wrap Balcony awaited us. (6450) I have never had the Wrap, so it was time to try and I must tell you, it was worth every penny. I spent a LOT of time on my balcony. A LOT!!

6450 is behind another door – so the cabin next to us AND us had a second door – it was nice for privacy and noise level. Our sign and sail cards were in an envelope in our mail slot exactly where they were supposed to be. As we walked in to the cabin, I headed straight for the deck. It was so big, we had 3 regular chairs, 3 lounger chairs and 2 little tables. The room is an odd shape, so the head of the bed was facing the aft corner – the bathroom was near the left side of the bed. The couch was also along the left side of the bed. The right side of the bed was the windows to the deck. Standard closets, drawers, safe and cooler. The TV – OMG it was DINKY! Didn’t use it often, but when we checked the menu, the map or checked the charges on our SS cards, you had to stand up directly in front of it. The little coffee table moved around; it was not anchored to the floor, thankfully. And there was a sitting chair in the corner that ended up being the catch-all for our clothes. Because we were on 6 and had only cabins above us, the noise was minimal. However, the deck door to the cabin next door slammed ALL THE TIME. IN – OUT – IN – OUT…holy cow! Some of our travel companions had an Aft Wrap on Deck 8 and heard all the chairs being moved around on Lido all the time. Their balcony had more side balcony, ours had more aft. Theirs was set up a little different than ours as well. But 6450 was amazing. We did get soot on the deck on sea days (not a lot) and we got a LOT of trash (food) from jerks throwing stuff over the side of the ship. Our room steward, Agus, was amazing. We did opt for “one time a day” cleaning – it wasn’t really necessary for two in my opinion. We had wonderful towel animals every day and Agus was always spot on clean. Every time he saw us in the corridors, he would ask how we were or what we were doing. Thank you Agus! You gave us exceptional customer service!

Muster was no fun – Somehow, I always get the tall people in front of me. They scanned your S&S card with the Ipad and were actually verifying everyone was in attendance. After it was over, they made us stand there while they read off names of those that were not scanned. Big bad trouble for those people! Their names were broadcast all over! The ironic comment made – the lifeboats are designed to be unsinkable, even if they take on water. Hmmmm isn’t that what they said about Titanic?

Sail off was great – we pushed out into the channel, and went the wrong way! I was confused…but we got to the interior of the channel and turned around and then came back down the channel. Guess they had to turn around somewhere. We passed by 3 full ships and an empty NCL ship as we headed out to the white capping sea approx. 5:00 pm. My kids and I made it to the front of the ship, and stood there until we hit the sea – and wow, we were rocking. In fact, the seas were some of the roughest I recall being on. Whitecaps were the norm…and Rocking and Rolling was the game.

Our suitcases were there early, but we were too busy checking things out to unpack just yet. We headed to LIDO where they were in full party sail off mode – Lots of dancing, lots of drinks! My daughter is now 21 so I was able to buy her a sissy-la-la fu-fu drink with an umbrella. We had fun! We unpacked and met on deck 4 for upper level 8:15 dining. And yes, we stood in line for what seemed like eternity.

We had 2 big tables (one round for 10, one rectangle for 8) in the back port side. Our scheduled waiter was sick, so for the first two days, we had a substitute – Marcel sp? I did not take photos of the menus. We did take several foodie shots – my son is in a culinary class, so that was part of his homework.

We typically ordered one or two appetizers, and passed them around – that way everyone got to taste a large variety. Sometimes, we’d order more than one entrée and do the same. I tried to try something new every dinner. (Not a fan of frog legs, but that may just be the ick factor!) Two nights, I received a cold main course. Not by choice. On the formal night, we were never given a dessert menu nor an option to order dessert – we all just got crème brulee. One night, they ran out of a main dish, which I was very much looking forward to. One night, they opened the wrong bottle of wine. There just seemed to be miscues during our dining all the time. We would be one of the first to be seated, and the very last to leave. Sure made it difficult to get to the shows. Christian, our regular head waiter, was back in action on day 3 and it took him a couple days to warm up – but once he did, he was very meticulous, close attention to detail. He couldn’t control the food quality, but he did his best to make sure the last 4 nights were the best they could be. These guys walk around with enormous trays with food stacked sometimes 4 tall. One must be very strong and have a very limber neck. We watched our food be brought out and sit on the server station for up to 15 minutes. I wonder if the early dining had the same issue. The waiters sang and danced 3 times – I think both formal nights and the last night.

