We departed Miami Saturday Nov 4, 2012. A better name for embarkation would be "Cattle Roundup". We were herded into a terminal building. From the get-go it was evident there were not enough people to direct the passengers to waiting areas. When boarding group numbers were called, the line to board formed from many directions into one line. Because no one from Carnival could organize a line, at the meeting point of all these lines, people caused a jam and everyone had a different idea of where the "official" boarding line was. This lack of enough staff to provide control seemed to set the tone for the entire cruise.
The dining room waiters were severely understaffed. These people performed exceptionally well given the number of people assigned to them. Nothing was consistent night to night. Sometimes we got bread before the meal and other times we needed to ask. Sometimes our water glasses were refilled and other times we needed to ask.
We were never served hot food. The food served was at best lukewarm. One evening, I timed how long after our food was placed on the waiter's station until it was served to us to be nine minutes. This was not the fault of our waters. I would attribute the delay to one waiter trying to accommodate three tables of eight from bread to water to entree to coffee and dessert. The food was good and well presented. It just needed to be served hot. Desserts in the dinning room were better than the buffet, where they looked better than they tasted.
We found the elevators to be horribly slow. I realize there were nearly 4,000 guests on board but the elevators were not at all efficient.
It was difficult to move through different sections of the ship, such as near the photo walls, buffet stations where people were adding toppings to their burgers and in the aisles outside the shops where tables of items for sale impeeded the flow of traffic.
In defense of Carnival, they refer to being "Fun Ships" and indeed they are. There was always something going on and guests were encouraged to participate.
There is much more to say about Carnival. In my opinion, the workers did an outstanding job under circumstances that could have been avoided by better management and staffing. Carnival has lost me as a customer and they have much to do to right all they do wrong.