July 2014 - Carnival Splendor to Caribbean - Eastern
This was my 3rd cruise, second time on Carnival. I've gone on a Royal Caribbean out of Florida (5 day trip: CoCo Cay, Nassau, Bahamas---$350 +taxes and port fees), I went on Carnival Splendor leaving out of New York in March 2014 ($350 +taxes and port fees) and then the same exact ship in July 2014 ($850+taxes and port fees).
Why the same boat twice? My fiance and I needed a desperate break away and Carnival was selling March tickets for $350, so we said why the hell not! At the same time, my family really wanted to go on a cruise, and at the time it was cheaper to book on Carnival then other ships. Plus Carnival seemed to have a good reputation.
After my March trip I really wanted to cancel my July trip, but it wasn't feasible. So we went, and while noticed they treat the summer cruisers to better things (not food, food remained the same), we did see better shows and better movies.Carnival does try to providea variety of food, but Royal does a far better job. Not only did Royal provide a huge variety of food, the quality seemed better. One thing I really hated on Carnival is their lack of good coffee. The coffee is bitter and tastes like a dirty water. I also missed Royal's 24 hour food options, which were significantly better than Carnival's pizza options. The only other thing that was a saving grace for Carnival was that their side of the private island, CoCo Cay, was absolutely amazing. Crystal clear calm waters that were shallow for dozens of feet. It was amazing and gorgeous and everything we wanted. But it's not enough to save them.
However, I will never cruise out of NY on a Carnival ship ever again. In fact, I don't think I'll ever cruise Carnival again. My experience with Royal was leagues better. The food was better, entertainment was better. The only thing is service is equal, I felt both ships have amazing workers.
Carnival, and especially the Splendor, has horribly ugly and tacky decorations. I felt like I was in some trippy giant copper penny for over a week. In addition, the lay out is incredibly poorly designed. They put a smoking open door casino in the middle of the ship, by the end of the week, you can smell cigarettes over large parts of the ship--DISGUSTING. And no matter what, every day I couldn't get a seat for my family on the outdoor decks, and the pools were constantly stuffed with tons of people---which made them look like germ pools. for such a large ship they should have hired a much smarter designer!
Save your money and spring for cruise out of Florida, on Royal Caribbean. I'm already sorry I wasted two vacations on Carnival! My next trip is going to be Royal Caribbean on one of their new, larger liners and in a balcony room!