It was our first cruise and had the intention of keeping our cruise relatively inexpensive. It was to celebrate our college graduations, so neither of us had money to spare. We are a younger couple in our early 20s. Neither of us are big drinkers or gamblers, nor are we really into the partying scene so take this review with that in mind.
-Room: Our room, an interior room on the 7th deck aft, was great! I really think it was one of the best parts. It's much larger than you would expect and there were three large closest to put our things. Our bathroom had more than enough shelf space for all of our toiletries and even the bathroom itself was more spacious than I thought it would be. The beds are comfy and we had no issues with our AC/Heating units as some people have said. It was a dungeon when the lights were off. Combined with the gentle rocking of our bed, we had a wonderful night sleep every time.
-Steward: Our steward was wonderful. He knew our names by the time we entered our room. Every night and day, he managed to slip in when we weren't there and tidy up our room to perfection. I always thought it was clean. Our turn down service was wonderful. It was so relaxing to enter our room and see our chocolates and Fun Times laid out on our bed at night and know that we didn't have to lift a finger. He went above and beyond to make our experience wonderful and I so appreciated it. I never saw him without a smile.
-Embarkation/Debarkation: Others have already commented on how easy and fast it was. I agree wholeheartedly. Everyone worked like a well oiled machine.
-Ship's Layout: Though the ship was large, once you understood the layout, it was easy to navigate. Very practical. Hallways were large enough to accommodate everyone and I never felt like I was on top of anyone when I was relaxing on the decks-- granted we stayed FAR away from the two main pools.
-Adults Only area: This was a 21-only space and an absolutely wonderful area. They spent extra money to put comfy cushions and lounge chairs all around. It's at the back of the ship, far away from the other two main pools so the noise is quite minimum. It is an oasis... however, if you were there after 9 AM it was nearly impossible to get a space here, ESPECIALLY since people blatantly ignored the "No Reserving Seats" rule. (I watched one of the coveted circular seats be "reserved" by just one flip flop from the group of girls next to it. Granted, you could apparently complain to the Carnival crew and they would take care of it, but it would've been much better if they were more proactive, considering lines would often form to grab a spot.) Finally, if you're down here, get used to the bar service pushing their drinks once every five or ten minutes.
-The Entertainment: We went to the nightclub... once. No one, NO ONE was dancing. Yea, it was relatively early, but honestly, it was just dead. We walked in and walked out. Awful. Then the big productions. Thank goodness they were free or I would've wanted my money back. The dancers weren't bad and the main male lead was excellent. Spot on. My problem-- and the problem of several other cruisers as I found out-- was the female lead, Erin Andrews. She could not seem to get the right key, nor could she articulate her words. Her strut-- look out for it as you watch the show, you won't be able to STOP seeing it-- was the most aggravating thing. And, this is what absolutely BLEW my mind, she cannot dance. Watch for it. You'll notice that she sneaks off during all the scenes and when she does "dance" it's just the simplest choreography. In contrast, the male lead was clearly trained in dance and did wonderful, making his numbers the best of all the shows. It actually got to the point where I groaned audibly when she got on the stage. I don't understand why they keep her around, surely there are more talented singers who can actually dance that want her job...
-Service in the Main Dining Room: It was always hit or miss with them, usually a miss. We had the anytime dining and typically were sat on the starboard side. After a series of cold dinners and long waits-- one time we sat watching our food for TWENTY minutes sit on the service line before it was actually taken to our table, of course it was freezing cold by the time it got to us. Eventually we caught on and would ask to be seated in another section. We DID find a wonderful service team with three days left of our vacation on the port side-- highly recommend sitting with Ariel's team as it was the only one where we felt we were taken care of.
-Mermaid Grill: The food in the Mermaid Grill was awful. I hated eating there. The eggs are the worst thing you'll ever eat, doused in salt. Bleh. Eventually we started to just skip the grill and order room service instead which had much better standards.
-Decor: Pretty tacky. Like, really tacky.
Overall, our cruise was about $1,050-- we actually got money back from Carnival on our last day. This included a few minutes on the wi-fi, a shore excursion and a copy of a formal picture we took. Again, we don't drink soda or alcohol, so we didn't have those expenses. In all, it was worth the money. We had a wonderful trip and didn't feel like we were missing out on anything. However, I don't think I will sail with Carnival again. The way I compared it was like staying at the Red Roof Inn versus possibly staying at the Hilton-- it was good for the money and comfortable, but it left something to be desired.