Boarding the boat:
My family decided to park our car in the dock parking area. This was a pretty easy task. Everything was self explanatory. We parked the car and hopped on the shuttle that took us to the terminal. Once at the terminal we went through security which took approximately 5 minutes. We then stood in line to check in and get our sail and sign cards. This only took about 10 minutes. Then we walked up a flight of stairs to have our picture taken and board the boat. Once on the boat there are staff members placed for those who need assistance and directions. It does get a little confusing as there are tons of people wondering around aimlessly trying to figure out where to go.
This is an older ship, so we weren't expecting it to be huge or modern. I traveled with my husband and two children (9 and 11 years old). Our cabin was an ocean view. These rooms are definitely not suited for four people. There are bunk beds that came down from the walls. Only the cabin stewards can put them up and down (they have a key), which can get annoying when you need the room in the mornings and evenings to get ready. They do put them up when you leave in the mornings though. The bathroom was tiny. You get a standup shower (no bath) and a very uncomfortable toilet. The bathroom is really dated with caulking everywhere to fill in the holes over time. The storage space is ok with tons of closet space. The draw space is another story. I don't know what you can put in a draw that is approximately 4 inches tall at the most. Undergarments and swimsuits maybe, but nothing else.
We opted for the open seating for dinner in the Celebration dining room. This was pretty easy to get in, I give them that. The quality on the other hand, was not that great. The first night was fine, but it seemed to just go downhill after each night. I had the NY strip steak one night. I like my steak rare, but received it medium well. I asked my waiter if he would mind taking it back for a steak that was cooked rare and was told that this is how it is supposed to be cooked. My daughter ordered the same steak cooked medium and it was rarer than mine. When I finally got mine it came back raw (cold in the middle). Another night I ordered the frogs legs. Now I have had frogs legs on numerous occasions so I do know how they are cooked. These were undercooked. I told the waiter (it was a different waiter this night) who told me that this is how they are cooked. I told him that I couldn't eat them this way and he just walked away. I thought he could have asked if I would like something else instead. Another night, we ordered coffee that never came because we were being rushed out of the dining room (around 9:15pm). The food on the Lido deck (the buffet) was the same every morning, scrambled eggs, grits, ham, bacon, sausage, or omelets. I had an omelet one morning, but it was undercooked in the middle so I didn't have another. Lunch on the Lido deck was ok, mainly burgers and hotdogs outside with a variety inside. The salad bar wasn't that great, neither was the dessert bar. We hit the sushi bar a few times, which was good.
Ok, first the cabin steward. He wasn't very personable. I always said "hi" when I saw him and just got a smile back. My husband asked for clean beach towels one day, which we never got. The floors weren't cleaned daily. The beds were always made and set up (bunk beds) when we returned from dinner though. The bar staff were nice and always around. Service was a bit slow in the Universe Lounge, but I understand they make sure they have as many orders as possible before they go to get them filled. The dining staff on the other hand, was awful. One waiter was the exception, Elbert. He was wonderful. The first night we took an open bottle of wine to dinner. My husband looked up and saw our waiter talking to another waiter and laughing at us. I'm guessing he thought it was funny that they were going to charge us a corkage fee for a bottle that was already open. Which they did. We were also charged a corkage fee another night for a bottle of wine that had a screw top. I don't need to bring up the waiters response to the food, which was mentioned above.
Life on the boat:
It would have been nice to know the weather conditions at each port from the Captain before we disembarked. We were drenched in Key West, froze in Freeport, and got fried in Nassau. There are a few things to do on the boat if you have children like playing miniature golf, ping-pong, playing in the water park and slides, swimming, going to the arcade, and hanging out at Camp Carnival (which we didn't use so I can't comment on that). The first two days the water park and slides were closed. We couldn't play ping-pong the entire trip because the tables were always being used. The miniature golf course was fun with no complaints. The pool was impossible to get to most of the time. There were the same drunk people who saved the loungers every morning. Yes, Carnival has a no save policy but they don't enforce it. We sat by the loungers for a good 45 minutes one day waiting for staff to move towels, but they never did. The last day, there were drunk adults sitting all around the edge of the pool playing "keep the beach ball in the air" so the kids couldn't swim. My daughter played $5 in coins at the arcade one day. She lost $2 in machines that didn't work. She never went back. The most shocking thing was when one of the performers came out onto the Lido deck to talk to another performer about how the lead singer/performer was diagnosed with the mumps. I was sitting about 10 feet from her and heard every word she was saying. Oh my gosh, I have children. This is not something I needed to hear while trapped on a boat with this person. She said the ill performer was being quarantined to her room, but you know she was wandering around the boat before she was diagnosed. Nothing was mentioned to the passengers about taking extra precautions to keep hands clean.
A cruise is what you make out of it. We had a great time overall, mostly because of the ports, spending time together as a family, and the fact that I didn't have to cook or clean for 6 days. I will definitely think twice about cruising with Carnival again though, as the quality of food and service were not what we are used to on a cruise ship.