So, I review a lot... I like to be fair, and as someone who has taken quite a few cruises, I feel like I can be fair and give an honest review. I am giving it a "3" as a generous gesture... I battled between a 2 and a 3. Read ... Read More
So, I review a lot... I like to be fair, and as someone who has taken quite a few cruises, I feel like I can be fair and give an honest review. I am giving it a "3" as a generous gesture... I battled between a 2 and a 3. Read on... you decide:
So, lets first start with the GOOD: I love the cruise director and her staff. Emma has a great deal of energy; she personifies a "fun ship". She is supported by Jax (as fun and energetic as Emma) and Deonne (don't ask if he is related to Eddie Murphy..he is not), and Tai. They all add to the fun that Carnival works on creating. As a seasoned cruiser, we had been on Carnival years ago, but still left it as a last resort cruise. After we went on The Magic however, it turned out attitude around and we have been on a couple more since. We found that we like Carnival better because they keep it youthful. Just because we are over 50 doesn't mean we do not like current music and activities. Carnival seems to be more likely to have a smattering of current music thrown in with their oldies... other cruise lines seem to have missed this. The other good things... I will always give props for having them adding in the 2.0 restaurants (Guy's Burger Joint, Blue Iguana), a self-serve soft serve machine available 24/7, and hot chocolate machine right next to the coffee.... these are all little food things that make the trip so nice. We went to JiJi's Asian Specialty restaurant -- it was so good we went back the next night. It's the best $15 you can spend anywhere on board. Breakfast is awesome at Blue Iguana, lunch at Guys Burger, pizza or the Italian Cantina. ALWAYS get the Chocolate Melting Cake for dinner... no need to look elsewhere. These are things Carnival excels at.
So on to the AVERAGE. Not good, not bad... just annoyingly expected -- the shows, the Lido, the pools. Shows: always 4 guys, 4 girls, usually with a costume extravaganza tripping through the 60's. 70's. 80's, etc... its all fine just as we expected. Very few things new and special. We usually do not feel worried if we miss a few... we know essentially how they are going to be. In the Rock show they did have a nice video screen display that kicked it up a notch. Other than that, you can go pretty see this on any ship. The Lido -- the food has the same fare, nothing that makes you feel upscale or special, but it feeds 3000 people several times a day... so meh.... We actually opted to stay away from the Lido Marketplace, and except for a drink or dessert, we ate elsewhere. The Pools -- there are only 2 -- one quite small at the base of the waterfall on the Serenity Deck (over 18yr) and the main pool - the Beach Pool which is slightly bigger, but always overrun by screaming kids. They need 1-2 more pools to even out the pool-to-sunbather ratio... the waterfall pool was pretty cold as well, so needless to say, there were not that many passengers in pools, just hot tubs. As expected, the beds in the cabins are flat and old (except the little mountainous ridge where they push them together) and the water didn't drain in the shower. Since I find this on almost every cruise, I chalked that up to average.
Ok, so here is the BAD and the "What were you thinking?" Carnival section -- these are the things that has caused us to reconsider taking Carnival again:
1) Dirty windows. Sorry, it sounds minute, but everywhere you wanted to look out of the windows, all you saw was dirty filthy. If just once they tried to clean them, before, during, after the cruise, I would have chalked it up to bad weather, whatever. This also was the same on the last Carnival we were on, and I realize, this is a cost cutting measure, that makes the entire ship look filthy dirty. I would not have noticed anything else being dirty had I been able to look out of our departure and seen the Statue of Liberty, or the turquoise waters of Bermuda, or anything not covered by filthy dirty windows. To even take a photo, you have to stand on a chair and lift your camera over the top of the windows... in the dining room etc, you are just out of luck... bleckh.
2) Just as we reach our room, our room steward approaches us, and says "when would you like your room clean, in the morning or evening?" We were totally taken aback as one of the big things people always talk about while cruising is that their room is magically clean every time they enter. We hesitantly chose morning and then he had us sign a paper saying we aggreed to that. I felt like I was just cheated by an insurance company. It was weird and left us with a bad taste for Carnival's cost cutting measures and our cabin steward.
3) The itinerary. We were supposed to reach Bermuda at 1pm on Monday, and not leave until 5:45 on Wednesday. Just before the cruise left, we received notice that due to "operational considerations", they were arriving Monday, leaving on Tuesday evening, and coming back to port Wednesday morning and leaving again on Wednesday night. They whole reason we took this itinerary was the appeal of not having to get back to the ship. All other cruises give you a short visit and then you spend the rest of the time getting back to the ship before it leaves. This itinerary was so appealing. We had already been invited to a barbecue dinner with friends of friends, and so we ended up getting a room and staying in Bermuda rather than having to hurry back. It was inconvenient to say the least. Not one crew member could answer the question with any reasonable answer as to what they were doing with the ship, and why they could not do it at a different time.
4) the Thermal Suite at the SPA -- we booked a spa deck cabin and paid a premium for this (they are about $400 more than the other cabins). This gives us unlimited access to the thermal suite, which we had on the Magic about 2 years ago... we were excited to be back and enjoy this... again, another main reason for booking this itinerary on this ship. When we got there, they said that it was being repaired and that it would be open Sunday morning, then Sunday afternoon... then, Monday morning I was so frustrated because it finally opened right before we got to Bermuda. Now that we were in port it was relatively useless as well since our touring time was needing to be condensed. After the Thermal Suite opened, only about half of the lounge chairs heated up, the steam/rain showers didn't work at all, the Laconium was cold rather than warm and the Eucalyptus steam room had no scent. The regular steam room worked great if that helps at all.... The spa was a useless mess. Everyone who either paid for the thermal suite or a spa cabin should have received a refund.
Overall maintenance was lacking -- they lost water pressure on the last morning we were there and toilets would not flush (ew) and coffee makers etc were struggling. Overall, everything just feels old and tired and like they are putting band-aids on everything until they go to drydock. I would guess they have a lot of crew turnover as everyone just looks at us with a sad grin and a "sorry..." look on their faces. Read Less