This was the first cruise that my wife and I have ever been on. She is 52 and I am 54. Our travel agent suggested this cruise and ship based on what we were looking for and being first time cruisers.
We flew down from Baltimore to Fort Lauderdale the day prior and stayed at the Bahia Mar, which is about a mile north of the port. Due to Tropical Storm Debby we had a lot of wind and it was overcast. Not much rain, but there were rain squalls the whole time we were in town. Hotel was nice for being on the beach and they had a nice walking bridge that went over the major road to get to the beach. It was nice to be able to leave your room and be on the beach in minutes. Highly recommend staying at this hotel due to this feature. They have a breakfast buffet that is very nice also.
Carnival delayed the boarding times from 12:00 to 1:30 and sent an email out the afternoon before, probably due to the weather. We got to the board before 2:00 and left our bags with the porter and started the boarding process. There were lines, but they went very quickly and we were so excited and it showed. Once you dropped your bags, you moved inside and did not have to go outside again, so this was very nice due to the storms. It was so windy that it blew one of the walkway covers clean off.
We were allowed to go directly to our rooms, even though there were no bags yet. Those arrived while we were leaving port and we had plenty of time to change for dinner. We selected early seated dining in the Posh restaurant at a table for four. Never had a problem and we were seated with a wonderful Christian couple that will always be our friends as a result. The dining experience was fantastic and our servers and hosts were very entertaining with singing and dancing every night. We really were spoiled and miss it. We had seen some critics about the food not being hot or late in arriving. Never had this problem and there were more then enough selections to choose from. Highly recommend the Chocolate Melting Cake for dessert. Eyes rolled back in my head, it was so good.
We had a aft-extended balcony cabin, 8457, on the Veranda Deck and it was bigger then we had anticipated. More then enough room for my wife and I and the balcony was huge. We really did not spend a whole lot of time in our room as we were either out exploring the ship or in port. There was always something to do. If you felt board, that was your own fault. I actually wish we had more time to see and do everything.
The cruise was for six nights. The first day we were supposed to go to Key West, but Tropical Storm Debby had other ideas and we spent the day at sea and then went to Cozumel, Mexico the next morning. We booked a snorkeling adventure thru Carnival and had a blast. Next was Grand Caymans and then Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Those are reviewed below.
We went to the Sun King Restaurant the second evening and well worth the cost and experience. We tipped as much as the meal cost, because we were really treated like we were in a five-star restaurant. Our hostess spent a lot of time with us when I was asking her lots of questions about her experiences working for Carnival. If you are considering doing this restaurant, I highly recommend that you do it.
We "grew up" with 70s and 80s music and there were lot of it to listen to. We especially like the Habana Bar as the band was wonderful and they had big leather seats to sit in. We do not smoke, so there were more then enough places to be where the was no smell of smoking, but the piano bar, comedy club and most of the casino reeked of stale cigarettes. We just avoided those places.
The buffet on the lido deck was more then adequate. Rarely had lines and if there were, you just talked to the people in line. I firmly believe that you make your cruising experience what you want to make of it. I heard a lot of grumbling about lines for this or that, or the service was bad, or whatever. We never experienced that and were impressed with how well organized everything was.
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and Carnival Cruise and plan on going again next year!