Although I only live 10 miles away from Boston, I have never cruised out of that port before. Driving in and parking was very smooth and convenient (and remarkably affordable at $50 for a 5-night cruise, compared to other parking venues around Boston). Embarkation took about an hour altogether, and the ground staff seemed a bit frazzled, but that may be due to a bad-weather embarkation delay they had had two weeks before which brought about some negative customer reviews. We had no such delays.
Our luggage arrived promptly and our first-floor, interior room was extremely clean and spacious for a cruise liner. My 8-year old loved the pull-down bunk bed and believe me when I say the super-soft mattresses and high-end bed linens Carnival now uses are the most comfortable I have ever slept on. Seriously, it was hard to ever get up in the morning! Closet space was ample. The bathroom was small but functional. Our steward, Felix, was very polite and worked extremely hard cleaning our room twice daily. One time our safety deposit box got stuck and within 5 minutes, Felix had a maintenance supervisor in our room, fixing the problem. At times we could hear the engine rumbling, especially when the ship traveled at a faster speed (especially going from St. John to Halifax), but otherwise, deck 1 was quiet and peaceful.
The food was excellent and there was plenty of options. The lobster tail and shrimp were outstanding, as was the chocolate buffet. Service was a little rushed at dinner, but we had the early seating and I know the staff had to get ready for the 8:15 pm seating. The buffet food was good, but not as gourmet as the food in the restaurant; room service was also prompt and tasty.
The weather we had was on the cool side, which we expected in Canada, so it was cold if you went swimming, although my husband and daughter loved the water slide so much that they braved the chilly air to wait in line repeatedly for it. The gym was not busy and included weights, machines, and some classes you could purchase for a fee; I enjoyed my workout. In addition to the outdoor adult-only pool, there is an adult-only jacuzzi inside the gym, which has super-hot, bubbling water...so relaxing.
Camp Carnival was an absolute dream! If you are reluctant to cruise because you have kids...try Carnival Cruise Lines. Each ship runs a camp, staffed by energetic and fun counselors from all over the world. The programs run all morning, part of the afternoons, and all evening (kids can even eat dinner together at the buffet restaurant). Your child can do as much or as little as they want. My daughter had an absolute blast doing crafts, video games, dancing, games, movies, etc. She never wanted us to pick her up at night!
The after-dinner shows were good, although the costumes are now quite provocative and immodest (on the ladies, not the men). I felt that detracted from the dancing and singing.
St. John was interesting. We took a trolley tour and learned about some of the local history. It looks remarkably like many towns in New England. Halifax is a beautiful, upscale urban community with a great harborside walkway and many funky shops. The coffee and ice creams were excellent there :) Both cities were immaculately clean and the people were friendly and quite laid-back.
We had a fun-filled yet relaxing family getaway for a very reasonable price. Carnival, we'll be back again really soon!