We are regular cruisers, and have sailed on Carnival, Norwegian, Celebrity and RCL. We generally like Carnival, as it has the most in terms of activities and is usually a good price point for the quality- this trip however was VERY different. The staff are trying very hard, but there seems to be changes ( decrease) in quality even since our last sailing last December. It is most noticeable in the buffet.
Con's The food really is much lower quality. Everything was cheaply made with lots of filler and dough, and corn starch. The Turkey at the carving station was inedible, we couldn't cut it, and then couldn't chew it. The gravy wasn't gravy, it was corn starch and water.
They no longer have butter at the buffet it is wiped oil spread, which is tasteless. We are not picky eaters at all, so this was surprising. The line ups EVERYWHERE on the ship were horrendous. We sailed on the sister ship, the Breeze, in 2015 and it was awesome, so we expected the same but were sadly disappointed. The Mongolian wok on the Lido deck was so poorly laid out. You wait in line while the chef cooks in front of you, but it takes 4-5 mins per customer. We waited 45 mins twice and only moved a few spots forward so we gave up. My mother in law waited two hours and got her dish which she said was tasteless. Nothing made sense in the line ups either, the condiments were before the mains...so all the oatmeal toppings were before the pot of oatmeal. The sauces were before the carving stations, and the pseudo butter was before everything. It makes no sense what so ever.
The spa staff literally harass you to try to sell you massages or services- These staff really need to understand "No Thank You" means No. I know they are only trying to make money but I started avoiding them every time I saw them. they were relentless. The music around the Pool was blaring loud, and we normally really like all the fun and games around the pool, but we couldn't stay there this time, it was just too loud. The DJ really turned up the volume too much. And one day and a half our daughters room was not made up and not attendant to be found. We went looking for him, but couldn't locate him, so a day and half later when we saw him was asked specifically for the room to be made up, at least with dry towels. That was a first for us to have to do that. I asked him if it was because we prepaid our gratuities which he just smiled and said No, but I didn't believe him.
The pools are filled with children and the hot tubs had 25-30 kids. There was no sitting in them safely or comfortably. I do challenge the parents on this one- please young kids in the hot tubs in not a good idea. There were children running everywhere- I don't mind children playing , but they were running the halls and the buffet and the pools. It made it very unpleasant. We went to the Serenity deck but it was closed so we had very few options.
They need to move the Punch liner Comedy club to the main theater. Not everyone fits in the Comedy club- and it is standing room only , which is not ideal. Even arriving 45 mins before the show you don't get a seat.
The Pro's- Embarkation and Debarkation were a breeze!! very very smooth and easy. We found the rooms to be much bigger than other Carnival Ships. The entertainment ( DJ aside) was excellent. the shows were great, and there was a lot to do in the evenings. The Dive In Theater was excellent with great movies. The Orchestra of violins were excellent and the Love and Marriage show was funny as usual. The common areas were very clean and although the ship is showing it's age, the staff do a great job of keeping it clean.
The Cruise director Simon, was high energy and did a great job. Sail Away party was wonderful and very high energy.
The food in the dining room was pretty good, much better than the buffet; however, the staff seem very stressed. they made many mistakes, but it looked like they were trying their best. I think they might have too many tables perhaps? Maybe if they removed the showtime song in the dining room at night the wait staff could focus on doing their job of serving.
Usually we are addressed by name by the room attendants or the wait staff. There was only one waiter that did this ( Ryan) in the Northern Lights. He was exceptional. Otherwise the staff just seemed way to busy to notice or care. At one point the hostess wanted me to download the Carnival Hub app in order to proceed into the dining room. I explained that my phone is one Airplane Mode, I don't have an international plan, or WiFI and so I didn't do that, she seemed very frustrated that we hadn't made reservations for dinner at the anytime dining, I said we don't mind waiting but I didn't want to download the app. that was not the answer she wanted to hear.
Overall we had fun but definitely noticed the cost saving cuts in the buffet and the room services. We probably won't sail Carnival again anytime soon, as I would rather pay a little more and get better quality. .
good cabin at the front of the ship. two bathrooms, one with a tub. was a very good size
good port as always
great embarkation and debarkation