Each year I buy my family (wife, three boys ages 27, 22 and 18, and 27 year old's fiance') a cruise for Christmas. This was our sixth year. I used to get three suites, but over the years I found that there is really no additional value to the suites as we get FTTF for all three cabins. The balcony rooms are more than sufficient.
We sailed out of Port Canaveral and with FTTF embarkation was really easy. We arrived at the port around 10:45 and parked on the second floor of the parking garage. We then grabbed our luggage which was all on rollers. Apparently, you're supposed to go down to the first floor of the garage to drop your luggage off which we did not do. We carried our luggage with us over the connector to the port and by the time we realized that we were supposed to drop our luggage off, we were on the boat. The only issue was carrying heavy suitcases up to the 7th floor, but that wasn't too bad and we didn't have to wait for it to be delivered to the room, which was nice. Our rooms were ready when we got on the boat and we were able to start our vacation immediately. I think that we had our first drinks and Guy's Burgers before noon.
We always get the Cheers Program and find that it is well worth it for us. I think that we would probably drink a lot less if they did not put the 15 drink maximum on it. As it is, we find it a challenge to ensure that we don't leave anything on the table at the end of the night.
This year we got three balcony rooms on deck 7. Mine was room 7434. It is all the way to the aft of the ship near the corner. Because of the configuration, that room had a larger than usual balcony which was nice. All of the balcony rooms were plenty big. Being all the way to the back of the ship was quite a haul from everything. Although we enjoyed the exercise, its not something that I'll do again. I've already booked our 2019 cruise on the Sunshine and have booked three spa balcony rooms on deck 12. Any input on that would be appreciated. I digress.
The thing that stuck out most on this cruise was the food. I was absolutely blown away by the quality in the main dining room. Every meal was absolutely delicious and of US restaurant quality. We ate in the steakhouse on New Years eve. It was wonderful, but as good as the food was in the MDR, I'm not sure that it was worth the extra money. Also, the service at the Steakhouse wasn't nearly as good as in the MDR.
This was our second NYE on a carnival cruise. It was great having my whole family together to bring in the New Year. They had a band above the Lido deck and passed out champagne and party favors. At midnight, the horns blew and everybody had a really good time.
As I am required to have access to internet for my business, I purchased the most expensive internet package. Huge waste of money. I never really was able to get on to the net and even checking emails was a challenge. Would recommend against that.
Our ports were Nassau and Freeport. We've had these same ports on a majority of our cruises and we always find something fun to do despite the limitations. In Nassau, we always walk down to Junkanoo Beach and rent some chairs. I have gotten to know the owner of one of the food/drink huts on the beach and he always works out a deal where he prepares a large sampler food platter and all the drinks we can drink for a moderately reasonable price.
In Freeport this year, I found an older gentleman who had an old Cadillac that he used for his cab. We got him to give us a tour of the island. We rode around for several hours stopping periodically for food/beverages/bathroom. Really nice guy and it was alot of fun.
The service on the ship was spectacular in all facets. From the room stewards, to the bartenders to the waiters at the MDR, everyone went out of their way to make our vacation the best that it could possibly be. Can't say enough about that.
All in all, I would say that the food and service were the best we've had on a Carnival ship. In the past there have been times within a day or two of getting on the boat where I couldn't wait to get off because I couldn't eat another bite of their food. Much like a Golden Corral. That was not the case this year. The food was spectacular.
I'll be glad to answer any questions that anyone may have.