My husband & I took our first cruise - celebrating our 10th anniversary. After reading lots of reviews on Cruise Critic and other sites, we were not sure what to expect but were looking forward to the experience nonetheless.
After an early morning 3 hr flight to Miami, we arrived at the Terminal around 11:30 am - and there was already a fair-sized lineup waiting to go through security. We were not expecting to stand in line for another hour, barely moving! There was no feedback from any Carnival employees or Security staff as to the delay. It seemed like the security staff either went on a break or their lunch, and noone was available as backup! We finally got through Security and headed to the next room, which was full of people waiting to check in. Here - we waited for another 1.5 hours. After being up @ 5 am in order to catch our flight, needless to say we were getting tired of standing around. We did get an apology there from a Carnival employee, with the explanation that it wasn't their usual terminal so that was why things were backed up. After it was all said & done, we arrived in our stateroom at around 2:30 pm.
Our stateroom was on Empress Deck, directly opposite from the elevators/stairs in the Aft of the ship. The only night this was a problem, was the last night of the cruise - lots of people seemed to be pulling an all-nighter! Room was a good size; king bed with sofa alongside. Bathroom was also a good size - only thing in the dish for complimentary samples was a pkg of toothpaste. Nothing else was added for the entire cruise. It was nice to have shampoo & body wash in the shower, we brought our own just in case. Our steward, Andre, met us in the hallway as we were heading to the Lido deck - he introduced himself and immediately asked if there was anything additional we needed. He did a very good job all week of keeping our room clean 2x/day, our icebucket filled, and the nightly towel art/chocolates were a nice treat!
Anytime dining was perfect for us. The first waiter we had wasn't that attentive, but the second night and for the remainder of the cruise, we had an amazing waiter/staff. Visa, the head waiter, and his co-workers - Made & Catherine, were amazing. We found the food to be very good and Visa was always trying to bring out other entrees from the menu for us. So much for not gaining weight!
For Breakfasts, we ate at the Buffet every morning except on sea days - when we got room service. Omelet station was good. Selection at the Buffet was good.
For lunch, we also ate at the Buffet when we made it back to the ship in time. We had Fish & Chips for lunch two days - 2nd time was not as good as the first even though we had the same thing. And we had Guys Burgers twice as well. In one word...WOW! A bit greasy but very good, and the toppings were a bonus.
As far as activities go, we did not participate in many events because we were on excursions during the port days. We did go to one of the evening shows - which was very good, and we also went to the Punchline Comedy club two nights. There was always something taking place. We spent minimal time in the casino (both of us are sensitive to smoke). Other than that, most of our time was spent walking around the ship or spending time on the Lido deck. Lido Deck had parties during a few nights of the cruise. There were also the movies on the Lido Deck which we did not stick around for, primarily because we were up early the next morning to prep for our excursions.
All excursions were enjoyable - would repeat some of them if we cruised this route again; others, would not.
Debarkation was not as long as embarkation - we were off the ship within 1.5 hrs of docking. That process seemed much smoother than the beginning of the trip!
Overall, we had a wonderful time and are looking forward to cruising again - this time with our children.