We chose this cruise because of the convenience of driving to Boston, the reasonable price and the allure of cool weather traveling north in the summer. The drive to Boston and embarkation were as easy as could be. Porters were readily available and all staff were very pleasant. Check in was a breeze and we were aboard within a few minutes. The easiest embarkation I have experienced.
We reserved early seating dinner and were told that if it was full (all 3 - early, late and any time were all wait-listed) we would automatically be put into any-time dining. NOT TRUE. We were placed at late seating instead. Not good when traveling with a young child, especially one who really enjoys the shows. (She's a "theater kid" and begs to go on cruises because of the shows...) We went directly to the dining room to request a change. The Maitre d' was not pleasant, not helpful. He was just short of rude. Despite being only the third people in line to request a change they were unable to move us. Fortunately we had wonderful table mates, another couple with a young child, so dinner was a pleasure. It meant that we had to go to the late show each evening and my daughter never made it to bed before midnight. Luckily it was a short cruise and she was able to catch up on her sleep afterwards.
Our waiter Freddy was wonderful. He took our names the first night and always greeted us by name after that. The food was pretty disappointing, though. One night there were 4 things that sounded appealing - the other nights it was hard to find even one. We had the melting chocolate cake each night, along with other desserts that were really good. We also enjoyed the cold fruit soups and my husband had the Indian vegetarian several times. One night was disappointing but the other nights he really enjoyed it.
I never met our cabin steward but my husband said he introduced himself to him the first day. The cabin was nice but we didn't use the balcony as much as we expected. There was plenty of storage space for 3 of us. The third bed was alway made up - it was never converted to a sofa during the day which I had expected.
My daughter enjoyed Camp Carnival - we paid $25 for her to make a bear on the last sea day. She also enjoyed the kid's ice cream spa special on the first sea day (mani/pedi with ice cream - cute).
This ship's lay out is NOT user friendly. I was told it was intentionally designed to create a sense of mystery or magic. It was very inconvenient. The only decks that go from back to front are 5 and 9. 5 was always lined with photographers so it was almost impossible to pass. 9 was the Lido buffet and pools so always very crowded. Access to the restaurants were decks 3 and 4 so you had to go up in order to go down no matter where you started. Camp Carnival was deck 12 front so it was a maze of elevators and stairs and walking inside and outside to get there. The main entrance to the theater was 3rd floor front so again a lot of going up to go down. At least we were able to walk off a lot of the calories we consumed.
The fritters at the Fish and Chips were excellent and breakfast room service was always delivered right on time. Breakfast in the main dining room was a bit chaotic, the Lido buffet always crowded.
The shows were ok - nothing special. The dancers were in g-strings and showing a lot of skin - totally out of character for the family friendly approach Carnival seems to be taking. There were 2 comedians - one was very good. They each did "family" shows along with the more traditional adult offerings. One of them seemed totally miserable doing it, though, and just couldn't wait for the set to be over. He tried to get the asst cruise director to fill his time by doing his Beyonce dance. When he refused the comic just stood there waiting for it to be over.
We enjoyed our ports - did everything on our own. The jet boat at the Reversing Falls in Saint John was an adventure. We hired a taxi for 3 hours ($50 per hour shared with another family) to see the sea caves at Saint Martin - AWESOME - I highly recommend. In Halifax we visited the Maritime Museum and Citadel. They have a great kid program at the Citadel which my daughter really enjoyed.
If I had paid more for this cruise I would have been really disappointed. For the price it was ok, though. We didn't really find it relaxing and for the first time I wasn't disappointed to get off a cruise. I will likely try Carnival again if the price and itinerary are right. I won't rush to do it though.