We took the inaugural voyage from Venice having chosen it for its visits to both east and west Mediterranean ports (one of the few) and that it sails from Venice (what a view) and arrives in Barcelona (a great city to stay for a few days).
The pros are that you only unpack once and get delivered to amazing ports almost every day. Our aft balcony cabin on level 9 was very comfortable and quiet and our steward serviced the cabin often without being obtrusive in any way. The sundeck (aft) was were we spent most of our lazy time but we were unable to get into the serenity area at any time and find a place to lie down, it seemed as if the same people commandeered it everyday. The pizza, Indian and lido buffet were all good for casual eating. Mostly the embarkation was smooth and always getting back on was quick and straightforward. Some of the staff tried very hard to please. We chose 'your time dining' which was good for its flexibility but meant that the dining staff were not the same so service levels were sometimes compromised. Also couples dining seemed to be lumped together although at individual tables we were very close to each other and difficult not to overhear conversations. The supplement restaurants were good but still not great.
On the cons side 'cruise casual' is a term used to hide a way to casual approach to entertaining and delighting your guests. On the 12 night cruise there was only one semi-formal night and my husband is still cranky that he had to drag a suit all the way from Australia and then not wear it. Dress standards for the dining room were not enforced so there was everything from dressy to way too casual. The food was very average and this was disappointing. The wine list however had a number of very reasonable choices which we really enjoyed. After dinner was the greatest challenge as once you had seen the 30 minute cabaret acts x 4 shows, wandered around, got the occasional drink there was little to do. One night we ended up doing a jigsaw in the library.
People do not supervise their children enough, particularly at night so youngsters are often roaming around being noisy and disrespectful of adults and their time during the evening.
All that said nothing can take away the excitement of being on the inaugural voyage and sailing out of Venice with people waving and boats tooting to the giant Carnival Breeze.
The best ports were Dubrovnik, Athens, Monte Carlo, Messina & Barcelona. Due to a stuff up with the port bookings we missed out on the south of France which was a huge disappointment and the $50 credit per person was no compensation. The long sea days are boring and worse when you are sailing to nowhere waiting to dock because of an error in paperwork! The obscene cost of this in terms of fuel wasted, etc still makes me feel sick.
I won't be choosing to sail with Carnival again, I think they cater well to families or couples who want a very casual relaxing break. We expected more in terms of service and food.