February 1, 2004
It's difficult to describe the full experience aboard a Carnival ship since it varies from exceedingly good to awful. First, don't expect Carnival to pamper you like some Cruise Lines. They spend a great deal of time explaining why things are the way they are instead of fixing them. For instance, my electronic access card demagnitized three times while i was using the internet cafe, each time my card was replaced they went to great length to tell me the things i must be doing wrong, instead of preventing the problem.
What else, I stood in line for 20 minutes waiting to order a cup of coffee and left disgusted. Ah...then there was a fire in the galley....Room Service at breakfast only offers unheated items. Drinks in the bars were generally weak and $5 each. Try the Casino bar for the standatd shot and 1/2, otherwise the drinks are weak. It is a wonder that anyone could afford to get drunk, but there were many more drunks than I've noticed on other cruise lines.
The food at the buffet was usually better than the food in the dining room, but careful dodging the crowds. I saw one staff member hit a passenger in the head with a full pan of dirty dishes. While using the restroom I noted a couple of male employees who failed to wash their hands after urinating. YUK. One was a waiter.
The cabins are spacious, the ship is beautiful. As another person wrote its better to skip the casino as payouts seemed few and far between. Bingo jackpots were absurdly low. Most shows and events directed by the cruise staff started late.
Luggage was handled competently. Check in is arduous and slow compared to other cruise lines. Tips are automatically charged to your cabin account, so be sure to visit the purser to adjust them as you feel the need. I heard one passenger complain that she did not feel like paying $7 per day in tips to the cabin steward for "turning down the bed"
We gave our cabin steward $11 per day because she was EXCELLENT. If you want to have an experience similar to staying at a luxurious hotel with poorly trained employees and food then consider carnival. Otherwise there are MANY better ships and cruise lines out there.