I rely heavily on reviews when planning my vacations. I tend to start my trip feeling pretty well informed on the good, bad and ugly to expect. I am also not one to complain and would much rather write a 5/5 review than anything negative. I am going to write todays to hopefully help other first time cruisers be prepared.
This is the first time my family of five had been on a cruise ship. We booked to try something new and the price fit our budget well. We had a great vacation and made many happy memories, we enjoyed times on the ship and there were some flaws.
I will start with the good.
Embarkation/Debarkation and any other typical waiting lines (buffet, shows, guest services) all ran quickly and smoothly for me. I never really felt the crowds kept us from having a good time.
We all enjoyed the food. I really enjoyed the breakfast burrito at Blue Iguana and found there was rarely anyone else there so always had quick service. We had the early seating at the Wind Song and I found meals to be good. Our servers were also polite, friendly and helpful.
The entertainment kept us busy. My kids had a great time dancing during the parties and always found something to do. Many times we had to choose between one or two activities because they overlapped times.
Staff were friendly, I always heard hellos, good mornings and such while walking around. I also always saw staff hard at work cleaning in the early morning.
I knew the ship was older and I understood I would see the wear and tear because of that. I just didn't realize how extreme it was. You can definitely see at any area of this ship its age. That said cosmetics are not going to make or break my vacation and we ignored this.
My kids did not like the kids clubs (we made them go one morning to try). It may be personality, but my 8 year old stated they made him feel like a baby. My 10 year old said most the video games did not work, and they were not allowed to use the ones that did (age limits), my 16 year old said she was the oldest one there and left right away. We attended a Family Bingo in one of the rooms. Not well set up, a dozen families cramped into a small space, sitting on the floor. Than getting lectured by the cleaning crew because they were blocking doorways. Should have been set up somewhere everyone could fit.
People are correct about smells. Not every where and not always. We were on floor 6 near the back of the boat. By day two every time I walked a certain way down the hall to get to our room you would get a garbage smell. By day four there were a few walkways around the pool area that smelled heavily of sewage.
As I stated I was not going to let the cosmetics of the ship affect our vacation, but it was hard to look past the fact that our bedding was always dirty. Normally I don't have rooms cleaned each day, but for this trip I had housekeeping change things daily. Each day more than one of our five bed linens had stains. This part is on me, I don't like complaining and I hoped each day when they were changed it would be fine.
The bugs I could not get past. I fully understand this is an environment where critters can spread easily and its not always 100% fault of the service. When my daughter woke up day 2 covered in spots (she was sleeping in one of the upper bunks) I truly believed it was an allergic reaction. She took allergy meds for the next couple days and we continued on. When night 4 she woke crying that her feet were burning, had more bites and the meds were not helping I knew. I gave her more meds and informed guest services of my concerns. I am not assertive enough, I was asked if she needed medical attention and that was all. The next day was debarkation and we were herded off with no time to return to complain. My poor daughter had more bites, and by this point all of us had a few, but hers were extreme. My entire trip home all I thought of is how they move us out and more in so quickly. Some poor other family or child may end up with the same problem. As soon as I returned home I contacted Carnival on the phone. I felt better that they said they would have the room checked and assessed again and went over the protocol that each room goes through at turn around. Not perfect (obviously) but apparently they try. At least this will help the next family, but did nothing to help my daughter who spent three days of her vacation medicated to stop the itching. Not to mention I am still redoing laundry and quarantined my luggage to be sure we did not bring along these extra souvenirs.
So through this all I will say this.
Would my family cruise again--I think so
Would we use Carnival---I really don't know
Will we return to the Ecstasy--Nope