Carnival Shined

I admit seeing the Costa Concordia, owned by Carnival, listing on its side made me pause.  However, after that I travel twice with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and planned a 7-day cruise for a Family Reunion in Summer 2013.  Then in February I see the Carnival Triumph, a ship I once did a 7-day cruise on, disabled in the Gulf of Mexico.  How could they experience two major issues in a year’s time?

I saw an opportunity in their tragedy.  I felt, ‘there must be some deals’.  I also figured they would treat their customers like gold.  I was right on both accounts!

We sailed on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Port Canaveral for Nassau and Freeport Bahamas on a 4-day itinerary.  Carnival goes out of its way to earn their ‘funship’ nickname.  Even though the temperatures were in the 40s on the morning of March 7th and only warming into the 60s, the Lido Deck (where the pool is located) was hopping when we arrived.  Of course, in true cruise fashion, the buffets were in full swing too.

It had been a number of years since I last chose to sail with Carnival.  I’ve become very loyal to Royal and love knowing what to expect…even when it means I may see the same production show or shows over and over again when sailing the same 3-day itineraries out of Miami and Port Canaveral.  I had forgotten how much I always enjoyed Carnival’s production shows.  The quality of their shows supersedes those of Royal, Celebrity and Norwegian in like itineraries.  The costumes and the quality of their singers and dancers is superb.

I’ve enjoyed many cruise directors and entertainment staff, namely Royal Caribbean’s Simon and Erky from Turkey.  However, the Ecstasy’s Matt was so much fun!  He was a bundle of energy and so easy to relate to.  From line dances to the marriage game, he was there being hilarious.

This ship’s maiden voyage was in 1991.  In fact, I was at Kathrine Gibbs School learning ‘Travel and Conference Planning’ while this ship was being built.  One of the reports I wrote was on the Carnival Ecstasy.  Over 20 years later, I’m happy to report she is still a beautiful ship.  Sure there is evidence of facelifts along the way, but they were very well done facelifts which enhance her beauty.  My favorite part, besides the spacious cabin was the Lido pool deck area.  The palm trees give it such a festival and tropical feel.

Overall, I do not like buffets.  I don’t like waiting in buffet lines and I don’t like the idea of people serving themselves and potentially touching my food with their hands or hair or…  I make it a point to eat in the dining room for breakfast and dinner.  The choices at breakfast weren’t that exciting, but the food, with the exception of the pancakes which seemed to be heated up frozen pancakes, was good.  The dinner options each night were exciting.  My favorite part…lobster!  That crustacean is extra on Royal Caribbean.  The portions were large and the quality of most dishes were outstanding.  The only thing I found tacky was the actual menu.  I thought the presentation in a cheap, worn clear plastic sheet holder diminished the overall quality of the experience.  The service in the dining room was also painfully slow on most of my seatings.

I had yet to begin to write this review of this weekend’s trip when on the news was the Carnival Dream experiencing engine trouble in St. Maarten.  I hope Carnival re-evaluates its maintenance schedule.  Thus far, with the exception of the Captain that caused the crash of the Costa Concordia, they have been saved by their outstanding crew.  They are friendly and helpful.  Their crew helps them shine!

Tell me what you think!