Old parent. Took a cruise as a family vacation we all could enjoy. Booked our next one as soon as we got back.
Cruise Lines: Carnival Cruise Lines
Cruiseline: Carnival Cruise Lines
This was my family's 3rd cruise and if it had been our first it would have been our last. I'm not a "hater" and I realize not everything is going to be perfect nor will I let a few hiccups ruin the good times so I will try to be honest and not let my disappointment cloud the facts. First, where I'm coming from: we're a older couple (late 40's) from SoCal with an 8 year old son who discovered cruising as our perfect vacation (my first 2 reviews were 5 stars) about 2 years ago. My review is based on a comparison with two smaller ships (Imagination and Miracle) that we took out of Long Beach. I came up with the bright idea of going somewhere different on a newer and bigger ship. First, getting to the pier is a nightmare. It's a small road handling traffic for two cruise liners (RCCL Liberty of the Seas left within an hour of us). We had FTTF but even without, embarkation seemed really smooth and fast. Onboard they had access to rooms locked until 2:30 and the last of our luggage didn't arrive until 9pm (so much for FTTF). We ate Guys burgers for the first time and were impressed. For dinner we ate at the Cucina del Capitano and were very disappointed. I've seen a lot a high praise for this restaurant but none of us saw the allure. Food at MDR was better. I was walking around by 6:30 in morning and over half the deck chairs were reserved though no one in sight. By 8am they were all gone (still no one sitting in them). It was also like that at night for the dive-in movies (all reserved only half full). It seemed like the entire cruise was standing room only. Several elevators (including 2 out of 4 midships) were out of service. The Thrill theater would only be open for two hours at a time and with only 20 seats (4 were broken) it could only serve 80 people (yes we waited in a 1 1/2 hour line to get in). If you go to the comedian show at 6:45 you should get in for the 7:30 show. After that, good luck. We saw people standing in line at 7:30 and still didn't get in to the 9:30 show. Motor city and 88 Key shows in main showroom were pretty good and 1/2 hour preshow with piano bar player was entertaining as well. Food was decent. Guys and Blue iguana (especially breakfast) were great. MDR and seaday brunch was good (some hits and misses). Buffets and pizza were okay but lines made them not worth the wait. Cucina del Capitano, Fat Jimmys C-side BBQ, and Bonsai Sushi were huge disappointments. We were unable to get Steakhouse reservations (so much for FTTF again). Ports were okay (see comments). Getting off ship went well (FTTF). Get a porter for your bags as they seem to get preferred treatment when going through customs. Our airport transfer bus malfunctioned and the heater was stuck on 94 degrees the whole trip back. The driver pulled over and called but the bus company said just continue to the airport. Perfect ending to a rotten cruise.
We had such a wonderful time that we already booked our next cruise onboard. Our cruise was perfect but I'll try to be helpful to others. The ship constantly shook while underway. While this was a non-issue for us, it may bother others. Had FTTF so embark and debark were easy but it looked like a nightmare for others. Had two ship excursions (Dolphin Swim and Las Caletas) and one off ship (Mazatlan ATV). Next cruise is 9 months out but FTTF is sold out already and embark, debark and tenders are so bad the wife is thinking about cancelling.
I wanted to take a trial cruise with the family to see if we like it. We're older (50,46) parents of a 6 year old and we're looking for a vacation we all can enjoy and this was it. Read a lot of reviews and Carnival is considered "low end" but at less than half the price of competitors I had to try them. Cabin was clean, comfortable, and bigger than we expected on a ship. Yeah, it was the size of a small motel room but not cramped. The room attendant straightened up twice a day, always left a towel animal at night, and greeted us by name whenever he saw us. We had FTTF and wow, I'll get it for every cruise. Arrived at 12:30, bypassed a 2 hour line and dropped our carryon luggage off in our ready room at 12:50. Food was good. Buffets were decent buffet food (big deal) but dining room fare (including seaday brunch) was very good. The kid loved Camp Ocean, a little too much for my wife, who wanted him to spend time with us, but I was happy to spend some guilt free time doing whatever I wanted and knowing he was having just as good a time as I was. We enjoyed the comedians, lounge singers, and musical productions. The ports were Catalina and Ensenada. I'm from Socal and have been to both. Catalina is too small a village to have 2000 people visit it at once and Ensenada is just over the hill from Tijuana so it's basically Southwestern Tijuana. The trip was about cruising for us. We enjoyed the ship, the crew and the food. Debarkation with FTTF was a breeze also. We meet in the lounge at 8:30 and a crew member escorted us, halting the line of everyone else, off the ship to a private baggage claim area. I can only assume that everyone else was still waiting for their luggage as we pick ours up, walked to the parking lot and left with no line or traffic whatsoever. I only gave it 4 stars to be honest. I'm sure you can pay more (significantly) for improvements but this had everything we were looking for. Booked our next cruise 3 days after we got back. This time for 7 days but still on Carnival.
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