I traveled to Miami the night before and treated myself to the JW Marriott Marquis. If you are traveling out of state, I highly recommend flying in the night before! It takes away most of the stress the morning of embarkation. I got to Port of Miami by 11am and I was literally on the ship by 11:45am. It was that fast! Everyone who was on the ship at that point headed right to the buffet, so I was able to walk the ship in peace and got some great shots. I also met my steward and got access to my cabin at about 12:30pm. Knowing that I was on my own, my steward went out of his to make sure I had everything I needed, and kept my cabin spotless!
Overall I found the ship to be very clean (I always saw staff cleaning the desk, picking up, vacuuming, etc.) and I found all staff to be quite helpful and friendly. My only complaints which I noticed another guest mentioned was the air conditioning: it was spotty at best in my cabin. However, I do know that on our sea day (last day) there were parts of the ship on decks 7 & 8 that had no air at all (thankfully my cabin wasn't that bad). I also know that the ship left Miami late the next day due to generator issues (not sure if the 2 are related). The second issue was the buffet lines: the only way to get around that was to just not eat during peak hours. Doable, but perhaps in the future this is something Carnival can plan for better. The food itself in my opinion has just gone downhill in the past 10 years. What happened to midnight buffet where you take pictures of all the beautiful food?
While I enjoy Key West, I found the timing of the port to be a waste of time. I would have rather had a sea day and enjoyed a full day in Cozumel but that is just me. Of all my cruises, I was least happy with these ports (more a case of timing than the ports themselves & for that lesson learned!).
I tried Chef's Table- which is my opinion is well worth the $75 dollars. However, it is not something I would do again unless the menu was changed. I also enjoyed the "behind the ship" tour which took place the morning of the sea day. So cool to met the captain on the bridge! You need to sign up for both of these excursions first thing as space is limited. As far as entertainment: I really enjoyed the cruise director Noonan. And I don't say that too often. He was funny without being over the top or in your face. His newly-not so newlywed game is not to miss! The comedians on this ship were also both hysterical. I saw them both on 2 separate nights and they had new material which was awesome. As for the shows.... I'll just say they weren't my cup of tea and leave it at that :)
Debarkation was just was easy as embarkation. I was off the ship by 9am. Never even had to leave my room!