I traveled with my husband and 16 other people. We flew into Miami the day before and stayed at the Sheraton Miami international airport. Hotel was nice and had no complaints other than it was not around any local shops. We had to take a shuttle or taxi for any type of shopping that we wanted to do.
We arrived to the pier around 12:30..big mistake. The line wrapped around the building and only got longer the longer we waited. It took us about an hour to get into the building and to go through security. Security in the port was very strict as they pulled many people aside and checked water bottles and soda bottles for alcohol. We waited in line to check in for about another half hour/45 minutes and once we were checked in (which took 5 minutes) we headed up to wait in line and get our photo taken together. After getting the picture taken we were directed through the gangway onto the ship. Our travel companions who were about a half hour ahead of us were still waiting on the ship to get in. The line stretched from the deck 4 boarding doors to the very end of the ship and went both directions (left and right). There had to be HUNDREDS of people waiting to get their boarding picture taken and to get on the ship. We waited in this line for about another hour. This was by far the WORST boarding experience that I have EVER encountered! Our luggage arrived to our rooms before we did.
I was pretty satisfied with the public spaces on the ship. They were all clean and organized with the exception of the buffet area. There were many times that items were not stocked on a daily basis (croutons for salad, fruit). The lounges were all very nice and we never had any issues with them. We did not go into the piano bar or library so I cannot give feedback on those areas. The shops were quite small and did not offer a large variety of items as previous cruise lines seem to. The laundry room was always busy and I had to wait to do wash and iron every time I went there.
Our cabin was an aft facing cabin and our steward was "K". He was by FAR the best steward that I have EVER had. Every time he saw us he said hello and used our names. He kept the room very clean and we had no complaints about him. Our one couple that traveled with us had different things to say about their cabin as they found a previous guests' used personal "item" in the closet on the floor (I'll leave it at that). It was quite disgusting. The area of our cabin was right above the crew steps and led down towards the crew bar. Every night we had a smoke smell from people smoking on the ship downstairs. We went to guest services to complain and were informed that there was nothing they could do but spray frebreze.
Fitness and Recreation:
We did use the gym a few times and there were plenty of tredmills to use as well as elliptical machines. I had no complaints at all about the gym and everything was very clean.
With the exception of the buffet area, the food was great. We did try out Guys burgers and they were just okay. My husband makes a better burger than I had on the ship. They were very greasy but did have flavor. The MDR was great. We were on the first seating and were served promptly by our waiter Luis. Food was always hot and had good flavor. We also tried Diamonds Steakhouse which was very flavorful. They served large portions and we were not able to finish our dessert lol. The buffet was mediocre. It was a huge waiting game day after day after day and often times there was no food or condiments left and I found I had to wait for more to be brought out. Finding a table took a 10 minute walk around the room for an empty table. The drinks were also VERY sugar filled. I had to dilute with water frequently.
The comedians were hilarious on the ship and we went to just about every show they put on. The stage shows were mediocre. I had actually seen one of them on another carnival ship. I was hoping for some different stage shows. Activities were plentiful and had no complaints there.
Ports of call:
We were slated to go to Cozumel, Belize, Isla Roatan, and Grand Turk but due to inclement weather, Grand Turk was cancelled and we went to Key West instead. I had been to Cozumel before and we booked the fury deluxe sail and snorkel tour with the cruise line. Snorkeling was great there and I was pleased with the operators. We booked a private scuba excursion with hammerhead in Belize and they took us to a private island where we relaxed all day. I was disappointed with Isla Roatan as we docked late and lost time on the island. The beach was decent but had too many palm trees in my opinion. I wish I could have seen more of Key west but it took forever for us to get off the ship so we only had 4 out of an 8 hour day to explore. They called every deck down separately to go through immigration and we were stuck waiting for 2 and a half hours to be able to get off of the ship and then had to add a half hour onto the day for waiting and traveling on the trolley that would take us into town (we docked in a navy yard and could not walk off the ship and around). I felt jipped.
I was not impressed one bit by the cruise this time (with the exception of our steward). The lines were long ALL the time and embarkation set it off on the wrong foot. The theme of the cruise for me was hurry up and wait. It was very discouraging and I almost felt like I was in jail waiting in all of the lines to eat, get off the ship, get on an elevator etc...I have been on 2 previous cruises with Carnival, one on princess and two on Royal Caribbean. I have NEVER experienced a wait like I did on this ship. It almost seemed like there were too many people on for the boat to handle. Either that or they just do not know how to manage lines efficiently. I think it will be some time before we decide to travel on Carnival again.