We took this cruise to celebrate my husband's 40th birthday. We were travelling with our 6 year old twin boys, who had never cruised before. My husband and I have cruised once before.
We flew in to Fort Lauderdale the day before our cruise was departing. We spent the night at the Ocean Inn, a small inn in the Hollywood Beach area. It was an economical and clean little inn with a lovely continental breakfast included.
The day of the cruise we made our way to the port at approximately 10:30 a.m. We had VIP embarkation since we were staying in a suite. The embarkation went very smoothly. Once we were checked in we waited about 5 minutes for embarkation to begin. We were able to walk right on the ship and start exploring. We went straight up to the Lido deck and had our lunch shortly after 11. I tried the Mongolian Grill since I heard the line-ups later in the week could be long. It was delicious!
Food: The food was quite good. It wasn't gourmet but there was always something yummy, both at the buffet and in the dining room. We really enjoyed the deli sandwiches! We ate in the Washington dining room most nights and the service there was excellent. All of our food came hot and quickly. Our children liked dining there and our waiter was really nice to them. The chocolate melting cake was fantastic and we had it almost every night! On the final night of the cruise my husband I ate in the Steakhouse. The food there was great and we really enjoyed our meal. Definitely worth the extra money!
Room: We had upgraded to a Grand Suite shortly before our cruise and it was worth it! The room was very spacious, the bathroom was huge, including a whirlpool tub which the kids used a few times, and a double sink vanity. There was a lot of room to store all of our clothes and our cabin steward kept the room very clean for our entire stay. The location mid-deck on the 7th floor worked out really well for us as it was just a few flights of stairs up or down to everywhere we wanted to go.
The ship: We really enjoyed the ship. The kids liked the arcade, pools and water slide. We didn't spend much time lounging but when we did want to we were always able to find loungers, just not right next to the pool. The entire ship was very clean and there were always staff working to keep it that way.
Camp Carnival: One of our sons really enjoyed the Camp Carnival activities. He went to at least 1 activity every day. The staff there seemed very nice and the activities were well organized. His only complaint was that sometimes they didn't seem to be following the schedule so he would show up for one activity and when they got there they wouldn't be doing that one. He still had fun though!
Ports: If we had one complaint about this cruise it would be that we did not get enough time in Grand Cayman or Jamaica. In both ports we had to be back on the ship quite early and since local time was an hour behind ship time you felt kind of rushed. We enjoyed all of the ports although now that we've tried it out we would probably give ourselves more beach time rather than rushing around trying to see "attractions".
Disembarkation: This was the one part of the cruise that we found to be pretty disorganized. We were supposed to be in the first group of self-disembark people but we found that they were letting people off before they even announced it so there was quite a long line up by the time we got down there. It seemed like pretty much anyone could just start trying to get off right away. Oh well, we made it off fairly quickly but I'm not sure what it would have been like for people further behind us!
Overall we really enjoyed our cruise. This was our first time with Carnival and we will probably cruise with them again, especially while our kids are young.