This was our eighth cruise, our seventh on Carnival. We selected this cruise because it goes to some different ports than we've seen before and we really wanted to go to Aruba because many friends have gone there.
I think because of the different itinerary and perhaps because it was 8 days it was not the first cruise for most people on board and also it was not their first Carnival Cruise. There were many Platinum Status customers on-board.
It was not a "wild" group but it wasn't totally "quiet" either.
This was our first time with an Extended Balcony. I liked the extra room but unless I got it as a free upgrade I would not go out of my way for it. We were on the 8th deck and I think I would have preferred the 6th or 7th (we could hear them moving chairs on the Lido deck above, it wasn't annoying but we could hear it). I think the housekeeping and dining room staff spoke better English than on previous cruises. Staff was very good but I felt a little sorry for the cruise director, Malcolm- he was from the Bronx and the group was largely from the mid-west and his "NYC shtick" didn't get the laughs,
This ship was a little smaller than others we have been on, It's been retrofitted to include some of Carnival's newer features, this is generally for the good but some items just didn't seem to fit -- for example Camp Carnival appeared to have venues on several different decks. The old adults only swim area has been turned into the "Serenity Deck". This is good because the different decor keeps the kids away.
My number one complaint is that you can't hear the ship-wide announcements in the cabins. I think this almost can be considered a safety hazard but at the very least it was annoying. It was hard to know when the ports were clear to disembark and especially the last day it was impossible to know when it was your turn to leave.
There was fair to good participation in trivia games, etc. The comics were good and most of the shows were filled to capacity and people were turned away. The shows were the same old same old -- I thought they were supposed to change them every two years but we have not seen a new show in ages.
Port Everglades can be crowded. On a typical Sat/Sun there can be 8 ships in port. Plan to arrive slightly before or after the masses but if you do have a line just be patient. We rented to and from the port from Hertz and had a good experience getting to and from their office at the nearby Crown Plaza.
I participated in the Cruise Critic Roll Call and we met Sunday morning. It was fun to put faces to the names and then to have people that we "met" before the cruise to socialize with on the cruise.