Here is my personal review of the cruise I just took on the Carnival Breeze. For some background, we are a family of 4 with 2 kids aged 8 and 11. It is our first cruise with Carnival and our 4th total (2 with NCL and 1 with RCCL). I will try to give you my honest review and compare it to NCL and RCCL but for anyone that do not want to go through all my details the cruise was enjoyable and we really liked our time on board.
1- Getting to MCO airport. We flew from Montreal the day before (on the 28th) with approx. 1h30 delay at Montreal airport waiting for the plane to arrive. We arrived at MCO at approximately 9PM. Called the Fairfield Inn for the shuttle, waited 30min and the driver did not show up. Took a taxi instead. The staff at Fairfield inn was great and refunded the taxi drive. FYI I got the hotel at an amazing rate of 83 USD for the night. Room was spacious, clean and comfortable. Breakfast included in the next morning and classic included breakfast.
2- Getting to Port Canaveral. Took a UBER XL to get to Port Canaveral. I reserved the ride while waiting at the airport the day before. Driver showed up on-time and took approximately 45 min to get to the port. We arrived at the port at 10h30AM, gave our luggages to the porter and was in the waiting room by 10h45. FYI we received FTTF free from our travel agents. For the people asking about the added security for CORONAVIRUS, a paper had to be filled about the health which added a question about visiting China but nothing more was seen. (temperature control or anything else). We brought in 2 bottles of wine and no questions asked. We were called to board at 11h10. Flow for embarkation was amazing and the best experience in our 4 cruises.
3- Boarding. As we had FTTF, our room was ready as soon as we boarded. With each a backpack and 2 carry on, this is something we really liked. Dropped everything in our room, met Jose our steward who asked us about morning, night or both options for cleaning. We took morning only. First impressions on the room compared to our previous cruise: Carnival offers more closet and shelf space. Also, having the closet on the side by the entrance instead of being on the back wall of the bathroom help I believe with the flow in the room. Balcony was nice and a little more spacious than NCL. I still prefer the sliding door of NCL and RCCL though. Bedding was the most comfortable of all cruises. Cleaning in the room was OK. In the closet you could see dust on shelves and the vent in the room for the air conditioning needed cleaning too as there was dust hanging from it. Bar was not keeping water cool enough so we asked for a bucket of ice everyday. Overall Room was very nice and because of the bed comfort, I would put Carnival first in front of RCCL and NCL. We also ate at PIG Anchor BBQ which was delicious.
4- Saturday Departure. Muster drill was very quick (quickest we have seen and done in 15 min). On the first night, we went to the dining room. Service and food in the Dining room was amazing. We took Your Time Dining and through the app you can reserve a table. We got a table always under 5min after request. Temperature was fairly cold so we hung out with the kids playing board games and exploring the ship on the first night and went to sleep early.
5- Sunday Fun day at Sea. We really like the animation on the LIDO deck even though the music can be sometimes loud. As this first day was also cold, we hung out outside but did not use the pool/waterworks. Tried the buffet and Guys Burger which we all liked. We felt like the flow of the ship on the BREEZE is strange. For example, we were located mid ship. We take the elevator which were the mid ship one to get to the main dining room at the 3rd level and we get in front of closed doors. We need to get to the 4th level, get to the lobby, get down one level and then get to the dining room. This happened more than once on our cruise. Also, it seems that the flow is done on one side of the ship instead of in the middle and venues on the side like on NCL or RCCL. We did not like this and we wonder is the Vista class is the same. Went to the Motor City show. OMG did we step down in terms of entertainment vs NCL and RCCL. The main male singer was ok, the main female singer was yelling all the time, the secondary male singer was really bad and the secondary female signer was really good and should have been main singer. This was a big let down for us but the kids liked the show as there was dancing at the same time. FYI the Ovation Theater was never full and we could find really good spots even 5 min before each show.
6- Monday Amber Cove. Was raining all day. We switched our excursion from beach to Monkeyland. What I really like from Carnival is that they cancelled every beach excursion and refunded everyone and all others who wanted to cancel (such as us) could be credited on their account. We still did the excursion. The interaction with the monkeys was amazing. The part of the Dominican flavors where we could taste coconut, coffee, mamajuana etc... not so great but the explanations by the tour guide on the history etc... were very interesting. Came back to the ship around 1PM and still pouring rain. Also, I do not know if it changed since our last cruises with NCL and RCCL but they were offering free cheap ponchos. On Carnival we had to buy the 5$ but they are better quality and honestly they were great to have with the monkeys who were all wet. Went to the dining room that night and same great service and good food. On that night we also did the Country Road show. Sea was really bad and the group sang but did not do any choreography which was best for them. As it did not entertain the kids, and still bad voices we did not stay until the end.