Some of my favorites – Chilled strawberry, bing cherry and peach soups, pumpkin soup, French onion soup, escargot, calamari, chateaubriand, lobster (of course, and it was very good), grilled tofu (don’t judge), filet, cinnamon pumpkin squash yam and cheddar cheese pie, spanakopita, grilled mahi. They had a new banana bread pudding desert dish that was quite good – never got tired of chocolate melting cake, although some nights it was very very saucy/pudding like – not cake like. If there were eggs in it, I would not be comfortable eating it that runny. Grand Marnier Souffle was awesome as was bitter/blanc and the crème Brule. I did enjoy the cheese plate a few nights as well. Never fear – they STILL are serving the bread/rolls – they are putting them in baskets on the tables. It worked ok, although I missed the guys walking around with bread baskets.

We ate brunch in the dining room every day except one. One day on Lido was PLENTY. The benedict was good most of the time, the blueberry pancakes – yum! The cheerios French toast was not that good, but the frosted flakes French toast was much better. VERY SWEET – EEK! Was not a fan of link dining room sausage, but the bacon was ok. The round hash browns were pretty good, great flavor. One can always get steak and eggs. I tried the pork chop one day – wasn’t bad. Wouldn’t order it again though.

Now – for Lido…Breakfast had the same ol same ol. Little boxes of cereal, some fresh fruit, some yogurts, toast, bagels. The hot items didn’t appear to vary, but I was not up there for breakfast very often – The omletts made to order were good if the line was short. The oatmeal was runny, but with a little brown sugar and butter, it was ok. The grits were ok. And yes, someone “assists” you with the bacon. The coffee is much much better in the dining room; lido was yuk! They had green and black tea. Hot chocolate was a bit “thick” but it can be watered down.

For lunch, their “menu of the day” always varied – there was always something being carved – beef, pork, veal, lamb, turkey – they had a soup, and gluten free bread choices. The salad bar was sad – never had blue cheese dressing, sometimes didn’t have thousand. One time, I saw creamy Italian and regular Italian – not even any ranch. ???? The fresh veggie choices were limited – often out of croutons. Their specialty salads were hit and miss – sometimes they were awesome, others, not so much. THE MANNERS OF THE PASSENGERS – A++ I was impressed with so many well behaved and polite people in the buffet area!!

There is a BBQ/Rotisserie upstairs (I loved that food!), Deck 10 above the dessert bar. Brisket, Pork, Chicken, Beans, Mac and Cheese, yum…. They were served on tin plates as well! PLUS – when the Lido drink stations are so busy (or out of coffee….Yes, they ran out of coffee! Not COOL) there is a drink station on deck 10 that was very UNBUSY! AND there are lots of tables, inside, that were very lonely!

The Deli (try the grilled cheese!!) and the Indian Restaurant are on AFT outside the Buffet – The BBQ (burgers and hot dogs) and Pizzeria are on midship outside the Buffet by the big movie screen. There is a “wok” station that you can do a stir fry – be careful about the sauce, the Szechuan is too HOT! And I like HOT! There is also a burrito station that you can have your own burrito created.

For some of the entertainment – I was so excited to see FUNKology – Id read reviews, and was looking forward to it – I’m in a band, and love being able to enjoy and appreciate others. But….they are overrated. They sounded good, but they were boring, no energy, no interaction. There was a solo one-man-band in the Casino – now HE was fun, entertaining, and had more personality than required – but he was not good. Yikes. The piano bar entertainer I was also looking forward to – he was very talented, had a great voice. BUT….asked for requests, and was actually told he was saving that song or this song for the following night. In the industry, we call it “paid practice” when you don’t have a large captive audience. Then he told us he did NOT have a set list and he spent more time asking for requests than he did playing. At least the martini was good. There was a latin band, however, that was always playing when we went to and from dinner in the dining room. They played AWESOME music, I found myself doing the salsa every time they played something!

The Carnival team were unable to do their first show upon leaving Miami – they said it was due to technical issues, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of the rocky seas! The did do their opening show on the last night and I caught only part of it, and it was good. They have a phenom male singer – oh boy that kid could sing the phone book and it would sound amazing. I wish I knew his name. And the dancing talent – wow. I did see a couple other shows (bits and pieces only – we would get out of dinner so late we couldn’t get the whole show). The comedy club was hit or miss – my daughter told me one of the guys tried to be funny, but wasn’t. Another one had everyone rolling in the aisles. There was also a magic show – It was good, short but good.

Ship activities – we attended a cooking demonstration first sea day. Get there early. They would really benefit by installing some large mirrors or a camera/TV so we could see the actual cooking. They prepared 4 dishes, then passed around samples and recipes. That was very enjoyable.

