Returning to Carnival after 3 years. What changes should we expect?

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#1
New York, NY
615 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Pretty much what the title says. Our last Carnival cruise was in 2014. We've sailed on Royal Caribbean and Princess since then and have very much enjoyed them. Now booked on the Horizon for August, after considering the Magic, but finally went for Horizon despite the higher cost. The temptation of a brand new ship and being able to sail out of our home port of NYC was too hard to resist!

So what changes, if any, should we expect? What's been going on in the last three years? Or is everything much the same?
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August 2017 - Royal Princess (Greece)
August 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas (Italy)
August 2014 - Carnival Breeze (Eastern Caribbean)
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April 2013 - Carnival Freedom (Southern Caribbean)
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#2
USA
8,512 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
No more production shows replaced by something called playlist productions which is very inferior to what they used to do.

Some better food venues such as guys burgers.

We are Diamond on Carnival and went to Princess to see the world and now think Princess is a better product.
#3
New York, NY
615 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Thanks! We really enjoyed Princess as well last year in Greece. To be honest, we were looking at Princess again this year, but were attracted by Carnival offering a new ship and not needing to fly to the point of embarkation (too much flying for work already this year). We don't really attend shows on board, but I'm happy you think the food has improved with more choices.
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August 2017 - Royal Princess (Greece)
August 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas (Italy)
August 2014 - Carnival Breeze (Eastern Caribbean)
May 2014 - RCL Vision of the Seas (Cozumel) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2061687
April 2013 - Carnival Freedom (Southern Caribbean)
August 2012 - Carnival Breeze (Western Mediterranean) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1705453
April 2012 - Carnival Valor (Eastern Caribbean) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1631287
August 2011 - HAL Westerdam (Alaska)
#4
USA
8,512 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by Baby_Bear
Thanks! We really enjoyed Princess as well last year in Greece. To be honest, we were looking at Princess again this year, but were attracted by Carnival offering a new ship and not needing to fly to the point of embarkation (too much flying for work already this year). We don't really attend shows on board, but I'm happy you think the food has improved with more choices.
All lines have their good and bad. We just seem to outgrow Carnival and want to see the world. As a matter of fact our next one is the Med on Princess.

Enjoy your cruise.
#5
DC
11 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
Bumping this thread. Would love to know more.
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#6
Charlotte, NC
11,017 Posts
Joined Nov 2004
Maybe not unique to Carnival, but the largest trend I have seen in recent years is to offer more and more services as extra cost options. This allows for base fares to remain low, but means more of what you got in past years for your base fare is no longer included.

Small examples:
  • Sushi in the evenings. This used to be a free service, now you have to pay for it.
  • Boarding the ship or tender. Used to be you could arrive early to get on early. Now you have to pay for it.
Alcohol, gambling, excursions, and specialty dining all contribute to the true cost of the cruise. There are still plenty of included services, and the MDR food is still reportedly good, but you may notice a bit less attention from the cabin steward compared to earlier years, simply because the steward is busier with more work to do.


Some of the airlines have a similar model - let people fly for less money but charge for bags, food, drinks, assigned seats, and anything else you can think of. Great if you just want to get somewhere cheap and don't care about taking your stuff or being comfortable. Not so good for many others.
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#7
phila, pa
52,265 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
I agree that Princess is more upscale. and to compare the Horizon to Princess it will be a whole new cruise

With the newer ships they took out the free areas to make the paid areas bigger.
The show lounge is a lot smaller and the chairs (I Hate the seating in the show lounge) the site lines are poor. The comedy club is the same way and does not hold nearly as many people as the other carnival ships.

Look at the Havana area so you can use the adult only pool (only havana bookings can use that pool until 7pm at night and no kids so having a chair is good.


Anytime dining-- you check in on deck 5 and they will tell you what time to show up - if you go after 7:15 expect a large line.
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#8
New York, NY
615 Posts
Joined Jan 2010
Some really interesting points. I guess it was inevitable that cruising might start to go the way of flying, where many services even on full service airlines are now unbundled and pax can pick what they like/need on an a la carte basis. For us, we like the option of having more choices particularly in food, so it's nice to see new restaurants. I could definitely see us signing up for dinners at the Teppenyaki and Jiji on nights where we don't like what's on the dining room menu. Actually, that raises a question: does Carnival have the option of seeing the menus for the week (maybe when you board) so you can make other restaurant bookings for certain nights in advance?
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August 2017 - Royal Princess (Greece)
August 2015 - Rhapsody of the Seas (Italy)
August 2014 - Carnival Breeze (Eastern Caribbean)
May 2014 - RCL Vision of the Seas (Cozumel) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2061687
April 2013 - Carnival Freedom (Southern Caribbean)
August 2012 - Carnival Breeze (Western Mediterranean) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1705453
April 2012 - Carnival Valor (Eastern Caribbean) http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1631287
August 2011 - HAL Westerdam (Alaska)
#9
Charlotte, NC
541 Posts
Joined Mar 2011
There have been a few changes.

