An excellent experience. Flew into Miami, took the R&G Shuttle to the port (which was EXCELLENT - $7 per person, provided excellent, proactive service, on-time, clean, safe, 2 vans with trailers - we were extremely pleased). Port described below (experience was good).
Went up to the buffet immediately - there was plenty of seating, all parts of the buffet were open (hamburgers, pizza, deli and Mongolian BBQ included in addition to the standard buffet). Food was very good - I didn't personally eat at the buffet often - opting for the more relaxed dining room - but, there was great variety, the lines (except for the Mongolian BBQ) were always reasonable. A great plus is that you can always get ice cream (this is not true on RCL - ice cream is 10-6 on at least the Monarch of the Seas - which is really disappointing).
Safety briefing was given in the lounges and then we walked out onto the deck to see the lifeboats - much nicer than standing stacked, racked and packed on the deck while everyone ambles out there and while all of the instructions are given.
We had the early seating for dinner. The food was great - good variety offered every day and several special starters/dinners/desserts offered each night - including lobster and prime rib (which were offered on the same night). We got to try some new things (from their didja section - (did you ever)) - like Alligator Fritters. Chocolate Melting Cake was offered every night - but, I opted for the key lime pie one night and the baked Alaska another night. My vegetarian companions always found plenty to order and never complained about the quality - including the tofu steak on the last evening (which they loved).
The wait staff entertained us with a dance every single night - and were a really fun group.
Enjoyed breakfasting in the dining room much more than the buffet - the service was quick, and not having to run around and get drinks in one place, fruits in another, eggs - you get the idea ... We even ate breakfast in the dining room on debarkation day and that was a GREAT idea - so much more relaxed than the rush that exists in the buffet.
For lunches I used the buffet - pizza or fries or salad - all super.
We were four people to an interior room ... they were not large, but they were adequate. The showers were hot and the were set up in such a way that the shower curtain didn't attack us. Rooms were open by 1:30 on the first day and the room attendants were competent and unobtrusive. They responded quickly to any requests and if you didn't need them, you really didn't know that they were there - except for the straightened room/cool daily towel animals. If we had been a foursome that spent a great deal of time in the room - then we would have felt cramped - but, we pretty much used them to shower/sleep and didn't have any issues.
I was pleased with the storage - there were 3 closets, a safe, 4 or 5 shelves in the middle closet and hanging storage on the left/right closets. The desk had makeup mirrors over it and 4 drawers for storage. There was only ONE outlet, so I was glad that I brought a surge protector with a long cord - which we ran along the wall and sat on a chair as a charging station for Tablets/Phones. There were a couple of hooks to hang sweatshirts/hats on. Carnival provides bathrobes in the room and gives you pool/beach towels in the room as well.
O2 Teen Club ... SUPERIOR. All of the older teens were absolutely thrilled with the activity directors that ran the events. Night and day from the Royal Caribbean Cruise that my daughter had been on two weeks before. They had varied activities - they were flexible - they listened to what the teens wanted to do. While the girls enjoyed dancing, they didn't want to just dance in O2 - they were thrilled with the scavenger hunts, the dodge ball, the board games, etc.
Circle C younger Teen Club ... Boring. The kids went the first day, and they met other kids their age - but, they rarely went to the club - all of the kids hung out and did things on their own during the sea day.
Nightime shows - the costumes on the women, especially in the first 10 minutes of the show are shockingly revealing (flesh covered bikinis ...) - I was just as glad that my 14 year old son was not in attendance. The music/dancing and singing were just great. Both lead singers were excellent. The shows were high energy - especially the second one (last night of the cruise). The dancers love what they are doing and it shows. And, after the first 10 minutes the costumes are very well done. The music in the shows was varied enough to appeal to a wide range of ages/styles.
Comedy - lackluster. The ventriloquist was good - I definitely laughed a lot during his part of the show, but the other comedian that was with him for the family friendly show while somewhat funny - had so many sexual innuendos in his act that, again, I was just as glad the boy was at home. I have seen EXCELLENT family friendly comedy on carnival in the past and I was disappointed this trip. I did NOT attend the Adults Only comedy - mostly because I was there was a large group of teens.
