This was a typical mid-range Carnival experience. It met my expectations but did not exceed my expectations or 'WOW' me. As usual, the main dining room has really gone downhill and it is a shame that specialty dining is required in the evenings for an excellent meal at dinner. Fortunately, breakfast/brunch and a few lunch offerings like Guys Burgers and the pizza place, are excellent in comparison to similar offerings on other cruise lines i've sailed. Entertainment was highly recycled from previous cruises I have been on since the restart (even other ships) and was OK but once again did not 'WOW' me. At least the comedians and general musicians were great and helped the entertainment quality. The friendly and creative bartenders are one of the best things about the entire cruise like many Carnival cruises ive experienced as well. Rooms do not have USB ports near the beds despite the updates and my ocean view cabin was spacious but a little lacking in terms of comfort, etc. The service was memorable as always though and is one of the things I love about Carnival. Embarkation and debarkation in Charleston was a nightmare compared to embarkation/debarkation at all of the ports I have been to before.
Embarkation in Charleston is a terrible experience. I am so glad that I did not have a long travel time to get to this port too. You are first forced to park far away from the ship itself and then walk to a warehouse that is also very far away to check in. Then you get on a crowded shuttle to the ship and have to wait for each shuttle in front of you to unload. Then you have to wait in a long line to get through security before boarding. I arrived at 10:00am and got onboard at 11:30. The service I received onboard was five stars in every single category. Although my room steward wasn't the best I have ever had and wasn't particularly memorable, she did her job well and efficiently (except for forgetting to bring fresh beach towels one night). The dining room crew went above and beyond, despite being understaffed, to the point that I felt guilty for all they were doing. The food was delicious for brunch and breakfast in the MDR but left a lot to be desired in the evenings but this was not the fault of the dining room crew. The crew at the Javablue coffee shop were extremely quick and efficient without cutting corners, even when there were long lines. Every single bartender I encountered took a lot of pride in their work and made delicious, strong drinks. The fun crew were also entertaining and I was made to feel like they truly wanted an engaging environment even when the activities themselves were limited. Guest services was also quick and efficient while still being friendly.
The service in the food and drink areas was outstanding but the food was very inconsistent in all areas. Breakfast and brunch in the MDR blew me away. Most lunch offerings, including the Mongolian wok and Cucina lunch, were terrible however. Stick with Guys burgers and Pizza at lunch. The only amazing meals I had were in the specialty dining options but they were worth it.
Beds were a lot more firm and less comfortable than what I am used to on a Carnival ship. Couch was a good size and standard in comfort for Carnival. Desk space was nice but the television was a lot smaller than it has been on other updated Carnival ships in my experience. There were no usb outlets near the beds though and the plug ins were limited and far away from the beds unfortunately. Window was nice as usual and the room location was relatively stable and quiet. The bathroom space was slightly more than usual due to a larger shower than usual, which was nice as well.
Excellent city to visit prior to your cruise but just as expensive as Miami, even the cost of parking! As described, embarkation is a horrible experience. I am so glad that I did not have a long travel time to get to this port too. You are first forced to park far away from the ship itself and then walk to a warehouse that is also very far away to check in. Then you get on a crowded shuttle to the ship and have to wait for each shuttle in front of you to unload. Then you have to wait in a long line to get through security before boarding. I arrived at 10:00am and got onboard at 11:30. Sail away was beautiful at least.
The best private island in the Caribbean in terms of natural beauty imho! I did an amazing stingray encounter that was very affordable and left time on the island as well. You must visit this literal heaven on earth.
I went through the trouble of booking a private food tour through Tru Bahamian Food Tours and it was excellent but this still remains one of my least favorite ports. The drinks were better than the food and the food was decent but nothing to write home about. Most of the vendors are either pushy and aggressive or rude and desperate and it is not a fun experience to explore on your own in my opinion, although I know some will disagree. I would not disembark without a private tour or tour through the ship.