This was our 19th cruise and 17th with Carnival. We have cruised two other cruise lines and always enjoyed Carnival much more than the others. The last couple cruises we were surprised to see some changes that involved the removal of things that we liked about Carnival and unfortunately we saw more of the same on this cruise. We are loyal platinum members and are really starting to wonder if Carnival's direction is away from the things we have enjoyed so much over the last decade. We have an NCL cruise booked in March and if it goes really well this may have been our last Carnival cruise ever.
We flew into Fort Lauderdale and rented a car before and after the cruise. We rented with AVIS before and Budget after and the rates were very reasonable. We dropped off the car at the downtown Miami locations on SE 2nd St and picked it up in the same location with dropoff at FLL. There are shuttles from the car rental to the port but they are VERY busy - so we just took a $12 cab ride back and forth to the port to save time.
Embarkation was AMAZING. We showed up and pretty well walked onto the boat. We were on the ship by 11 am and didn't get to the port until 10:30 am. The new method of just showing a boarding pass and walking onto the ship worked really well. Our room key was waiting for us at our door. Our luggage (and it appeared most other people's luggage) was all on the boat well before 3 pm. The most efficient I have seen in all my years. Since it was New Year's Eve there was plenty of champagne flowing! We had a fantastic deck party that night. A perfect way to ring in the New Year.
This was a standard Carnival balcony. Everything was clean and functional. Lots of storage with a balcony big enough for 2 chairs and a table. The air conditioning wasn't critical since the weather was cool for all but one day. One that day the A/C was just good enough to keep the room tolerable but nowhere as strong as the older smaller boat. You now have to decide when you want your room serviced. We tipped $10 on the first day when the cabin steward brought us an ice bucket. The timing for room cleaning was unpredictable and ranged from 8 am to 1 pm regardless if we were in the room or not. Sometimes the glasses were cleaned or replaced but not always. The first night the beds were not turned down and used towels were not taken or replaced.
Obvious hurricane damage. The once peaceful beach is now crowded with umbrellas and private seat sellers.
Great weather, great people and a beautiful spot to walk around.