This was our first cruise. These are my impressions:
Embarkation: Since we got a call from Carnival asking if we wanted to upgrade from a balcony room to a suite a few weeks prior to the cruise, we went ahead and upgraded. This included VIP embarkation and it only took about 10 minutes! Easy Peasy. Oh yeah, and I wanted to add here that I took a clothes steamer and a power strip, per advice found on this site. They confiscated both of them! We got them back at the end of the cruise.
Cabin: As stated above, we got a suite, and it was pretty nice. Decor was outdated, but there were two closets, a minibar, and tons of drawers. It also had a jacuzzi bathtub. Other than the square footage (Our cabin was 235 square feet and, balcony cabin we originally booked was about 185) and the bathtub, I don't know what the difference is between this cabin and the balcony cabin we had originally booked, but we were pleased with this cabin.
Steward: Arnold was such a pleasant man. Always had a smile on his face and our room was cleaned twice a day. Upon meeting him, my husband tipped him $20.00 and tipped him almost every time we saw him.
Food: I have mixed feelings about the food. I thought the buffets were pretty bland. It wasn't horrible, just not very tasty. The dining room, however, was pretty good. We ate in the dining room three of the five nights we were there. On elegant night, I had the lobster and it was really good. They don't give you a ton, but you can order as much as you want. And you've got to check out the pastrami sandwich at the deli on the Lido Deck, and also on room service menu. Yum!
Dress: Shorts almost the whole time. I did wear a long gown on elegant night and did not feel out of place. My hubby wore a suit.
Photos: They take a picture every time you turn around! But I actually liked that because we haven't had a professional picture taken of us since we got married 18 years ago!!
Shows: We only saw the magic show, but I'd say it compared to a top notch show in Las Vegas, complete with show girls! It was very good.
Excursions: Didn't book any in Progreso. Just went shopping in the port. My one complaint is the excursion we took in Cozumel. It was completely geared to steering you to certain shops, from which it appears Carnival gets a kickback. It was half a day excursion called Shopping and Highlights of Cozumel. We were supposed to be taken to a tequila factory. It wasn't a factory at all. They just sold tequila. We were taken to a little town with about three or four shops, and told that we would get a good deal at these shops. Anyway, it was pretty much a joke. Next time, if we want to shop, I'll forego the so called "excursion" and just shop on our own.
Debarkation: Again, we had VIP debarkation. We were told to go to the Lounge (I think it was the Rome Lounge), and about 5 minutes after we got there, they told us to go ahead and debark. Very smoothly run.
Anyway, I am excited to go on another cruise -- and open to exploring different cruise lines. But I would definitely go on a Carnival cruise again.
If anyone has any questions, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org