We are a family of four from Montreal, Canada, who cruise extensively. We have 9 previous cruises with Carnival, 22 overall. This trip was supposed to be husband, wife, and son only, but my daughter’s school trip to Europe was cancelled at the very last minute due to “the virus that shall not be named”, so we had to scramble to book her to travel with us. We got absolutely killed on airfare, but Carnival (kudos to them) were very reasonable about changing our booking from a triple to a quad cabin. The fourth passenger’s fare was only slightly more than my son’s, and we upgraded from a porthole to a large outside cabin. Good on them.
EMBARKATION: We had Faster to the Fun, so we basically walked onboard at 11am. No delays whatsoever. There is one major flaw to this system, however: there is no counter stop in the boarding process anymore to attach our credit card to the ship-board account. The result was: charges were being declined soon after we sailed. The lineup at guest services was an hour long, with everyone trying to fix this issue. One employee in the terminal could have saved many passengers a lot of trouble: “Is your credit card attached to your account? No? Over here, please.” Faster to the Fun allowed me to skip the line and use the Platinum/Diamond line, so that alone was worth the cost. Waited 10 minutes max and credit was established. Our cabin was ready right away, and keycards were in the mailbox, but no luggage was to be seen. It was supposed to be there already, due to FTTF. Luggage arrived later, after Muster drill.
CABIN: We had a large outside cabin, which featured two bathrooms, but only one toilet. Cabin was initially very clean, and we only had it made up once a day, so everything was as expected. TV remote didn’t work properly all cruise. We showed it to our steward, but it decided to work whenever we showed it to him. Then malfunction later on. There was only one news channel, and the news was looped and cut for time. I did manage to locate an audio output on the back of the tv to connect headphones (great for watching TV and not disturbing others who might be sleeping). The fridge worked, sort of…. I propped the cabinet door open but the fridge didn’t work any better. Mattresses on the beds were old, lumpy and uncomfortable.
FOOD: This is very subjective, but this was our 9th cruise with Carnival over the years, and every passing year the quality seems to decline, particularly at the Lido lunch buffet. There were perhaps four meat choices, including one carvery choice. Carnival “used to” have the best lunch options at sea, remembering back to our cruises on Dream and Freedom. Not any more. Guy’s Burgers was ok… I found it a bit dry. Mongolian Wok was excellent, as usual. We also ate at the Seafood Shack (snow crab), Italian restaurant and steakhouse, all of which were excellent. We had Your Time Dining, and because we ate late (8:30-9pm) we never had to wait for a table. In fact, the room was nearly empty. The dining room menu had the usual hit-or-miss fare. Prime rib, filet mignon and lobster were good, most chicken dishes were dry/overcooked/kept warm, and the rest was so uninspired I have already forgotten it. Service teams ran the gamut from excellent to downright surly. Room service took about 30 minutes, and the food was ok, I expected better since there is a charge per item now. My wife was looking forward to the dessert offerings and was generally disappointed. She found the cakes lacked sweetness. One night in the Bliss dining room, the accent lighting was blue, which made the food on our plates look absolutely disgusting. Fix this, Carnival! No blue lighting in the dining room. I also found that many Lido buffet servers just stood around, until elbowed by a supervisor to wake up – customer is waiting…. Also, food counter closing times, as announced in the Fun Times, seemed very arbitrary. Some counters closed on time, others were kept open late. No way of knowing in advance.
DRINKS AND BAR SERVICE: Drinks were consistently mixed and had a decent amount of alcohol. Service was good, with one exception: during one comedy show in the Limelight Lounge, the floor waiters were short-staffed, and the second waitress (Alejandra, in her infinite wisdom) decided to follow the same route as the other waitress, leaving half the room un-served. I actually got up and asked her to serve our side of the room, but she ignored me. I know she heard me. No drinks were sold in our half of the room that night, and many were not happy. Profits lost, Carnival! Train your staff!
ENTERTAINMENT: Cruise director was very good at his job, keeping everyone entertained. Production shows were spotty: some singers were excellent, some were WAY off pitch, and no falsetto voice for the Michael Jackson songs??? Special effects and lighting were very good. Soundtrack was pre-recorded. One thing of note: This ship had the most clueless, abysmal DJs of any ship I have ever been on. The same 12 songs played over and over again. AC-DC and Rob Base seemed to rule, with Run DMC (It’s Tricky) thrown in ad nauseum. The 80’s party had the absolute worst song choices…. and Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock (It Takes Two To Play This Song So Much – and there were indeed TWO most awful DJs on this cruise) cleared the dance floor completely. Good job, Mr. DJ! (perhaps you should stick to reggae… just sayin’). On a positive note, the Quest show was hilarious, and the comedians were mostly very good (again, subjective). Some very ill-bred passengers, of which there were many on this sailing, kept a screaming baby in the lounge for the entire comedy show, and a fistfight almost broke out after the show. Some people have no class whatsoever. Take your child and step outside…. PLEASE! The comedian kept his composure throughout the distraction, to his immense credit. No staff member did step in, though. Afraid… I guess. One piece of advice for those wanting to attend the comedy shows: get there 45 minutes early or you will have to stand.
DEBARKATION: An absolute cluster-(you know what) with people blocking the way with later assigned times, waiting to jump first in line. No staff to guide us. Elevators jammed. People exited elevators and jumped a very long line. So we waited an eternity. Once past the card scan, we flowed smoothly, and were outside in minutes with our luggage.
CONCLUSION: The itinerary was very good if you like nice beaches. This was a very ordinary cruise, where the only things that truly stood out cost extra. Food was a complete disappointment. We will try another line for our next cruise.
We had a large outside cabin, which featured two bathrooms, but only one toilet. Cabin was initially very clean, and we only had it made up once a day, so everything was as expected. TV remote didn’t work properly all cruise. We showed it to our steward, but it decided to work whenever we showed it to him. Then malfunction later on. There was only one news channel, and the news was looped and cut for time. I did manage to locate an audio output on the back of the tv to connect headphones (great for watching TV and not disturbing others who might be sleeping). The fridge worked, sort of…. I propped the cabinet door open but the fridge didn’t work any better. Mattresses on the beds were old, lumpy and uncomfortable.