Embarkation: Easy, and we would recommend that you get to the cruise terminal in Long Beach later rather than earlier. We arrived at 2pm and were on the ship by 3:15. Plenty of check in desks to accommodate passengers. Be aware, however, that the parking garage does fill up and if you do arrive around 2pm you may have to try to find a covered place, or park on the roof.
Cabin: We had a unique cabin, 2462, which has TWO windows instead of one (ocean view) and the bed faced toward the windows. It has a LONG narrow hallway leading from the door into the room. We really liked this room. We did read that the azipods (thrusters?) are below this cabin (and also below 2465 on the other side) and that we would experience intense shaking when docking and leaving port. It was true, but it was not much of a problem, and we would book this cabin again if we were ever to decide to sail on this ship again. Nice bathroom and surprisingly good shower. We rarely saw our room attendant and sometimes drinking glasses were not replaced, or ice was delivered at odd times. Bed was VERY comfortable!
Food. The main dining room (both the Black Pearl for dinner and the Gold Pearl for breakfast and lunch) were unpredictable and mostly bad; italian dishes were salt-heavy and hardly edible, and other meals were tasteless. The only reliable food for me was the oatmeal in the morning or french toast. We soon learned that the better food was in the buffet on the Lido deck, believe it or not. We especially enjoyed the Rottiserie restaurant in the Lido. We have never been on a ship, till now, that had poorer food in the dining room than the buffet. The saving grace was the two nights we were in the Pinnacle Steakhouse and those meals were superb!!! They have a different chef, different vendors for food, and the quality was excellent. Highly recommend that you book the Pinnacle!!! Otherwise this was the worst food of any cruise we have sailed.
Bars: The Mojito is wonderful. It's a small little bar off the main walkway on deck 5. It's mostly a martini bar. The woman there was so friendly and helpful and drinks were good. The Oceanview Bar in the casino was also good.
Passengers: KIDS KIDS KIDS!!! that raced up and down in the glass elevators. Ate their meals on the floor of the glass elevators, and seemed to be totally unsupervised. Our question was constantly: Why are this children not in school? There were band of roving teenagers that were going to every photographer to have their picture taken, one photo booth after the other. There were children running up and down the hallways. The people in the cabins across from us (a family in 4 inside cabins) left their backpacks, stroller, baby bottles and even a used diaper! We always knew when they came and went because the noise was so loud. We thought that booking this cruise in October we might avoid a lot of children, but we were SO wrong.
Excursions: We did not do any excursions, instead spending the two days in Cabo at a friend's condominium on the beach. In Puerto Vallarta the October thunderstorms and humidity kept us on the ship. We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the ship while we were in PV.
Stewards and waiters: We have never been on a cruise where the wait staff in the dining room or stewards in the halls did not gently move out of the way to accommodate passengers: on other cruise lines we were always greeted with a "good morning," etc., and they would step aside to make room for us to navigate the narrow hallway. Not so with this Carnival cruise. Mostly WE had to move aside, or go around carts or vacuums in the hallways. In the dining room the waiters would come toward us and expect us to move out of their way even when they weren't carrying food. The two main dining rooms are crammed with seats, so getting past seats can be difficult, and we were surprised at how often we had to dodge waiters.
Shows: Some of the best we have seen on a cruise ship. Wonderful choreography and singing. They were reviews that really got you toe-tapping. The comedians (4 of them in total) were wonderful.
Debarkation: VERY easy. I suggest you carry your own luggage off in Long Beach since it is all ramps and no stairs. We were off the ship in less than 40 minutes.
Summary: The whole feel of the cruise was much less than we were used to. We did enjoy your cruise on the Carnival Spirit in the past, but this was a whole different experience and not a pleasant one. The Splendor (with it's over-the-top decor) is headed to NYC, and they will bring the Miracle to Long Beach. I hope the Miracle provides a better experience for their passengers.