Dancing - lots of options. When I was walking around rounding up teens at night - I was surprised by the amount of people in the different bars/clubs - dressed to the nines and obviously having a great time. The adults in my group enjoyed the 80s dancing on one night and joined in the deck dance party another night.
Library was stocked with tons of games - but, the hours were minimal - so, you needed to go down during the open time and sign out the game that you wanted - parcheesi, checkers, chess, scrabble, pictionary - there were A LOT of games there.
Deck behavior - was ... interesting. Much more lewd than I have witnessed on other ships - the break dancing contest had 9 year old participants AND 25 year old women participants. I found it disturbing to watch a women basically do a stripper dance (mostly facing the men standing at one end of the stage) while the youngsters were waiting to do their dance on the other end of the stage. If it had been adults only - then who cares - but, when the youngsters are there - I think that the cruise director's staff owes it to them to keep the behavior reasonable.
The ping pong tables, mini golf, and water slide were always well-used, sometimes crowded. It takes newbies a little bit to realize that they have to go to the pool deck to get the paddles/balls/clubs ... sometimes the information does not flow quickly.
The Serenity (adults only deck area) was cramped - there were lots of comfortable chairs and a jacuzzi - but not enough space to really feel relaxed because everyone was on top of each other. There were some really great seating areas outside the buffet - and, the weather was gorgeous - so they also were well used.
There were lots of activities, but there could have been more. And, there seemed to be an affinity for Michael Jackson (thriller dance class, MJ trivia, the 80s dance was 1/2 MJ). What surprised me was the number of raffles for useful items that happened at different areas on different days. The Spa had a relatively quick orientation that if you went to you could get a raffle ticket and when you went back for the drawing they gave away about 5 different prizes from about $75 to $200 ... There was a bit of a catch - the cheapest item on the $100 prize was $107 - but seriously - it was a GREAT deal if it was something that you would enjoy anyway. One of our party won the $100 gift certificate. And someone in our party won a bracelet as well at a different drawing. And, there were at least 3 other drawings.
Photos - tons and tons of opportunities. Price was steep ... $21.95 for the first 8x10 ... but, if you consider what a sitting fee would cost - it isn't a bad deal. The photographers worked hard to get a good pose and there were a lot of backgrounds every night.
Drinks were available everywhere, but the atmosphere from the cruise director was not push, push, push the alcohol - and, the staff was courteous if you didn't want to drink and attentive if you did. The kids actually appreciated that they did not hear about it constantly.
Bingo was available and from what I could tell fun - but, you did not want to tear off any parts of the cards (even the free space) because that invalidated the card ... those that didn't know that were ... angry. They were told at the beginning though ... so ... can't really fault the staff.
There was an Afternoon Tea in one of the rooms that was worthwhile on the Sea Day - nice sandwiches, good selection of tea and various desserts.
The music all over the ship was good - and, there were several karaoke opportunities - some all ages, some adults only, and the teens had at least one session.
Nassau - easy to get on/off the ship. Kids enjoyed the straw market and in the afternoon we took the $4 taxi over to the beach at paradise island (we call it cabbage beach). The beach was ROUGH - much more than it had been two weeks prior. Perhaps because it was high tide ... it was so rough that when we got to the beach there were lots of people in the water, but 30 minutes later - everyone had moved out. One little girl had to be rescued and a young adult male (20?) got flipped and spun around and had to be dragged out by his buddies ...
Even the locals that usually have jet skis and banana boats were not there.
Debarkation was ok. It went well, but it is always frustrating to have to carry your bags up 3 flights and to move like a herd of cattle. But, the crew did a nice job of informing people what they were supposed to be doing (not that the people necessarily followed the rules ...) We had an early flight, so we left as the self-assisters were leaving. If only the people who did not have early flights could have waited another 15 minutes, it would have gone a litte more smoothly. Overall - we were still off the ship before 8:40 - and, our R&G shuttle was outside waiting on us :-).