by John Caruso
November 30, 2002
Some background. This is our 3rd cruise. (Majesty of the Seas and Horizon). My wife and I are in our (ahem) mid-30's and our 2 boys are 9 and 10.
SHIP- What can I say? The ship was nice and clean. Cabins were nice size. We had room for everything. Lets get this out of the way. Yes there were stains in the rugs along the cabin corridors. SO WHAT!
Ok, back to the review. There we many kids. I heard 700 quoted at one time. If you are looking for a fine dining/cruising experience, try Celebrity. This was Disney World. Not that I minded, our kids contributed to the atmosphere as well, but we decided that we would not take Carnival again if we went without kids. The crowd themselves were not rowdy college kids. Go to Space Mountain at Disney and take all the people waiting on line and put them on this ship. That was who made up crowd. Young, Old, Black, White, Hispanic, even Blind. (there were about 20-30 blind folks with seeing-eye dogs on board). Everyone was friendly and happy to have a good time.
Dining room - 2 formal nights . I rented a tux I got measured and called Carnival before I left to put the order in. It was $80. It made formal night easy. Every other night was casual. There is no "informal" night. On casual nights, anything goes including jeans. No shorts or tank tops. On the 1st night, people didn't get their luggage so shorts were allowed. In cozumel, we were in port until midnight and so shorts were allowed in the dining room then too. And on the last night shorts were allowed. So 2 formal nights, 3 "shorts" night and the rest were business causal. Dockers and a polo shirt. No Blazers needed. Leave them home. The food itself was good. Standard cruise fare. Many Wines from the wine list under $25. You can get a bottle of wine and if you don't finish it that night, they will continue bringing out the unfinished bottle all week.
Buffets - Breakfast is breakfast. Eggs, pancakes, etc. All good.. Go to the dining room if you don't want to wait on line. Lunch was not very good. A lot of the same unappetizing salads and boring lunch meats. The main courses was no better than your local Sizzler buffet. The "alternate dining" option for dinner was more of the same. Go to the dining room.
In addition to the buffet lines were 4 other
places to get food. This is where we got most of
our food from. At each you still waited on line to
get your food and carry it to an available table.
Breads/rolls were excellent. The pastries were a disappointment.
Soda Cards - Unless you can just not go without soda, it is NOT needed. There was PLENTY of coffee, fruit punch, iced tea, lemonade and apple juice avail 24hrs. If you really must have soda, then I guess get a card. Our kids were fine with what was available.
DECK CHAIRS/POOLS - Plenty of deck chairs. Maybe not right by the stage but if you walked up on some of the other decks, there were chairs in the sun to be had. To clear up some confusion about towels. Yes, Carnival provided "Carnival" towels in the room for use at the pool and going onshore. If you lose those towels it would cost you $22. You do not need THOSE towels at the pool. There were an abundance of towels you can use right at the pool. That being said, many of the chairs were "reserved" with poolside provided towels. We only used the "Carnival" towels going ashore. There were 3 pools. Mostly filled with kids (mine!). Same as whirlpools. All kids. There were supposed to be "adult-only" whirlpools but I didn't see and whirlpools that DIDN'T have kids. On the last day I found 2 whirlpools in the GYM with no one in them. That can be a nice sanctuary.
FRS RADIOS. We had them. We kept it on channel 13 and did not hear any cross-chatter. I would recommend them.
LAUNDRY - yes they do have laundry facilities. There is 1 Laundromat on each deck. Broken machines in each Laundromat made the availability scarce. Don't count on doing laundry because you may waste large portions of the day finding machines available or that work. Maybe late at night you can do laundry but aren't you on vacation?
CASINO - Mostly $5 and $10 tables. Very Friendly dealers. Great way to learn table games as the dealers will teach you as you play (and they take your money as well!) We came out $75 ahead in the casino. We spent about $60 on bingo though.
SPA - The wife went to the Spa and said she had the best facial ever.
CAMP CARNIVAL - There is no camp the 1st day and the kids were bored. Once they got started though, the camp had enough activities to keep even my short-attention span kids entertained. Camp is from 9am-12pm, 2pm-5pm and 7pm-10pm. The breaks are for lunch and dinner. We had a late seating for dinner. We like that because we don't want to be rushed to dinner when we are still on the islands. The downside was that many of the camp stuff was scheduled assuming the kids had early seating. So if you don't want your kids to miss some of the planned activities, get an early seating. We will do that next time we bring the kids. By the way, just to set some expectation, the camp has playstation and Nintendo 64. That was free. The Arcade downstairs in the main part of the ship is not. It is a Pay-as-you-go arcade. Our kids were disappointed when they found out they could not play arcade games anytime they wanted. Kid-related - Try and buy a lanyard before you leave for the cruise( a strap that goes around your neck for id and stuff.). That way you can have you kid's sign and sail card punched with a hole. Then you can have you kids wear their sign and sail cards around their necks. You can also attach FRS radios and sodas cards to the strap as well. Yes, you can get a free bungee cord thingy from the casino if you want, but I think a Lanyard is better.