Very good Spring Break
Carnival Breeze Cruise Review to Caribbean - Southern
My wife and family are experienced cruisers...25 or so in the last 13 years. Although we have used most of the big cruise lines, including Carnival, we usually opt to go with Royal Caribbean. However, with 8 of us cruising (including our three grandchildren 7 and under) during the peak of Spring Break, it was more affordable for us to go with Carnival. We really liked the itinerary of this particular 8 day cruise, as it included some ports we had not seen before.
All of our 5 previous cruises with Carnival had been good, but we had always found the service, food, and ship to be one step behind Royal Caribbean. We were surprised and impressed at how much better our overall experience was this time.
The Breeze is a newer ship, carrying around 3500 passengers. Carnival has done a nice job with their deck plan layouts, and public space amenities...specifically the nice assortment of casual dining options. During sea days, when we are spending most of the day by the pool, it's nice to have food venues other than just the buffet. Their poolside hamburger stand was absolutely outstanding...the best burgers and fries we have had on a cruise ship. They also offer a taco and burrito stand (including breakfast burritos) there. On Deck 5 they have barbecue stand that was very good as well. I would give them an A+ for their casual dining options and quality.
For the 8 of us, we had 2 balcony cabins, and one ocean suite. My wife and I had the suite, and it was a nice place for the family to congregate. It was very nice, with a pull out sofa, Jacuzzi tub, dual bathroom sinks, and a larger balcony. The balcony cabins were typically small, but adequate. The stateroom service for all of us (our rooms were not together, and we all had different stateroom staffs) was really great...again, I would give them an "A".
Our grandchildren loved the childrens program on the ship, and between that and the childrens pool area (which included 3 water slides and many other fun features) we were never at a loss for something to keep them occupied. Grade "A".
For the rest of us, we all enjoyed the cruise director's activities. He was truly one of the best we have experienced. Great sense of humor, and he did a great job of "setting the tone" for his entire staff. Grade "A".
Our dining room experience was probably the least impressive part of the cruise. I had assumed that a family of 8, including 3 children ages 2, 3, and 7, that we would have had a table to ourselves. Unfortunately, they seated us at a table for 10, with a nice couple that only spoke Spanish. It was extremely awkward for us, and I am sure it was for them as well. And, although our wait staff was very courteous and hard working, the food was average at best, and often served lukewarm. I appreciated the waiters bringing the kid's food out immediately, without being asked. However, the rest of the meal was always very slow, and was likely the reason our food wasn't as hot as it should have been. For our family, the Dining Room experience is always one of the most important parts of our cruise. Overall, on this cruise, it was a major disappointment. I would give it a grading of C-.
The embarking process was quick and easy...aided by the fact that we had a suite, and that gave us preferred boarding. The luggage handling was very strange. This ship uses the public elevators to handle their luggage delivery. On the first and last day, it was nearly impossible to use an elevator, or even to walk through the elevator vestibules, as they were packed with luggage carts. Very odd. I'm not sure if they have elevator banks just for their crew (as does every other ship we have been on) or maybe they weren't adequate. Our luggage did not arrive at our rooms until around 8pm the first night.
The disembarking process was an absolute nightmare. We elected to carry off our luggage (they call it "self assist"). We always have late morning flights, and this ensures we have plenty of time to get to the airport. Normally, passengers who do this can leave the ship immediately after it is cleared by the Port Authority. This ship, however, requires you to wait until your deck is called before you can carry your luggage off. In our case, we had to wait over 2 hours, sitting in the stairwells (none of the elevators were available) dragging our luggage, and trying to keep our little ones under control. There has got to be a better way of handling this process. I would rate it an "F".
Even with some obvious disappointments and/or opportunities, I would rate our overall cruise a B+. And in comparison to Royal Caribbean, in total they are very close...surprisingly close, and 10-15% cheaper.