We attended several dance lessons – Thriller, line dancing, salsa dancing. It was as much fun to watch as it was to participate. They have trivia, and bingo and all sorts of spa events ALL THE TIME.

We did manage to find down time to play some cards, do some Sudoku puzzles on my balcony, and the occasional power nap. The retractable roof by the movie screen was closed a lot. They still do the St. Judes fundraiser and the hairy chest contest. I saw synchronized swimming contest for the first time – that was funny! Lots of beanbag/cornhole.

I did not spend much time in the casino, so I don’t have anything to report there. The candy shop is small, but the single roses are cheap! 5$ Make an impression, take a rose to someone at dinner!

I spent more money on photos this time than ever – they were very good. Either that, or I look better than ever! I guess that could be the case as well. The gift shop does have extra things that may have been forgotten (at a premium). They were always having a booze sale, a watch sale, a jewelry sale, a t-shirt sale. Some amazing deals, if that’s your thing.

They had the “taste” bar set up I think on sea days, but did not try anything. I did see people there. I had one fu-fu coffee. It was ok. I’d rather have a fu-fu “drink” though. They had an internet area – the 5$ a day per device for facebook was surprisingly LOW. Hope it stays that way! Guest Services – not impressed. They need to take customer service 101 courses – even though they’ve heard the issue a thousand times, they still need to take ownership of a resolution and at least pretend they care. We requested, and were charged 50$ for a wheelchair that first day, for dinner. I have a 84 year old Mother in Law that was fighting motion sick ness and had recent back surgery. We just asked for a chair to help get her to dinner. Never showed up. It took an act of congress to get that 50$ reimbursed – and no one appeared to care. And that was only the first of four issues we had. Guest Services was not good. The water slide – “bounced you around more than 4-wheeling in an old jeep” – it was “one and done” for my teenage son. Mini golf – was too windy to really participate in.

Debarkation was ok – Again the FTTF was of importance. We left our luggage outside our cabin and got off when we were called (#2) – When you get to the luggage pickup, LOOK AT THE MARQUIS – they will tell you what number will be on what area. We stood in the wrong area watching for no reason…I believe there are 3 units and our luggage was in the middle one. Once you get through customs, and head outside, catching a shuttle to the airport, or catching a cab somewhere was very easy.

Décor of the ship – My daughter called it pepto-bismo vomit. Everywhere. Granted, the design (artwork, décor) is unique. But really? If WE designed a ship based on our experiences – deck layout, décor, menu, room design – makes you wonder what we, as customers, could collectively come up with.

Ports – on a scale from 1 – 5

Grand Turk, Bahamas – 4

With a 7am to 2pm stop, it was difficult to plan what to do. So we didn’t. We decided we’d fly by the seat of our pants. The “older” crowd, some with mobility issues, grabbed a local tour mid morning. Me, I was off the ship as SOON as it docked. There is a wonderful beach area with FREE chairs right on the port. But I knew it would fill up fast. So I was first off, First with a sissy la-la fu-fu in a coconut shell drink, First in the stunning water. We spent the day just lounging around. It was very windy, but this beach area was quite protected between the ship and the lay of the land. We even talked my 15yr old son into getting braids in his long rock-star hair! Great stop. Shopping area is expensive, but I picked up some vanilla!

La Romana, Dominican Republic – 5

We booked with Seavis Tours – We did the Rio Chavon Jungle tour. The transport took us to the drop off point where we got on a covered barge with tables and chairs. We headed up this slow and lazy river with lots of narration, native fruits, and drinks. They taught us to dance along the way, and the scenery was truly spectacular. The river was high, as it has rained recently. But the overcast helped keep the temperature down. We arrived at their camp and they made us lunch of pork, chicken, root veggies, and some other native treasures. Then, it rained again, lasted about 45 minutes. Some of us elected to go kayaking (2 per kayak), and headed down the river – we raced each other, splashed each other, even ran each other into the river bank. I have not laughed like that for a very long time. While we were out playing, the others just hung out on the barge on the river bank and took pictures. When we returned, we played on the tree swing for another 20 minutes. It was very difficult to leave our newly found adventure in the beautiful jungle. HIGHILY RECOMMENDED