You can no longer carry water bottles on board - but you can pre-order them online and they will be in your stateroom when you arrive.

There are items on the room service menu now that have to pay for. After 10:00 p.m. now there is a new menu and you have to pay for all of those items. (Food waste issues.)

You are now presented with a card when you get to your stateroom asking if you want morning or evening service, you can select both. You also have to request bathrobes now. (I think on same form).

Your mini bar is no longer filled with stuff. You will find it empty.

Ice bucket may not be automatically filled, but if you ask your stateroom steward to keep it full, they will.

The deli has changed their menu. It appears that they are pre-made and there are differing reports about ability to custom order, etc. I have a feeling that varies ship to ship. Reports vary as to quality. The change is very recent though which may be the reason for the varying reports.

The Cheers package now includes unlimited non-alcoholic drinks - of any variety, coffees, sodas, smoothies, water, energy drinks, teas, etc. Still limited to 15 alcoholic drinks a day.

The only varieties of hot tea available now are green tea and the regular tea. Any fancier flavors have to be purchased.

There is a new breakfast menu in the MDR including an 'express breakfast' on port days for those needing to eat in a hurry.

The SeaDay Brunch is no longer the Punchliner Sea Day Brunch, but it is pretty much the same menu.

Guys Burgers and the Iguana Cantina can be found on most ships now along with a few other new venues. Check your ship, a lot of the eateries have changed. Personally, I have found the new venues to be of higher quality and enjoy them.

There is a new MDR menu and most of the ships have a new table setting. You only have tablecloths on Elegant Nights. No lobster on Elegant nights for cruises 5 days or less. Lobster only served at the first Elegant night on longer cruises.

Those are the biggies that I can think of. I'm sure there are others that can think of other things.
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#10
Chicagoland
1,116 Posts
Joined Jan 2008
Originally posted by Qchell
There have been a few changes.

You can no longer carry water bottles on board - but you can pre-order them online and they will be in your stateroom when you arrive.

There are items on the room service menu now that have to pay for. After 10:00 p.m. now there is a new menu and you have to pay for all of those items. (Food waste issues.)

You are now presented with a card when you get to your stateroom asking if you want morning or evening service, you can select both. You also have to request bathrobes now. (I think on same form).

Your mini bar is no longer filled with stuff. You will find it empty.

Ice bucket may not be automatically filled, but if you ask your stateroom steward to keep it full, they will.

The deli has changed their menu. It appears that they are pre-made and there are differing reports about ability to custom order, etc. I have a feeling that varies ship to ship. Reports vary as to quality. The change is very recent though which may be the reason for the varying reports.

The Cheers package now includes unlimited non-alcoholic drinks - of any variety, coffees, sodas, smoothies, water, energy drinks, teas, etc. Still limited to 15 alcoholic drinks a day.

The only varieties of hot tea available now are green tea and the regular tea. Any fancier flavors have to be purchased.

There is a new breakfast menu in the MDR including an 'express breakfast' on port days for those needing to eat in a hurry.

The SeaDay Brunch is no longer the Punchliner Sea Day Brunch, but it is pretty much the same menu.

Guys Burgers and the Iguana Cantina can be found on most ships now along with a few other new venues. Check your ship, a lot of the eateries have changed. Personally, I have found the new venues to be of higher quality and enjoy them.

There is a new MDR menu and most of the ships have a new table setting. You only have tablecloths on Elegant Nights. No lobster on Elegant nights for cruises 5 days or less. Lobster only served at the first Elegant night on longer cruises.

Those are the biggies that I can think of. I'm sure there are others that can think of other things.
Nice list!
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#11
Richardson, TX
71,358 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
state room service is only once a day now, not twice a day, but ok by me, i dont get a cabin that dirty.

I loved the new BBQ that was up a deck from lido, missed it until half way thru on the freedom. Its worth looking for, all the stuff was really good. Its where they used to have fish n chips.

Now fish is a pay option on my last cruise.

I love guys burgers, though not really new, ive seen them now for a few years, so you might or might not have had them 3 years ago, but they have been around a while.

Mongolian is still good too if your ship has it. Guys and mongolian (line too slow usually) and the new bbq only open at lunch are great to me.

A lot of the crew was up at the BBQ so you know it was extra good, meats and sides both.

The Indian food on Magic also is one of my favorites.

My only complaint was unusually cold last cruise, hit it wrong.

