Embarkation at Barcelona (pardon the pun) was a breeze, very well organised and we were aboard ship within 30 mins and our cabin on the sixth deck was ready.
The decoration of the ship was a bit bold for our taste, but by the end of the cruise didn't notice, design and style obviously directed towards its future sailings in the Caribbean.
Our Cabin 6240 was well designed for space, and was spotless clean for our arrival, no complaints whatsoever, we selected cabin for close location to Deck 5 Plaza, and was aware we were situated above the Theatre, but on the basis that the shows would be finished by 11.00pm did not consider this to cause any problems.
The Interactive TV is useful to check Menus in Restaurants, Your Bill, Ship Location, etc and had Sky News which was great for keeping up to date with events in the UK.
Having explored the ship, we were impressed with the layout of public areas and quality of the fixture & fittings.
We opted for Anytime dining which allowed entry into the Sapphire Restaurant Deck 3 between 5.45pm-9.30pm, this proved to be a good choice allowing us the flexibility to eat at a time which was convenient to us, and allow us to either eat on our own or to join others on a larger table, we never had to wait any longer than 5 minutes to be seated.
We ate at the Fahrenheit 555 Steakhouse on the first night (complimentary bottle of wine on first night)and the food and service was excellent, we considered the $35 supplement per person money well spent on a special treat.
When we were getting ready to go out in the evening, if the early show had started the noise from the music below in the Theatre was quite loud, and if you think that you may retire to bed before 11pm, rooms above the Theatre will probably not be a wise choice.
Our only complaint about the cabin was that in moderate sea conditions (1 night out of 12) the walls creaked badly which caused us not being able to sleep, this was reported to Customer Services.
In general the food within the main restaurant was very good, and if you required your choice to be mixed and matched from the Menu, or required two portions from either starter, main or dessert this was never a problem.
We did not eat in the Marketplace Buffet for Dinner as we prefer the more formal surroundings of the Dinning Room, after reading prior reviews relating to dress standards in the Restaurant,I was pleased to note that most guests adopted a smart casual code, small complaint I wish that they would turn down the lighting though, far too bright.
Also I opted for the Standard Wine Package which was approx $110 for 5 bottles, good news was they under estimated the demand and I was upgraded to the Premium Package at no extra cost.
We also eat at the Cucina Del Capitano (Italian) for Lunch (FOC)and Dinner at a additional cost of $12 per person, the Restaurant was nicely decorated and good value, but air conditioning was set too cold.
For Lunch we also enjoyed the Mongolian Wok, Tandoori, Fat Jimmys BBQ, Guys Burgers and Blue Iguana Cantina, tremendous choice of food options available.
We enjoyed eating Breakfast in the Marketplace Buffet, and were always able to find a quiet spot at the rear of the Ship to sit near the Breeze Bar away from the crowds.
Dont forget to try the Taste Bar for a Pre-Dinner Snack with your Pre-Dinner Drink, some of the dishes were yummy !
We also enjoyed Room Service (Menu on your cabin interactive screen) and the sandwiches and wraps were very good.
Entertainment in the evenings was very good, especially enjoyed the shows Latin Nights, Diva`s, Motor City, and the Adult Comedy Club Acts, but there was always a Band or Singer playing at the numerous bars to enjoy.
Never had a problem obtaining a sun bed, our preferred area was on Deck 10/11 close to Pool and Bar, did enjoy a few visits to the Serenity Adults Area, but you need to secure a place at the crack of dawn on a Sea Day.
The Ryder Cup was on in the Casino during our trip, which as a European thoroughly enjoyed, there was great amount of banter with the Americans aboard, however signal was poor for first two days and no volume was on, biggest complaint I heard aboard was the absence of a proper Sports Bar.
The Sports Deck was great with Pool, Crazy Golf, Bar Football, Football, Basketball, Rope Course, Table Tennis, etc.
We had to use Customer Services on a few occasions, and I must say that the level of service was very high as indeed was that displayed by all the other workers aboard.
In conclusion we had a fantastic vacation, excellent itinerary, and whilst not as formal as some previous cruises with other lines, with an absence of afternoon tea silver service, Captains Cocktail Party and very grand formal nights, I would rate the overall cruising experience as good if not better than those we have experienced, great age group range and a younger overall average age than either MSC or Princess.
Despite the huge size of this ship, it never appeared over crowded and there was always lots of quite places to hang out if you wanted to.
The Cruise Director John Heald was very humorous, and the over selling of products, art auctions etc was low key, the Photographers got on your nerves after a while but a polite No was always given and accepted.
The FunTimes Newsletter was well laid out and very informative.
Disembarkation at transfers from Ship to Airport were as slick as the Embarkation process, first class.
Did not take any Carnival organised excursions, Pre-arranged my own prior to cruise using info from Cruise Critic, prices aboard expensive (like all lines)and size of party in excursions large.
We booked outside School Holidays on purpose and only 91 children out of 3500 guests were aboard, fantastic !
Would not hesitate in using Carnival again based on the experience of this Cruise.