Curacao – 4

With an odd stop time of 1pm to 10 pm, we did not plan anything and chose to fly by the seat of our pants, again. That was a mistake. By the time we got off the ship, walked all the way into the port, and tried to find a cab that would accommodate 10 people, we had wasted 90 minutes of daylight. Once we got to Mambo beach, we were very limited on daylight. It cost 3$ to get in and chairs were extra. We opted for a spot in the sand, and headed to the man-made lagoon. It was mostly cloudy, which was a bummer, because we saw SO MANY FISH, I bet they would have been magnificent-er in the sunlight! We saw butterfly fish, angel fish, bar jacks, grunts, snappers, damselfish, seargant majors, grunts, parrotfish, wrasse and a very large trumpetfish. There were little crabs on the seawall that were fun to watch. The water was very calm (as opposed to the rough water we’d encountered up to this point) Unfortunately, it got dark much too quick, and we headed back to the ship. The waterfront there was all lit up like a Christmas tree and it was magnificent! It was still a bummer – we only got about 4 hours of daylight in port. We had kids that were not 21, so we opted not to go back into port after dinner.

Aruba – 5+++

Aruba was the selling point of this Cruise, for me. Bucket list. The shopping at the port was amazing – the prices were outstanding. I was shocked. We grabbed a couple cabs and headed to Palm Beach. We were educated by the cab driver about the strict regulation in Aruba – Cab drivers were heavily regulated, and there would be no beach vendors pushing their wares on the beach. That was a nice surprise. The area between the port and the beach was surprisingly clean – I did not see litter, I did not see panhandlers. Just lots of color and palm trees and water. The water there is beautiful – Many hues of blue and green. We grabbed a spot on the beach, paid for a few chairs and then I was in the water for probably a good solid 3 hours while the kids rented jet skis. The water was rough, there was an undercurrent, but that created waves (which were very entertaining). Some of them big enough to body surf on. Absolutely phenom day! Great sun, not too hot, and no pressure for anything. There are no bathrooms at Palm, and very few places for refreshments. NO ALCOHOL. We should have brought water in hindsight. But for the most part, the day could not have been any better, for me.

In closing,

The ship was as clean as they could get it, but the walls were water stained and dingy in certain areas, the exterior railings and bolts are rusting more that the painting can keep up with, the carpets are as clean as possible but are worn and super faded. The railings need sanded and painted/sealed. The decking is stained and faded, very rough (texture) in some places. The ship just needs a good drydock and taken care of. I know she was in drydock after the engine fire/being stranded in 2010, but she did not appear to be in the same condition the other ships we have been on. And I know the Legend is 6 years older.

Between that, and the lack of service (with the exception of our steward and some dining room experiences), Carnival just did not meet our expectations for this vacation. I’m not an expert – I’m not platinum. But Carnival does do a lot of things right in their industry. Would I do FTTF again – Absolutely. Especially if there is a tendering port. Would I do an aft wrap again – Absolutely. For me, I spend enough time out on our deck to warrant the cost. What would I do different? I would research the ports better – flying by the seat of your pants does not always work out. Especially with an odd 1pm-10pm port. Maybe I’d consider earlier dining? I’ve never liked earlier, and I’ve really disliked your time dining. I like the service relationships typically formed by having the same team for the duration of the vacation. I will typically go to the same bartender as often as possible as well. When we book our next cruise for 2018, will be book Carnival? Doubtful. Too many companies vying for business that will better for what we are looking for. Thank you Carnival – But it just wasn’t worth a repeat trip. We’ve had fun, up until now. We will go where the grass is being watered.
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Cabin Review

