I think you will be surprised at how much Carnival has improved since your last trip with them. I happen to know you are a fan of informal dining at the buffets and I can tell you that in my expert opinion - being a trencherman of some reknown - the Carnival buffets are excellent. I am really pleased with the deli stations on the newer ships. Very good corned beef. The oriental stations offer some good stuff too.
Dave, it'll be interesting to sail Carnival again. Thanks for your thoughts on the informal dining. You're right that we like the flexibility of the buffets. We're just back from a short cruise with a group on RCI, where we actually ate dinner in the dining room each night. First time in years! We were pleasantly surprised.
I've been hearing that the present day Carnival doesn't resemble the Carnival of old, and I'm looking forward to seeing for myself.
We have done five Carnival cruises since 2002 and frankly I thought the crowd on the RCCL cruises we did during this time were bigger partyers. The Carnival cruises were rather sedate in fact. I think much of this is because RCCL will allow 18 year olds to drink beer while Carnival is strictly enforcing 21 for all.
Talk about partiers! I just got home today from MIA. Went on the 1nt Norwegian Sun Friday. You couldn't barely walk through the casino it was so packed. NCL had to have made a fortune on the $8. souvenir drinks. They were constantly flowing. The Caribbean party on deck at night was really hopping and everyone was walking around with $9 drinks in coconut shells carved like monkeys. I observed a group of baby boomers dancing by the pool bar in the middle of the day to the music of the pool band. Very interesting--yes, verrrry interesting watching someone pole dance on a ship.
OK Tom, I think you would like the Carnival Conquest, and the Carnival Miracle. Two newer ships, two different classes but very similar. A little bit older ship Carnival Victory (2000) been on her three times and always liked her. What do you think Dave? OK choices?
Yes, I remember the Caribbean Night party was amazing last year on the Spirit. There was nothing like it on CCL this summer. The New Year's Eve party (held once each cruise, year 'round) was also a great time.
Just to add my two bits to the conversation; we have been on Carnival (1), Princess (5), NCL (1), RCL (3) and Celebrity (1). We are 40, physically active, and like a quieter crowd. My order of preference would be:
We have sailed on RCCL several times w/ our kids (now 18 and 21) and always had a great time. Sailed HAL thru the canal (without them) and were very disappointed for many reasons. (service, age of passengers, ship issues)
Considering Europe this summer with the kids, considering Celebrity (redone Century) Baltic or RCCL in the Mediterranean (Brilliance or Voyager or Splendor). I am concerned about the "target age" for Celebrity. Will there be many "young adults", or is it aimed at an older crowd (boomers?). Also, curious your thoughts on Baltic vs Mediteranean ports with young adults?