We sailed Baltimore-Bahamas from Dec. 30 - Jan 6. Since we booked a Verandah Suite we enjoyed the ease of priority embarkation and de-embarkation.
The Suite - it was SO worth it to spend the extra money - this was what made our cruise so enjoyable! We had a separate living room (flat screen tv), dressing room, bath w/ whirlpool tub and dual sinks, a separate bedroom (flat screen tv) with walk in closet, and a private balcony nearly 44 ft long. We spent lots of time on the balcony; brought meals down from the Grille or ordered room service and enjoyed it quietly outside. Totally lived like the 1% all week!
The Route - it should NOT take 2 days to get to Port Canaveral, considering how fast we returned from Freeport. The ship could buzz down to Canaveral and at least give passengers an additional day in the sun, even if just at sea. Our fellow passengers said the Disney, etc. excursions are a waste - by the time you get there & wait in line for rides, etc., you get about 2 hours before heading back to the ship. There is plenty of room for a down-sized local vendors' market at Port Canaveral, but none to be found. Instead we enjoyed the Serenity Deck that day since the majority of children were on excursions and, of course, our balcony. In Nassau we simply got off the boat, turned right on Bay St., and walked about 1/2 - 3/4 of a mile to spend the day on Junkanoo Beach, which was a great spot. Nassau itself was a different story. Crowded, loaded with peddlers, and not particularly clean or inviting. The port at Freeport at least had small shops to visit, but that's where we swam with the dolphins so didn't have much time there.
The Best Part - the dolphin swim in Freeport; located in a quiet lagoon and limited to 12 people at a time, it was totally breathtaking! We heard that a pod of wild dolphins interfered with the ocean swim, but we honestly had the time of our lives in Freeport and would've liked to spend more time there. And our suite and balcony - that was the other best part!
The Food - the steakhouse is well worth the price, but the service was wicked slow. We enjoyed the late seating in the main dining room; the waiters were extremely attentive, our table was by a window, and the food was good. The Mermaid Grille had lots of options and food was always warm, plentiful, and decent. Room service coffee was always warm to cold, so we had to get our own at the Grille every morning and bring it to our room. Disappointing limited room service menu.
The Worst Parts - the sales pitches were CONSTANT - even some of the events in the theater were sales pitches for Carnival-sponsored stores on the islands. BE WARNED - the water slide is positioned exactly above the adults only Serenity Deck - which isn't serene at all when the water slide is open. Fortunately our private balcony offered the serenity that the Serenity Deck was lacking. Also, would it be so difficult to have a few signs posted on de-embarkation day? Like "Handicapped and Priority Passengers Only" around the Captain's Club? It would've made de-embarkation a lot less confusing for passengers and staff.
Overall - we had a really good time, but it wouldn't have ranked so high if we didn't have the suite of the century to enjoy, especially with priority embarkation and de-embarkation. Unless the route changes, however, with more days in warm seas, we probably wouldn't sail this one again.