Im happy with Carnival.
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#12
San Diego County
3,262 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by firefly333
state room service is only once a day now, not twice a day, but ok by me, i dont get a cabin that dirty.
I'm one of your long time followers and we both know you can still receive twice a day cabin service upon request.
#13
Richardson, TX
71,358 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by sanmarcosman
I'm one of your long time followers and we both know you can still receive twice a day cabin service upon request.
OK, lol, you got me, but by request, and my cabin steward after telling me he was only servicing my cabin once a day did come by more than once.

But I was fine when he told me the new policy is once a day to service my cabin. I didnt care.
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#14
OH
525 Posts
Joined May 2017
The first time I went on Carnival, I enjoyed most of the food, minus the lunch buffet. I wanted a burger, and buffet burgers are not good. It was very disappointing The next time, I had Guy's. So much better. Guy's and Blue Iguana are amazing.
#15
Southern NJ near Philly
7,531 Posts
Joined Nov 2010
Originally posted by firefly333
state room service is only once a day now, not twice a day, but ok by me, i dont get a cabin that dirty.

I loved the new BBQ that was up a deck from lido, missed it until half way thru on the freedom. Its worth looking for, all the stuff was really good. Its where they used to have fish n chips.

Now fish is a pay option on my last cruise.

I love guys burgers, though not really new, ive seen them now for a few years, so you might or might not have had them 3 years ago, but they have been around a while.

Mongolian is still good too if your ship has it. Guys and mongolian (line too slow usually) and the new bbq only open at lunch are great to me.

A lot of the crew was up at the BBQ so you know it was extra good, meats and sides both.

The Indian food on Magic also is one of my favorites.

My only complaint was unusually cold last cruise, hit it wrong.

Im happy with Carnival.
The OP is going to be on the Horizon, so the Mongolian Work would be located at Jiji's Asian Kitchen at lunchtime. The BBQ place would be the newly expanded Pig and Anchor BBQ Smokehouse/Brewhouse which has replaced the Red Frog Pub on the Horizon. The lunch offerings are free and dinner has an expanded a la carte pay for option.
Finally...if the OP wishes to go to the new Bonzai Teppanyaki, there are only 16 seats at 530, 715 & 900 each evening. Reserve ahead of time, otherwise you could be shut out.
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#16
USA
8,512 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by firefly333
OK, lol, you got me, but by request, and my cabin steward after telling me he was only servicing my cabin once a day did come by more than once.

But I was fine when he told me the new policy is once a day to service my cabin. I didnt care.
Policy for now is twice a day upon request but they have increased workload of room stewards so stewards are trying to get people to agree to 1x service.
#17
cleburne,texas u.s.a.
2,217 Posts
Joined Jun 2004
Embarkation is quicker and less crowded with newer rules implemented. You choose a check-in time when you purchase your cruise. And you can’t enter the cruise terminal where you check-in until it’s your assigned time. Of course Diamond, platinum, suite guests, etc can enter any time because they have priority boarding. Some love it some hate it, I’m a fan of it. Another thing that speeds it up, they don’t take everyone’s pictures and print out S&S cards during embarkation. Your S&S card (which now uses your passport photo) will be waiting in the mailbox outside your cabin for you in a sealed envelope. If the seal is broken or it’s missing guest services will fix it ASAP.

There a new Carnival app called HUB that’s a must have. It’s free and has an interactive ships map, daily activities listed (fun times), you can view and purchase photos, buy cheers or bottomless bubbles, purchase internet packages, purchase messaging capabilities for $5 for the week (per device), see what restaurants are open, and view and purchase shore excursions. It really is the best improvement they’ve made in years.
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#18
San Diego County
3,262 Posts
Joined Feb 2008
Originally posted by Micah's Grandad
Policy for now is twice a day upon request but they have increased workload of room stewards so stewards are trying to get people to agree to 1x service.
Stu, you know that's firefly right? They've already been busted, no need to pour salt on too
#19
Richardson, TX
71,358 Posts
Joined Dec 2006
Originally posted by sanmarcosman
Stu, you know that's firefly right? They've already been busted, no need to pour salt on too
well still seems like a change to me. I always had 2 x a day and now its available upon request, i.e. not standard, or the steward tried to talk me to 1 x, whichever, seemed like a change from times of old to me.

3 years ago no steward ever told me he would be doing my cabin only once a day, which time would i prefer early or late.

and someone says thats not a change because you can still get it ... "upon request".

you all can keep blue ignuanna, dont like it.
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#20
USA
8,512 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Originally posted by sanmarcosman
Stu, you know that's firefly right? They've already been busted, no need to pour salt on too
But heres the thing. I do believe that down the road a bit we will be told that the vast majority of cruisers are ok with 1x service so that will be the new standard. Carnival is being disengenuous with us and will call them out whenever the opportunity avails itself.