Premium Vista Balcony
Cabin 9C 6450
6450 is behind another door – so the cabin next to us AND us had a second door – it was nice for privacy and noise level. Our sign and sail cards were in an envelope in our mail slot exactly where they were supposed to be. As we walked in to the cabin, I headed straight for the deck. It was so big, we had 3 regular chairs, 3 lounger chairs and 2 little tables. The room is an odd shape, so the head of the bed was facing the aft corner – the bathroom was near the left side of the bed. The couch was also along the left side of the bed. The right side of the bed was the windows to the deck. Standard closets, drawers, safe and cooler. The TV – OMG it was DINKY! Didn’t use it often, but when we checked the menu, the map or checked the charges on our SS cards, you had to stand up directly in front of it. The little coffee table moved around; it was not anchored to the floor, thankfully. And there was a sitting chair in the corner that ended up being the catch-all for our clothes. Because we were on 6 and had only cabins above us, the noise was minimal. However, the deck door to the cabin next door slammed ALL THE TIME. IN – OUT – IN – OUT…holy cow! Some of our travel companions had an Aft Wrap on Deck 8 and heard all the chairs being moved around on Lido all the time. Their balcony had more side balcony, ours had more aft. Theirs was set up a little different than ours as well. But 6450 was amazing. We did get soot on the deck on sea days (not a lot) and we got a LOT of trash (food) from jerks throwing stuff over the side of the ship. Our room steward, Agus, was amazing. We did opt for “one time a day” cleaning – it wasn’t really necessary for two in my opinion. We had wonderful towel animals every day and Agus was always spot on clean. Every time he saw us in the corridors, he would ask how we were or what we were doing. Thank you Agus! You gave us exceptional customer service!
Verandah Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Aruba
    Aruba was the selling point of this Cruise, for me. Bucket list. The shopping at the port was amazing – the prices were outstanding. I was shocked. We grabbed a couple cabs and headed to Palm Beach. We were educated by the cab driver about the strict regulation in Aruba – Cab drivers were heavily regulated, and there would be no beach vendors pushing their wares on the beach. That was a nice surprise. The area between the port and the beach was surprisingly clean – I did not see litter, I did not see panhandlers. Just lots of color and palm trees and water. The water there is beautiful – Many hues of blue and green. We grabbed a spot on the beach, paid for a few chairs and then I was in the water for probably a good solid 3 hours while the kids rented jet skis. The water was rough, there was an undercurrent, but that created waves (which were very entertaining). Some of them big enough to body surf on. Absolutely phenom day! Great sun, not too hot, and no pressure for anything. There are no bathrooms at Palm, and very few places for refreshments. NO ALCOHOL. We should have brought water in hindsight. But for the most part, the day could not have been any better, for me.
    View All 1,674 Aruba Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Aruba Cruise Port Review
  • Curacao
    With an odd stop time of 1pm to 10 pm, we did not plan anything and chose to fly by the seat of our pants, again. That was a mistake. By the time we got off the ship, walked all the way into the port, and tried to find a cab that would accommodate 10 people, we had wasted 90 minutes of daylight. Once we got to Mambo beach, we were very limited on daylight. It cost 3$ to get in and chairs were extra. We opted for a spot in the sand, and headed to the man-made lagoon. It was mostly cloudy, which was a bummer, because we saw SO MANY FISH, I bet they would have been magnificent-er in the sunlight! We saw butterfly fish, angel fish, bar jacks, grunts, snappers, damselfish, seargant majors, grunts, parrotfish, wrasse and a very large trumpetfish. There were little crabs on the seawall that were fun to watch. The water was very calm (as opposed to the rough water we’d encountered up to this point) Unfortunately, it got dark much too quick, and we headed back to the ship. The waterfront there was all lit up like a Christmas tree and it was magnificent! It was still a bummer – we only got about 4 hours of daylight in port. We had kids that were not 21, so we opted not to go back into port after dinner.
    View All 1,274 Curacao Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Curacao Cruise Port Review
  • Grand Turk
    Grand Turk, Bahamas – 4
    With a 7am to 2pm stop, it was difficult to plan what to do. So we didn’t. We decided we’d fly by the seat of our pants. The “older” crowd, some with mobility issues, grabbed a local tour mid morning. Me, I was off the ship as SOON as it docked. There is a wonderful beach area with FREE chairs right on the port. But I knew it would fill up fast. So I was first off, First with a sissy la-la fu-fu in a coconut shell drink, First in the stunning water. We spent the day just lounging around. It was very windy, but this beach area was quite protected between the ship and the lay of the land. We even talked my 15yr old son into getting braids in his long rock-star hair! Great stop. Shopping area is expensive, but I picked up some vanilla!
    View All 2,137 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
  • La Romana (Casa de Campo)
    We booked with Seavis Tours – We did the Rio Chavon Jungle tour. The transport took us to the drop off point where we got on a covered barge with tables and chairs. We headed up this slow and lazy river with lots of narration, native fruits, and drinks. They taught us to dance along the way, and the scenery was truly spectacular. The river was high, as it has rained recently. But the overcast helped keep the temperature down. We arrived at their camp and they made us lunch of pork, chicken, root veggies, and some other native treasures. Then, it rained again, lasted about 45 minutes. Some of us elected to go kayaking (2 per kayak), and headed down the river – we raced each other, splashed each other, even ran each other into the river bank. I have not laughed like that for a very long time. While we were out playing, the others just hung out on the barge on the river bank and took pictures. When we returned, we played on the tree swing for another 20 minutes. It was very difficult to leave our newly found adventure in the beautiful jungle. HIGHILY RECOMMENDED
    View All 197 La Romana (Casa de Campo) Cruise Port Reviews
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