I was limited both with time and finances so I tried to avoid 5 plane tickets to a European port and chose this ship and cruise line.
This ship came out of NYC which from the start raised a red flag. The entire ship; entertainment, food, and clientele was catering to the urban/hip-hop crowd. I've been on a total of 5 cruises and have gone on back to back cruises out of Italy through Royal Caribbean the past 2 years and never experienced anything such as this. The bartenders confirmed that whatever port you leave is what comes with it.
1) Staff: For a small ship it was very understaffed and the few they had just walked around moping around the deck. Since there are no garbage cans on the open decks where you lay in the sun, the food plates, cups, and napkins were left on the chairs or on the deck to be blown all over the place. I watched several employees walk past chairs where there were dirty plates and cups out in the open and they didn't pick them up. Bartenders and servers would ignore you once they saw that you had the drink package. I've never had to wait for drinks more than 5 minutes on other cruises. The 2 decks that I spent most of the time on LIDO included had water near the pools which is normal, but I almost fell twice near the bars and juice machines because water was flowing everywhere.
2) The "drink package": For starters I'm not a huge drinker, but can make 8 days of drinking worth it. I think with tax it was over $400 with the 10% off discount. The package is NOT included on the day you embark so be prepared to spend money the 1st day. Oh yeah, they allow each adult to bring on board a skinny bottle of wine, BUT you are charged $15.00 for them to open the bottle even if you opened it already. The few basic drinks that I had did have alcohol in them so they weren't awful, but you are limited to 15 drinks per day so spread them out. Soda is included, but the diet coke tasted like flat expired pepsi with a coke label on the can. If you want a great tasting drink with good service go out of your way to the Alchemy bar only. By far the only thing I liked on this cruise.
3) Food: I've never been a huge fan of the restaurants because you order 2-3 things and thats what you get so the buffet is usually a good option. The set up for the buffet on this ship is like a cafeteria. 2 lines where you have to wait until you get to what ever you want even if its only 2-3 things. However, if you are privileged like some of the rude guest on the ship they will jump in and grab only what they want. A good buffet would have several double sided islands where you can jump around to whatever you feel like having. The seating was always packed which meant more plates out on the decks. The clientele scarfed up everything in sight no matter how bad it tasted. To top it off the food was gross. There was nothing appealing that I wanted to go back for. There are 2 Guy Fieri options; the burger place and the pork place. Both were the only things worth eating outside the restaurants. Sushi bar was cheap and good too I will say. Ice machine and ice cream machines were constantly having issues.
4) Entertainment: By far my biggest complaint on tis cruise. Pop stars band was good, but had to play songs that pleased the urban crowd only. On other cruises that I've been on there were a pop band, latin band, solo artists and several piano players who played popular hits. This ship had the Pop stars, 3 violinists that put you to sleep, a piano bar that made you feel claustrophobic, a reggae solo artist with a 7 song playlist, and a DJ who also played R&B. The karaoke bar hour a 1 hour window, but was packed before if started with the same crowd every night. The playlist again was R&B, Soul, New-aged POP so don't bother looking to sing anything you had plans for. We saw the Soul bound show which was good,but the other 2 weren't as good. Latin nights was their version of Latin music; Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, Pitbull etc. Don't bother waiting to hear any Salsa, Merengue, or Bachata anywhere on the ship. The ship stopped in Puerto Rico and DR for Gods sake. The Limelight club at night had a DJ who could only play Hip Hop style music; i.e. Notorious B. Several events that they schedule such as mini golf whole in one competition, nobody from the staff showed up and they never happened. Again completely understaffed.
In general I couldn't wait to not only get off that ship and go back to work, but to also write this review. My kids were bored to death The rope course was closed most of the time and the pools were loaded with hair and god knows what floating in there. Cruise director was the most annoying person to hear at 8:00 AM over the speaker every morning. Sorry Chris. To top it odd we had neighbors who would talk outside their cabins with their whinny kid for 30 minutes while the rest of the hallway was trying to sleep. The clientele would not mingle with us no matter how hard we tried. Carnival has lost all my desire to ever book them again and I will never take any cruise line out of the tristate area. Pay the extra money and fly to distant ports. You won't be sorry. I'm going back to Royal Caribbean or Norwegian from now on.
Should have had a bunk bed with a pull out for our 3 kids, but they had 2 beds and a cot with a huge dip in the middle.