We sailed the Carnival Breeze for our bi-annual Spring Break cruise, April 13-20, 2019. It was a great cruise but did have a few negatives.
First, the good and very good:
-Embarkation – the new way that Carnival does this worked very well, and boarding the ship was an easy process. Much better that the prior process of waiting in lines to see a representative, showing your credit card, getting your room keys, etc. Now it’s just walking into the security area, having your boarding pass scanned, getting a boarding group number, having your picture taken, getting screened and waiting for your number to be called. Your room keys are in a tamper-proof envelope in your cabin’s mailbox.
-Food – the food everywhere was quite good, especially the desserts in the main dining room and the “Sweet Spot” in the Lido Marketplace. I wanted to try many of the dining options I’ve not tried on my prior Carnival cruises since the Breeze has so many to choose from. BTW, they changed the Tandoori station (which was included) in the aft pool area to a Seafood Shack (additional charges apply). I’m glad they did, as the lobster roll platter was outstanding – 2 rolls with fries for $14, and the lobster filling was fresh and plentiful. I also tried the new Carnival Deli menu – the Cuban sandwich was very good. Also, I tried the Mongolian Wok for the first time and enjoyed my noodles with beef in Sichuan sauce (spicy). I was going to try the free lunchtime pasta bar at Cucina del Capitano, but some of our cruise mates tried it and said it was nothing special. The new food tries also included Guy’s Pig and Anchor Barbecue (very good) and the light soup and salad lunch offerings in the Plaza Café. Of course, previously-experienced Guy’s Burger Joint was visited as well as the Blue Iguana Cantina for a breakfast burrito and lunchtime tacos. All very good as usual. We ate breakfast in the main dining room every morning except one, for Sea Day Brunch or Open Seating breakfast, to avoid the mobs of people in the Lido Marketplace. Food was good; however, it was hit and miss on the poached or over-easy eggs having a soft yolk. Dining room food for dinner was very good with few exceptions.
-Drinks – we had the Cheers! Package so we were able to try many different concoctions from many different bars. Our favorites were the Casino Bar, Alchemy Bar and Red Frog Pub. Drinks were consistently prepared, and after-dinner specialty cocktails at Alchemy were a nightly event.
-Entertainment – very good shows in the main theater, with talented singers & dancers and nice staging/special effects. The Country/Rock band and singing duet were both great. We enjoyed the live music nightly. They also had a modern string quartet that played today’s songs instead of traditional string compositions.
-Shops – the Breeze has a wide variety of shops with reasonable prices. Of course, my wife got a “souvenir” at the EFFY fine jewelry shop. We also won a raffle there for a signature EFFY jeweled panther keychain and ruby pendant necklace.
-Service – overall the service was quite good, and the crew we encountered friendly and wanting to help. Service at the bars was quick and efficient. Our dining room team (Early Seating Dinner) was hard working and did a good job all week, learning our names the first night and using them every night thereafter. However, it is apparent that they have reduced staff in recent years and the team was stretched thin on the busy nights (first night, Elegant nights, etc.), as the ship was at capacity, with 4700+ guests on board (standard double occupancy is 3690). The Guest Services staff were some of the best I’ve encountered – I’ll describe an issue I had with the cabin involving Guest Services later in this review. There were some inconsistencies with certain aspects of the service we experienced, which are also described later in this review.
-Cabin Steward – our Steward Victoria was probably the best we’ve had on any cruise, on any cruise line. She did an amazing job of keeping our stateroom clean and comfortable and supplied with what we needed.
-Casino – it was large with plenty of slots and table games. I don’t gamble, but my wife certainly made some donations on the slots. As mentioned previously, the bartending team was top-notch. However, as this was Carnival and the only indoor venue that allows smoking, be prepared for a constant smoke smell – the ventilation clears the actual smoke quickly, but the odor is persistent.
Shore Tours – we did Carnival-sponsored tours in each of our four ports. All were fun and informative.
Now, the not-so-good:
-Cabin – although our category 8C veranda cabin was Carnival’s usual rather roomy size compared to other lines, with a comfortable bed and couch, our cabin #8441 developed a sewer-like smell shortly after sailing. Long story short, they were unable to resolve the issue during our voyage. Our steward said this was not the first time someone raised this issue, so I would recommend avoiding this cabin. That said, once I raised the issue with Guest Services, they did make every effort to resolve the issue, sending the floor manager, HVAC technician and even a Guest Services representative to investigate the matter. Our workaround was to leave the bathroom door slightly opened, as the air intake vent in the bathroom was quite powerful and kept the air circulating and the smell reduced. We bring a bungee cord with us to prop open the balcony door, so this was also done occasionally – when opening the cabin door at the same time, the air from the hallway comes rushing in to refresh the cabin air. These steps kept the issue to a minor annoyance, and Guest Services compensated us with an OBC that we felt was satisfactory compensation or our inconvenience.
-Certain Main Dining Room Service – at Breakfast/Sea Day Brunch, it sometimes took a while to get attention by the servers after being seated. It sometimes took several minutes before we received water and coffee. Also, it sometimes took a while to receive our orders, even when adjacent tables received theirs even though being seated after us. Finally, getting bar drinks/wine at dinner was a challenge, especially in the first few days of the cruise. Things were better later in the week.
-Crowds/Lines – this was the largest cruise ship we’ve ever sailed, and as mentioned previously, the ship was at capacity since it was a Spring Break cruise. The chair hogs we out in force, so we didn’t even try to lay out in the sun while on the ship. We got our sun time on our shore tours. Also, lines for certain food stations in the Lido Marketplace could be very long at peak breakfast and lunch times. In fact, the one morning we had breakfast on Lido the lines were so long at the buffet I was able to get a Blue Iguana burrito (no line!) and finish it before my wife returned with her eggs and bacon from the buffet. Finding available tables could also be a challenge. Getting off the ship at certain ports of call also had big backups. The cruise being over Spring Break meant over a thousand kids on board, so there was plenty of hallway running, (every) elevator button pushing, and loud areas. Definitely not a cruise for relaxation.
-Debarkation – chaotic and slow-going. It seemed to me they called too many decks (for self-assisted departures) and Debarkation Zones (for checked luggage folks) at the same time, overwhelming the solitary forward staircase and elevators used for this purpose. This needs to be better-managed.
-Overall – a great cruise with lots of dining choices, great drinks and service (with a few exceptions) and smooth embarkation process. Although there were some issues (the cabin odor being the main one), the weather was great all week, and we enjoyed the ports and sea days. I would definitely cruise the Carnival Breeze again, just not at Spring Break and not in cabin #8441.
Although our category 8C veranda cabin was Carnival’s usual rather roomy size compared to other lines, with a comfortable bed and couch, our cabin #8441 developed a sewer-like smell shortly after sailing. Long story short, they were unable to resolve the issue during our voyage. Our steward said this was not the first time someone raised this issue, so I would recommend avoiding this cabin.
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