Upon hearing that Carnival was beginning to leave from San Diego, my family decided it would be a great first cruise for 5 year old twins. We took a New Years cruise to fit in winter break. My husband and I have cruised previously (including on Carnival).
Embarking was pretty quick and straightforward. We had one of the first embarkation times and made it fairly smoothly on. Getting off the boat was unexpectedly quick if you checked luggage. We were off the boat hours before we anticipated we would be.
To take advantage of a discount emailed to me, I had booked a massage for 3pm on embarkation day. Well, turns out kids club does not open on embarkation day until 8pm. There was no way of knowing that before getting on the ship. Then I go to the salon to find out that since the 3pm was in the middle of the safety drill, the massages had to be rescheduled. As I was at the desk, I was not the only one who had prebooked online showing up and being rescheduled. Why would we even be allowed to book at that time if they could not perform services? The staff did work to find a time that evening for the massage, but it was at a higher rate than what I had prebooked for. I was not told that at the time of booking either. The massage was nice, but I really disliked the sales pitch before and after. I stayed away from the salon the entire time following that.
The kids club was honestly what we were most excited about. Problem is, the hours were always varied. We'd drop our kid off and be told that it closes at a random time for an activity (that was not previously posted). It was a little frustrating in that regard. I had my kids there for one late night (New Years) and picked them up close to 1 am. Instead of droopy kids calmly watching a movie or something, they were running and jumping around. It was hard getting them to sleep that night. My kids had only warm feelings about the kids club. They made a request to not go one day, but when they went they had a good time. Overall, I'd say it was an average experience for them there.
We ate in the main dining room most nights with some buffet trips. We never did any specialty dining (partly because of the lack of information for when I could drop my kids off prior to sailing). I was really disappointed that my kids received the same menu every night. The adult food was fine, nothing too special. But if the adults have tacos on the menu, how hard is it to make a kid's special of a taco? Hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, and chicken nuggets were pretty much their only choices. One night we walked by where the kids club was dining and they had better meal choices for kids there. I was not impressed.
We also did the Green and Ham character breakfast. The characters coming in were fun, but we also saw them for pictures later in the cruise and would not have had to pay for it. The meal options were pretty much the same thing you'd get on the buffet, except "green eggs and ham". That was buffet scrambled eggs dyed green and Canadian bacon. My husband ordered it, and it was meh. Pretty much I paid $20 for my kids to eat cereal and take pictures with characters they saw again for free two days later. For something we were excited about, it was a disappointing experience.
New Year's Celebration
The party was pretty fun with fun wearable giveaways (like light up glasses) and complimentary toasting champagne. They did combine all the parties at the end which made for a packed lido deck for a count down.
I had some specific criticisms that I pointed out, but overall it was an okay cruise. They kids had fun. Their favorite items were all you can eat soft serve and the mini-golf course. They also really loved the on board Build-a-Bear activity, complete with Carnival themed clothing options for the dolls. If you do that, line up early. My husband and I were able to enjoy some peace and quiet, which is what we really wanted from the trip. It was a budget cruise and felt like it.
The obstructed view, really had no view. We did not care about the view, but rather enjoyed being able to open the french door and let in the sea breeze. If you want some ocean air and want to save money, it is a good option. If you want a view, not the room for you.