Sorry I missed you at the get-together. We traveled with friends we only see once or twice a year so we spent a lot of time catching up. Had the room steward open the door between our balconies and we ended up spending most of our sea days there.
I was very impressed with the embarkation at the new Miami Terminal D. We arrived at 10:15 (early because all the delays and traffic we planned for that didn’t happen this time) and we had no lines at all. Our friends were to meet us at 11:00 so we finished our checkin then waited in the large comfortable waiting area with a view of the ship. At 11:00 they started loading the ship and that took about 15 minutes for all the people that had already checked in to get on the ship. There were still no lines at all until almost 11:30 when our friends arrived. They had a short line but in 15 minutes we were on the ship and heading for lunch on the Lido deck. (Note: on the first day most people don’t know about the seating on the second level so it’s easy to get a window table until about 12:30 or so) They drove from Tampa and were delayed because he dropped DW at the terminal with all the luggage then went to park. The parking garage accepts cash only and up front so he had to drive back to her to get money then drive back to park.
We had a great time and really enjoyed the laid back beach days in the Bahamas ports as well as the St Thomas and San Juan stops. Mostly shopped in St Thomas and in San Juan took a city tour then visited the forts. The weather was hot but not unbearable.
I thought the food was better than what we had on the Miracle last year but not as good as previous cruises. They must be short on waiters because we did not have a head waiter, just two team waiters and the difference is noticeable. They were good, but we didn’t get the extra special treatment we were used to. Didn’t care much for the buffets but the lines were short. Also, can’t they offer something different for breakfast once in a while? I changed up as much as I could within the limited menu but by Friday I didn’t really want any more of it.
I agree that the ship is getting a bit worn. I didn’t notice as much as you did, but agree it’s time to upgrade. I didn’t see anything that offended me, but little things that takes away from the first class feel. I was ok with the dinning room décor, if you disagree try eating in the Miracle some time
. Carnival’s web site talks about the new designs for pool areas and "serenity" zones and such so I would expect all of the ships to go through this refurbishment before too long. Except for some hallway noise our room on the Empress deck was very quite. No noise from above or below, and very little from neighboring cabins.
Slight sewer smell from 1 or 2 small areas on the ship but not persistent and barely noticeable. Seemed like the public toilets always smelled like ammonia.
Overall I would do it again in a heartbeat. But give me a week or two to get caught up on laundry and yard work.