Took a 7 day cruise on the Carnival Breeze out of Galveston in July 2018. Overall it was a mixed experience. Nothing that was bad was bad enough that I wouldn't sail Carnival again (I would), but nothing stood out that would make me want to seek out a Carnival cruise. Overall I had fun, but there were some negatives that went along with the positives.
1) Airport transportation from HOBBY airport. I am usually not one to book transportation through the cruise line, but this was well worth it. Check in staff at the airport was top notch, buses were clean, and upon arrival staff shepherd you through the otherwise chaotic atmosphere at the pier.
2) Cruise Director/ Entertainment Staff - I am also including in this the comedy club manager who was great. Overall they were a really hard working and fun group of people. They always were present with energy and humor.
3) Chef's Table Experience -- While pricey ($95), the food wine and experience were all memorable. I highly recommend this to any foodie on a Carnival cruise.
4) Golf shore excursion in Jamaica - Well run and a fun experience. Saw mixed reviews online, but our experience was positive.
1) Sanitizing Stations -- I have been on approximately 8-9 other cruises and have never seen such little attention paid to sanitation and clean up. Top on this list were the lack of working hand sanitizing stations on the ship. Even when one was found it was about a 50% success rate that it would work. It is not a mystery that disease can spread quickly on a cruise. They need to a better job.
I exclude from this the room stewards, who did a good job. The cabin was always clean.
2) Lack of trash cans -- may lead to some of the problems above.
3) Production shows in theater -- I will say that I though the actors were talented singers and performers. It just doesn't seem they were given much to work with. The shows ranged from mediocre to downright odd.
1) Point of Service Response to Incidents -- If you eventually get through the line at guest services they do a good job. However, considering how overwhelmed guest services is, Carnival needs to do a better job training their front line staff to deal with incidents. On this cruise I witnessed: 1) a slip and fall on the stairs; 2) a foreign object found in food; and 3) (overheard) a physical altercation. In all instances the response from the responding staff to the guests was poor. Just saying sorry is not enough, you need to deal with the issue.
2) Late Night Announcements -- I am not talking about 11-12 at night, I mean at 3-5 in the morning. On multiple nights there were late night announcements that were played in the cabins.
3) Hard sell at the spa -- Yeah, this is common on all cruise lines, but that doesn't make it less bad. Just because I spend money on a spa service does not mean I want to be sold skin cream "x" or miracle cure "y". The hard sell ruined what was supposed to be a relaxing experience.
4) The Buffet -- The food was subpar and the lines were always long. On top of that the opening times were limited. By far the worst cruise buffet I have experienced.
UP TO YOU:
Carnival is a party ship. If this is what you want, Carnival is probably a good place to look. If this is not your scene you may want to look elsewhere. For example each night in the dining room the staff performs. Some people loved this, others would prefer their food delivered rather than wait for a show (I would rate the dining room food as good, but the service as adequate). Similarly, many of the events are focused on a party atmosphere and theme. Again, there is nothing inherently good or bad about this (and Carnival does a good job fostering a fun atmosphere), but it is a matter of personal preference.