We left from NY on the 29th - we arrived at the terminal early - actually rode in the bus with many ship crew personnel. We were eating lunch by 11:30. Yes, there were lines, but life if full of lines, at the movie theatre, to get into the basketball game, to get out of the parking garage. So no big deal.
Learned our way around the ship easily, found the not so secret "secret" doors that go out on deck 10. Best part is there were never more than a dozen people out there. Great place to be when leaving or entering port. View of the Statue of Liberty was great and no juggling for a place to take a good picture. Deck 6 also offers a great uncroweded place for viewing. Just go forward to the doors with the round windows and step outside.
The only time we ate in the buffet was on arrival. All other meals were had in the dining room or in port. We had anytime dining and only once had to wait about 30 minutes for a table but we were a party of eight. Food was OK. It wasn't grand, it was always edible, some nights better than others. Nice normal portion sizes, not like trying to serve a giant. It was a bit hard to come back to the real world and realize that the warm chocolate melting cake was not on the menu. Breakfast in the dining room was the same menu every day but varied enough to have something different each day. Never had problem getting refills on coffee or the great hot chocolate.
Shows were fine. I looked at them as extra. We were paying less than 100 bucks per night per person for our room and all meals and any entertainment was extra. Good talent, fast paced and enjoyable. Comedian was funny. The illusionist was a bit loud - heard that comment often, but it was an older crowd and not really our kind of music.
Service anywhere, anytime was always pleasant and timely. Great room steward, Budi, didn't get to know the dining room personnel that well because we had different waiters each night.
My only complaint I believe is a major one. On the final morning when we were asked to leave our rooms and go to either the Lido deck or the Promanade deck, we chose the promenade deck because we could easily walk down the two flights of stairs to leave the ship and not wait for an elevator down from deck 9. Well, it was very crowded and we did find a place to wait and then to my surprise, people came up to the bar not far from where were sitting and started to smoke. I was so surprised that this would be allowed. I would think that when forced to be in a certain place that smoking would not be allowed. It got really bad when there about five smokers right there and of course by this time, there is no place to move. I plan to address this with Carnival when I fill out the survey they sent.
So a first cruise, and probably not our last. We went on this cruise because of the ports of call and they did not disappoint at all. We are looking at an Alaskan cruise with family next summer.