We took three Princess cruises in the last 9 months. While all these trips were enjoyable, we didn’t feel the current service level on Princess is as good as what we experienced before Covid epidemic. Since Princess is on the decline and our last Carnival cruise was almost three years ago, we were wondering what has been happening to the previous service gap between Carnival and Princess? Here is our recent experience on a 3-day trip aboard Carnival Radiance.
Embarkment: We believe our cruise ship was full or near full. But, embarkment was efficient and smooth, taking us less than 30 minutes to get on. Carnival is doing a better job, compared to Princess both at Los Angeles port and Fort Lauderdale port (which was very chaotic)!
Food: Food at main dining room was above our more realistic expectations (given cruise fare difference). Braised short ribs, Mahi-Mahi and steak were all well executed, with Mahi-Mahi probably better cooked than the main dining room on Princess. Food items at Big Chicken and Guy’s Burger Joint were quite tasty. Which venue is better is probably a personal choice. For free lunch at Cucina del Capitano, pasta with white clam sauce and meat lasagna were surprisingly good. We also enjoyed smoked beef and sausage at Guy’s Pig and Anchor and fish taco at Blue Iguana. However, we were surprised by how limited choices were at Lido buffet now. Whether it is lunch or dinner, passengers usually have 8 or so main dishes to choose from (one fish, one beef, one pork, one chicken, one item at carving station, maybe two vegetables), on top of a salad bar and desserts. Food quality was not very good and it was hard to tell how fish dish differed between lunch and dinner. While we enjoyed food at other free venues, they were really fast food choices. Moreover, they served the same items every day, and were either closed or required a fee after 5 or 6 pm. So, we felt 3-day cruise was probably the maximum that we could enjoy these fast food places, without getting into too much repetition. As a result, we would now hesitate to go on longer Carnival cruise trips in the future, Radiance or other ships.