This review concerns only the Carnival ship and company. Our cruise was an adult-only charter and we had no complaints about its organisers.
Our overall impression was of a penny-pinching enterprise seeking to squeeze every last dime from its captive customers.
- Food in general was very poor. Everything in the buffet was cold and poor quality (exception: the bacon was lovely). The MDR was pretentious and lacking real quality. The smaller venues (omelette station, Blue Iguana, pizza bar...) were notably better although the burger bar food was disgusting. Most places were closed too often, giving a poor choice of food for "non-standard" meal-times. Conform or go hungry?
- Drinks prices were outrageous (with alcohol packages unavailable on charters - I can't think why). Wine “deals” were available at slightly less outrageous prices, whereby you effectively pre-purchased bottles from a selection. Having taken our money THEY RAN OUT of the most popular wines. We felt defrauded. We also often received our wine when our meal was half over. Water that wasn't heavily chlorinated and decent coffee also had to be paid for.
- They confiscated the bottles of wine we brought onto the ship as apparently we had put them in the “wrong suitcase". They were never returned, despite the letter that said they would be! That left a VERY bitter taste (but presumably a rather pleasant one for staff).
- The internet was extremely expensive, with very limited options to choose from. There definitely ought to be a per-minute option too for those who just want to research a lunch in port etc.
The staff, without exception, were friendly and helpful. However there was a noticeable lack of management and training at the level above their individual jobs. They need to know how it all fits together!
Our cabin, a deck 7 interior, was absolutely fine. It was well designed, had just enough storage, and nothing was damaged or missing. The only problem - a grave one - was that the toilet stopped flushing on several occasions towards the end of the cruise. It was quickly fixed each time but it was difficult to cope with, particularly in the night. The self-serve launderette on our floor was useful although each wash, dry and detergent cost a rather high $7.50. The gym facilities were also adequate.
The ship has had major refits, I believe. There are certainly some oddities, including confusing lifts. Two major problems are: 1. The casino forms a main thoroughfare, particularly when it's raining, and smoking is normally allowed there. It wasn't on our cruise, but the stench lingers. 2. Everyone walks through the Limelight Lounge to get to the MDR as there are few viable alternatives. The route runs along the edge of the stage - most off-putting for everyone.
Our cabin was absolutely fine - although basic, as expected. It was well designed, had just enough storage, and nothing was damaged or missing. Improvements would include: an available European socket, other than the one used for the fridge; a make-up and/or shaving mirror; a shower screen rather than curtain; a soap dispenser for the basin. We discovered we could use the ship's forward-facing camera on the TV as both a nightlight and a "window" showing when daylight arrived.
Our Croatian steward, Gordana, was extremely pleasant and always had time for a word although she was clearly extremely overworked.
The only problem - a grave one - was that the toilet stopped flushing on several occasions towards the end of the cruise. It was quickly fixed each time but it was difficult to cope with, particularly in the night.