Our cruise was simply fanstastic. We never had a better one. Everything went smoothly from the time we started our embarkation. We found the Carnival staff to be so friendly and helpful. My mother needs wheelchair assistance and from the time we were spotted waiting to embark in the terminal an employee kept a watchful eye on our entire party. We were eight adults ( all family). The staff member finally convinced my mom and dad to board early ( an offer they initially declined) and await our arrival on the Lido Deck. We were not far behind. Our cabins were located on the Upper Deck and although our views were a tad more obstructed than we had been told, they were fine; very spacious with plenty of storage.
The first obstacle we encountered was the muster drill. This is the first time we've had to go through that with my mother in a wheel chair. Someone here was kind enough to suggest we take her down to the muster station in advance while the elevators were still working. We did and things could not have gone smoother. One of the crew members asked my parents to wait by the door. When we were dismissed, my parents were nowhere in sight. We were very anxious until we got back to our cabins and found them safely and comfortably back in theirs. My dad explained that toward the end of the drill, a crew member graciously dismissed them and suggested they beat the crowd to the elevators which they did!
We ate breakast and lunch in the Horatio resturant. We all thought there was a great selection daily. Everyone loved the grilled hamburgers and hot dogs served out by the pool as well. Dinner was always a delight. We had never experienced such a party atmosphere with all the nightly dancing around the tables but we got a real kick out of it. The food was fabulous. Carnival may have deserved a bad rap on food in the past. We have no way of knowing but IMO it's as good as any other line we've been on and better than RCCL. Our waiter, Devar, was simply wonderful. The pronunciation was difficult and he told us to feel free to call him Mr. D. which we did for the entire cruise.He anticipated our every need. My b-i-l and brother frequently ordered two entrees but if anyone seemed to even momentarily consider more than one, he would bring the one ordered and the runner up would be placed on the table as well. He ran to assist my mother out of her wheelchair every night and was quick to escort her back to it after our meal. We have never had a more attentive waiter or assistant waiter. Kudos to Mr. D. and Douglas and may you all by lucky enough to be seated at one of their tables should you cruise on the Miracle.
I won't go into port choices as we all did seperate things and some stayed on ship while others took excursions but again, nothing but good experiences were had by all.
We were very concerned about the policy of taking tips out when you check in for boarding. We reasoned that service would suffer if those who worked for tips felt they were more or less guaranteed. We couldn't have been more wrong or more pleasantly surprised. What motivates these great people is the rating they receive from each passenger. We became aware of this the first night from our waiter who explained the rating system and how his objective was to be rated excellent in all categories involving his service. We found this attitude throughout the cruise from every crew member we encountered and we were so happy that in most instances we were able to give an excellent rating. Also, although we did not discuss it amongst ourselves, every member of our group tipped our waiter and assistant waiter extra for the special service and attention we received. A lovely touch on the final night was an autographed place mate from each of them. Never had anything like that before!
The one area which we felt Carnival was not quite up to standard with other lines was that of entertainment. They are lacking in the big broadway type productions we've become accustomed to although we all throughly enjoyed the Beatles show. There were a couple of good comedians but overall, the entertainment was rather dismal. One night they only had one show which was impossible for us to even get seats since we had second seating and the show was at 10p, although we did try. We later viewed it in our rooms on TV and it was dreadful. Four passengers sang songs ala American Idol and that was followed by 30 minutes of nonesense by the Cruise Director engaging a few more passengers in performing fairytale. Btw, the Cruise Director was an embarrassment. Very unprofessional. He constantly laughed in a very nervous manner and was extemely tedious to listen to. We later learned the regular Cruise Director was ill. This guy was someone who does nothing but fill in but still, there are too many talented people out there for Carnival not to have a more professional back up.
Also, none of us cared for the Carnival decor and most especially the "Pepto Bismal" dining room. What was the guy who designed that thinking???!!! We all prefer the "brass and glass" look but hey, if the worst thing you can say about your cruise was you didn't care for the interior decorating, you might as well keep your mouth shut. LOL!
Thanks again to all of you who answered my questions and gave me such could suggestions and encouragement. We're thinking of booking the Carnival Glory now!