While overall the cruise was pleasant because of the itinerary and the friendliness of the crew, If I had it to do over again I would choose a different cruise line. We have taken a large number of cruises and our history with Carnival has been hit or miss. We decided to try again because of this itinerary. When I filled out the necessary information for my boarding pass documents they had me pick a time to board, saying "if you miss your assigned boarding time it could result in you waiting in line". We arrived 15 minutes early and there were probably between 750 and 1000 people in line and no one had started going through security. It took over 2 and a half hours to accomplish the boarding process. After the Sydney to Honolulu portion of this pacific crossing Carnival changed the smoking policy on the ship. the casino went from non-smoking to all smoking. There is inadequate ventilation for this and the casino was virtually unusable for most of the cruise because of the pervasive cigarette smoke. The smoke also came out into other areas of the ship like the colossal atrium bar area. Carnival also cut back on the number of cabin attendants, assigning our cabin attendant 35 cabins. He gave us a choice when we boarded to have our cabin serviced either in the morning or at night, not a huge deal but definitely a reduction in service. Although the dining room food was good some nights, it was not consistently good and the service was incredibly slow, again because of staff reductions and the number of tables each team was assigned. The second night took over 90 minutes to get food and 2 and a half hours to finish the meal. The cabin attendant and the dining room staff were incredibly friendly and I have no complaint against them, I just think Carnival is stretching their staff too thin and it is affecting service. The entertainment on the ship was excellent as were the variety of things to do on the ship. The cruise Director, Jen, is one of the very best we have encountered in our 40+ cruises. The air conditioning didn't work well in our cabin and I reported it to the Cabin Attendant before we left the ship for a day in port. In addition to not working well, the adjusting dial was being held on the thermostat by a band aid. Not my band aid, it was there when we boarded. If you removed the band aid the dial fell off. The dial was useless in adjusting the temperature as it was not connected to the thermostat directly. When I got back, the room was still hot so I called him again, He thanked me for reminding him and he called maintenance. When we returned from dinner there was a small tent card on our bed that read "The Air conditioning has been checked and is functioning to Carnival standards". The band aid was still there. I took a picture of the thermostat and took that as well as the small tent card to Guest Services who called maintenance back again. They finally replaced the entire thermostat and the air conditioning worked fine after that. The only reason I can see for the liberal smoking policy is increased profits. I would have been happier with at least non-smoking sections of the casino, or a non-smoking half.. even though that is like3 a non-peeing section in a pool when you don't have adequate ventilation. I do however feel like Carnival has chosen profit over my health and comfort and I will choose another cruise option in the future. I called post cruise guest relations when I returned and the agent assured me that this is the policy on all of their ships. They used to have a non-smoking ship, the Paradise, but according to her "It didn't work out". Carnival is striving and fast becoming the Walmart of Cruises. I will not be back.
The cabin location was great and after the air conditioning thermostat was finally repaired we had no complaints. The ship is laid out kind of funny with a meandering walkway not two separate paths from one end of the ship to the other. This and the single entry point into the dining room created a significant choke point and lines of hundreds of people every night to get into the dining room. Not terrible problems, just different from other ships.