First of all, our sail date was out of NYC on 9/11/11, so I was a bit unsure how the feel would be in the City. But, all was well. Appeared to be just another day at the Pier.
Embarkation was very smooth. We arrived about 11:30am. When we got to the line, we sailed right through as the attendant opened up another line at the same time we arrived.
Once checked in, we were a bit confused where to go and ended up entering the ship before our zone was called. But, no one stopped us, so for us, it was a convenient mishap.
Entering the ship we went right for a drink assuming it was too early to see our cabin. There were no signs or anything to let you know when it was best to go to your cabin, so we waited about an hr, then went, and it was ready. We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the room. One of the biggest balcony staterooms we've had on any ship so far. Plenty of closet and drawer space and even a roomy bathroom. Our attendant Daniel Lopez was AWESOME, super friendly and always had a smile on his face. We called him The Ninja, because even if we only left our room for a bit, when we came back our room had already been cleaned!!
As for the ship itself, we found it to be a bit small for our liking. Now, I will say we may have felt that way because our last cruise was on the Oasis of the Seas which is the one of the largest and newest ships out there. I also didnt realize at the time of booking that this was a spirit class ship and a bit older. Which was evident in the decor. There was a mildew smell on the lower decks, in fact at one point toward the end, they had the casino closed off for shampooing the carpets.
The food wasnt much to our liking either. We're not much for the whole dressing up deal, so on previous cruises we've always pretty much stuck to the buffets for breakfast and dinner. After trying the buffet for 2 days, we couldnt stomach it anymore, so attempted the dining room for dinner. The 1st nite was the very best. Had the sweetest lobster ever, desserts were nice and the staff very attentive. We did the My time dining and had no wait time.
On nights there after, food was bland. We often didnt finish any of our appetizers or dinners. Now, I will say, the staff were very concerned and often offered us other options, but we're not big eaters anyway so we would decline.
Due to this experience, we were very looking forward to our night out at Nick and Nora's. But, disappointed once again. For the $30.00 per person cost, we werent impressed. I originally wanted the surf and turf, but it was a very small lobster that came with that option. When I asked if I could have the bigger lobster they told me it would be an additional $30.00. So I opted for just the larger lobster tail and no filet. I actually found the lobster I had in the main dining room a couple days before was much sweeter and a larger portion. Although the ambiance, location and view are the best on the ship!!!
It didnt appear there were many activities during the day. After the 1st two days, we were a bit bored. The 2 pools were extremely small, and the people would go to the pool area very early, save seats, then not utilize them much of the day. The 2 jacuzzi's were full all the time. When we finally did get to go in one, it wasnt even hot.
The attendants by they pool were exceptional. Always there and quick to return with our drinks. I found it funny though, that not many people hung out at the bars on the ship decks. That's where we had normally met up with new people on past cruises. It may have been because there was not much room since the decks chairs were so close by. Or many times, there was no bartender.
Also the decks where the pools were located were super slippery. I saw several people fall over the course of 8 days. And heard many older people complaining about the conditions. They had staff trying to keep the area's dry, but to no avail. They should definitely look into this hazard.
Our port of call was Bermuda and we loved it. (Tropical storm Maria and all.) We preferred to be off the boat and stayed on the island as long as possible. Horseshoe Bay is beautiful and Swizzles is a must. They have the best battered fish sandwich I've ever tasted. A trip to Hamilton is good is you like to shop. We had the best ever sushi at a place called Yashi. If you're a sushi lover, GO!!
Back to the ship- Entertainment-I'll be honest we didnt see any of the shows in the Phantom theater. Didnt really appear to be any that we cared to see. However, we love, love, loved the comedy shows. We were a bit put out though, since this was the only entertainment we liked, we tried to stay for a 2nd show with another comedian, but were pretty much strongly advised to leave and let other's attend the 2nd showing. I can understand their request to a point, but felt we should have been able to stay if we wanted. (BTW, Shawn, the asst cruise director was a hoot as the host for the comedy shows).
Stores were nice, prices pretty good.
Everyone was pretty friendly except for the officers and security staff. Never smiled, never said hello. I was actually pretty surprised at the considerable presence of security on this ship. I thought it was because of higher security due to 9/11, but when I inquired, was told this is the way it always is. Maybe because it's the fun ship and it get's rowdy? I can say this was a very low key and keep to yourself kind of crowd. Or maybe the high security kept everyone more subdued.
The best day we had on the ship was the last Sea Day. We took the Behind the scenes ship tour. We went to the bridge and met the captain and crew, where we were able to have group and individual pictures taken. Viewed the galley and crew eating areas, engine room, backstage of the phantom theater and spoke with a few crew members. It was an exceptional tour and a true highlight for us. Just a friendly reminder, dont take your cell phone or camera on this tour, you will be searched before the tour begins.
Debarkation was smooth!!! We were off the boat by 9:am.
Sad to say, it will probably be a while before I would try another Carnival Cruise. They kept saying this was the "fun ship", but I didnt see it or feel it. For the budget cruiser or 1st time cruiser it may be a different experience.
We were pleasantly surprised at the size of the room. One of the biggest balcony staterooms we've had on any ship so far. Plenty of closet and drawer space and even a roomy bathroom.