This was my 11th cruise, my husband's 3rd cruise. We are both 46. This was our first time on Carnival.
Since we live in FL now, we were dropped off at the terminal around 11am. I found the embarkation process to be very quick and painless. We were on the ship by around noon, had a welcome aboard drink, and headed up to the Unicorn Cafe for lunch.
We thought the ship was in great shape for it's age. We had expected really glitzy decor, and while there were countless urns, we didn't think it was TOO gaudy. We didn't notice much, if anything, inside the ship that needed repair, although the exterior could use some sprucing up.
We were pleased with our cabin, both in location and size. Found it comparable to our balconies on Royal Caribbean. I liked that the shower had a curtain, rather than a door because it seemed roomier. I also liked the bathrobes provided in every room. Cabin steward was discreet and efficient, although we never knew how many towels we'd end up with on any given day.
Food was subpar, in our opinion. We had anytime dining and only tried the main dining room once because the lines were ridiculous every time we attempted to go there. We waited in line once (on elegant night) for probably close to 30 minutes and were then given a pager once we got to the front of the line. It was probably another 10 minutes or so before we were called. And all of this for cool/cold mediocre food. I don't get the hype about the melting chocolate cake. It reminded me of cake that hadn't cooked properly, and I handed it over to my husband once I got to the mushy part.
The food selections in the buffet were limited, especially at breakfast. Bagels were pre-toasted, so hard as rocks. We weren't able to locate cream cheese, although I did see something I suspected was cream cheese, but not labeled. The buffet hours were kind of crappy, in our opinion, and the only thing available 24/7 was pizza. We tried to find some free cookies after our nap one day and were unsuccessful. Dinner options were no better than lunch. Most of the food was cool/cold, although several things were piping hot. I found myself eating a lot of salad and potatoes throughout the cruise. I did really like the potato salad, but heard a lot of pax complaining it was bland.
If you like paninis and pizza A LOT, you'll be happy. If you like a little more gourmet experience at the buffet, you'll probably be disappointed. I'm trying to think of something I loved, but nothing comes to mind. I'm pretty sure the lamb made me sick, and I heard several others say the same.
The Serenity adults-only area was very nice. We spent some time back there on several days.
The main pool areas were never crowded (actually, the only thing we saw that was crowded on the whole ship were the comedy shows). The music seemed to be the same thing day in and day out, Electric Slide, Cha-Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Gangnam Style. Poolside entertainment was in the form of a DJ...no live music...which was sort of a blessing in disguise once we heard some of the live performers onboard.
Activities were pathetic. The only thing that seemed well-attended was trivia. The activities we tried to go to seemed to start earlier than scheduled and were in full swing when we arrived early (trivia, quest), or were not as listed (name that tune at the piano bar was just the same guy playing the same stuff -- no game show feel). The "entertainers" we saw often sounded like bad karaoke -- especially the guitar player in the atrium and casino. We didn't see any "shows" to speak of. We went to a couple of the comedy shows, which seemed to be the most popular thing on the ship. The piano bar guy was a talented pianist, but didn't have a very wide range. One passenger asked if he knew anything by Zac Brown Band and he said no, he'd never heard of Jack Brown.
The staff, while cordial, didn't seem particularly friendly. My husband stood up in the Unicorn Cafe to find somewhere to put his empty plate before going back for more food and was approached by a crew member who told him, "Give it to me, sir." Not, "I'll take that sir" but "give it to me".
I had several crew members walk directly in front of me, whereas in the past, they've stopped, smiled, and allowed me to pass. Little things, but they speak the level of service, I suppose.
Debarkation was smooth, once they got one particular non-citizen to report. I'd say it was more efficient than Royal Caribbean's process.
All in all, it wasn't a BAD cruise, but not our best. I might sail Carnival again to give them another try -- perhaps a newer ship -- but it won't be soon.