7- Tuesday St-Thomas. This was our second stop in St-Thomas. We took a cab to Magen's Bay and stayed there for 4hrs. Great beach but heavy waves and the water, because of the current, was not as clear as before. Still saw some turtles. Went afterwards to Paradise Point for the sunset. Amazing place to see sunset. We could see at the other port the beautiful Celebrity Equinox which I hope to sail one day when kids will not ask for waterworks anymore :). Stayed the latest at St-Thomas that night and went to the buffet. Although the selection is not great, the food is really good. No show tonight so hung out in the public places with the kids.
8- Wednesday San Juan Porto Rico. Great day walking around the city and visiting the 2 forts with the kids. Walked over 16,000 footsteps during the day. Was hot but not too humid. The location of the port makes it really easy to do the visit by yourself. We tried the restaurant Triana's Tapas close to the port for lunch. Expensive but very good quality. Tapas are huge plates so if going there, take that into account. They have kid menus. Kids went to play in the waterworks in the afternoon and really like both waterslides and the kids area. There was 4 people checking the area to make sure that everything went well and was safe. Went to see 88 Keys that night and it seems the secondary male singer found a little bit of his voice back. This was the most enjoyable show of the week.
9- Thursday Grand Turk. We were able to disembark at Grand Turk and not be denied like the MAGIC the day after. Read on Cruise Critic about Jack Shack and went there with the kids. Nice friendly place with good food (took the mixed plate) and good beer. There was a lot of people at Jack Shack that day (I would say close to 200) and service to get drinks was long. Kids played in water until 4PM. Beach is nice and clean and compared to Jamaica where locals harass you all day to sell something, locals at Grand Turk are nice and do not bother you when you say no. This night was Flick and was the show I was the most excited about. It is a really nice show visually but again the singing was really not good.
10- Friday Fun day at sea. Temperature went down on that last day. Kids went to play in the waterworks right after lunch time and we had to stop in the middle of the afternoon as it started to rain. Went inside and played board games, went to the arcade and relaxed in our room balcony.
11- Debarkation. Arrived at Port Canaveral at approx. 6AM. Started debarkation around 7AM. We went down at 7h30 as asked on the paper (As we put our 2 big luggages outside the previous night) we received but we were denied and had to wait as they said FTTF had past already. Talked to another person on-board who got us a spot in the first groups out. It seems that if you have FTTF, even though you are assigned one of the priority group, you still need to debark before the groups are called. All in all, it took 45 min to debark and we were off to Alamo for rental car. Spent the afternoon at Disney Springs before taking plane.
Here is the ranking (best to ''worst'') on everything we did on the cruise and all aspects. This is my opinion and for sure not everyone will agree 🙂
Boarding: Carnival, NCL, RCCL
Room: Carnival, RCCL, NCL
Dining Room Food: RCCL, Carnival, NCL
Buffet: NCL, Carnival, RCCL
Entertainment: RCCL, NCL and far away Carnival
Ship flow: Oasis of the Sea, Getaway/Breakaway, Breeze
Bars drinks selection: NCL, RCCL, Carnival (NCL and RCCL bars were open most of the time of the day where Carnival had special opening hours for a lot of the bars)
Outside venues: We really like having a ''boardwalk'' so NCL, Carnival, RCCL.
Specialty restaurants: did not do any on Carnival so cannot comment.
I understand that rust is to be found on a ship sailing in saltwater but please Carnival, do yourself a favor, and hire 5-6 more guys on each ship and just ask them to paint a little bit at every port like we have seen NCL and RCCL do. This would just help your reputation a little bit more. 🙂
Overall, we really liked our cruise. We had a great price and found the stops really interesting. We are not loyal to any cruise line and we hate to visit ports more than once. We prefer to select our itineraries based on new ports and also on the price 🙂 We will probably sail Carnival again but NCL remains our #1 for the moment and we are looking at their cruise on the EPIC departing from San Juan.
If anyone has any questions, let me know and I'll be pleased to answer them.
Happy cruisin to everyone 🙂