We have been on 3 cruises with Carnival. First was the Valor it was great, second was Victory, last was Liberty. The Victory cruise was bad food was awful, workers were the rudest people I have ever seen. I wonder if it was just before leave or something. The last trip was on the Liberty.... This ship old, 1970 decore, rooms had bad staines all over the carpet, torn chairs, light switches worked when they wanted and we even went all out with a grand suite. We went to Jamaca ( never again) those people are SHARKS!!! rude, pushy, at least by the Falls. Has anyone else had the same experance. And, or what Cruise lines are the best we really want to try a better cruise line this year.
I loved the Carnival Splendor back in 2009, I think it was just a few months old then. Beautiful dazzling ship and great staterooms. Everything was sparkling new! It was the Pacific Mexico cruise that departed from Long Beach, CA.
Dude don't judge an entire country based on a cruise ship excursion. Jamaica is awesome if you explore it on your own (no cruise ship). I decided to NOT go to the falls when I was in Jamaica just because it is known for being a giant tourist trap. Better spend more time in the country and go to more laid back places like Port Antonio (you can check out my stories, I've got some places and pictures of Jamaica there).
To answer your main question, what is your budget? There are much better cruise lines, but the reason Carnival is so popular is because it tends to be by far the cheapest... Would you be willing to pay, say, twice as much for a better experience?
I've been on Carnival three times. I was only a little disappointed on my cruise last year (they really reduced the past guest benefits, the captain's party, the drinks offered at the free events, etc.). Looks like they are cutting costs like everyone else. Still, I have really enjoyed Carnival all three times, and I would return. I can't see myself doing anything less than a 7-day trip, and Cozumel will always be my favorite stop.
I have been on about a dozen Carnival cruises. I agree the decor was tacky at times, but I never had bad food or dealt with rude workers. In fact most of the workers loved to take a few minutes to talk about their families back home or experiences onboard.
If you're willing to pay a little more but looking for a casual atmosphere like Carnival, I'd recommend Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. (Although I've heard a lot of bad things about the food on Norwegian.) The next step up would be a premium cruise line like Celebrity or Princess. They're definitely more expensive than Carnival, but I'd definitely recommend Celebrity. I only hear good things about them, especially when it comes to food!
About 8 years ago, some friends talked us into joining them on a 7 day Carnival cruise on the Valor. It was our first and last cruise. After the first day, we realized cruising is not our thing. Not sure if it was the loud, emcee down at the crowded pool trying to find entries for the "Hairest Chest" contest or the "Baldest Head" contest that turned us off, maybe it was the way so many hundreds of people crammed around the buffet lines in fear they would run out of food, or the crowded casino that was so smoky or what. All in all, when you are with friends, anything will do, roll with it and make the most of it, but like I said, not our thing. I am glad we went, we had a lot of laughs and the weather was perfect.
I know there are tons of other ships that offer more upscale fun, but my main reason for not cruising is that I like spending more time in a destination than just 1 days or maybe 2. I like to explore and set my own schedule.