This was our third cruise on Carnival. We find this line to offer the best cruise vacation value. We were on the lowest passenger deck and at first I was a little worried about that, but it turned out just fine (with one exception - read on). I think I may actually prefer deck 1 since we felt very little movement.
Embarkation - This was the worst and longest embarkation we've ever had. It took about an hour and a half of waiting in line to get onboard, lugging our carry on luggage x5 people all they way. Surely, there must be a more efficient way to do this!
Cabin Issues - The drawers were dirty so I asked my room steward to clean them. After re-cleaning they still had dirt and someone else's hair in them. Yuck. I decided to line them with hand towels. Our refrigerator didn't work for the first few days, then was just barely cold. Not cold enough to store food or get drinks cold. One bedside lamp was severely damaged, and the lampshade cracked. My room steward said 'it's been that way for a long time'. Hmm...Worst of all there were loud noises that came from below at all hours of the night that woke me up many, many times. Our family in the cabins beside mine heard them too, but it was worst in my cabin. Steer clear of cabins 1291, 1295 and 1299. I informed my cabin steward, and I made numerous calls to maintenance and they couldn't determine the cause. I asked to be moved to another cabin, but was told the ship was full. I was exhausted from lack of sleep. I even called maintenance once at 3:45am to share the joy. They were never able to find the source. I will be sending Carnival a letter about this.
Past Guest benefit: The main benefit of their scaled-down loyalty program in Red level is one free drink. Boy did we have to be determined to get it. Most cocktail servers didn't even know about it. We asked and asked and were finally told we had been given a coupon for it. Nope. Not us. It became a joke for us to keep trying to get that free drink. After about 5 visits to guest services we received our free drink coupons 2 days before our cruise ended. lol. They were good drinks though. Boy, did we have to earn them.
The overall experience and mood was what we've come to expect from Carnival. The shows were decent, The comedy shows were decent, the food was pretty good, there was lots to do if you wanted to, great towel animals, the water slide was great and the ship's decor was my favorite of the three Carnival ships I've been on. I generally don't care for Carnival's decor, but this ship was least offensive. Best of all, my kids absolutely loved the kids program. The little ones hated to leave, and we hardly ever saw our oldest. They had such an amazing time. Our room steward other than the issues mentioned was very friendly as were our dining room waiters. We also enjoyed the ports very much.
Overall we had a very good time. I'd say excellent if not for the issues mentioned above.
Overall, we think Carnival provides the best bang for the buck among the cruise lines we've been on.