Decided to go with Carnival after all the media hype about how great this was and unfortunately it did not meet up to all its claims.
Embarkation: was great, we were through the doors and into our cabin in a matter of around 20 minutes, no fuss, no hassles...nice and smooth.
Cabin 5156: Was advertised as an obstructed view cabin, we were expecting not to have a view so we were delighted when we entered and found that the obstruction was only a tender which came up to the rails and that we actually had great views for the price we had paid. Rooms were beautifully clean, a good size with plenty of storage. Our room steward Gusti was fantastic, always remembered our names, left us towel animals every night and turned our beds down then left us chocolates on the pillow, there was nothing that was ever a bother to him.
Sail away party: huh? to me this is one of the highlights of a cruise but it was non existent on this cruise. Muster was long and drawn out, standing on the deck for ages before it started, this proved to be pretty hard especially for young Mothers holding babies and older passengers who find standing for long periods difficult.
Kids: Oh my!!! Kids everywhere!!! 800 I believe on this cruise. Knocking on doors, knocking people sideways as they run down the stairs, knocking on cabin doors at all hours of the morning, forcing their way into elevators as people were trying to get off. It was like parents had gotten on the ship and forgotten that they had a responsibility towards supervising their kids and many (of course not all) parents seemed to believe that their children were more entitled than anyone else on the ship and were allowed to be rude, disrespectful and say and do what ever they wanted.
Security: Another huh? Security either do not know anything about managing incidents or the fact that there seem to be so few it is safer for them just to walk away, this is something I witnessed on 3 occasions when drunks and children were being hostile and verbally abusive to others, unfortunately this meant that the general population who security was supposed to be protecting were left to their own defenses which I can not blame them for and there seemed to be so few and there appeared to be no backup for them. It was rare to actually see them. Many females I spoke to in the smokers area commented about not feeling safe at night on deck by themselves due to drunk, inappropriate young men and with no security in sight. People continue to get served alcohol even when their intoxication levels are obviously extremely high.
Casino.....lots of signs saying adults only but parents and staff don't seem to be able to read, one young chap around 13 was the lucky winner of $300 and on many occasions the kids were sitting at poker machines with their parents or in groups with their peers and no one said anything.
Serenity lounge was lovely but again the no kids rule was not enforced so we didn't bother after our first visit there.
Dining: reasonable amount of choice in the buffet, the dining room was pretty good. I would not rave about the food but I would not have a lot of negatives to say either, it was basic and plentiful.
Drinks: pretty reasonably priced, ran out of coke on the second last day but no biggie unless you wanted a mixed drink with coke.
Day spa: There was a fire in the spa on our cruise so it needed to be shut down till things were under control, I had a bamboo massage which was lovely, the prices are pretty high compared to on land.
Tours: we went on the WW2 tour at Santo which was great, although didn't take any other Carnival tours due to the high price tags.
Entertainment: Water slides only operate when in port. While there are lots of activities listed for you to do while on board they cater mainly to.......well I don't really know who they cater to, I was going to say kids but I don't think kids would bother with towel folding, paper plane making, napkin folding....a lot of activities were what I would describe as trivial and meaningless to the majority of people. Bingo was fun although the machines did not work on most sessions or broke down, time for a new computer considering how much money bingo must make the cruise line.
The shows were ok and entertainers were enthusiastic. Stu the entertainment director was boring, spoke to people like they were all 5 years old...he was not very entertaining. The piano bar in a must do, the piano player is awesome, very entertaining and really knows how to connect with the people he is entertaining...if you decide to go make sure you go and sit around his piano with him for a sing along.
Staff in general are a credit to the cruise line, they work hard all the time, the majority and friendly, smile and great you every time they see you. They are constantly cleaning although I think that there should be some bins around the ship as unfortunately these staff have to pick up rubbish off the floor constantly that guests have discarded due to there being no bins anywhere.
Disembarkation: We had carnival transfers which were great, we were out the door, on the bus and on our way to our terminal in no time at all.
Overall: We went with our main objective being to relax and unwind and while we certainly came back feeling refreshed the negatives outweighed the positives on this ship for us. The lack of activities for intelligent adults was frustrating. While I really like kids (got a couple of my own) and understand their need to have some freedom, on this cruise there were just too many with not enough supervision on board. Security or lack of was very concerning for me and many other women on board. Drunk underage teenagers and kids in adult areas was also concerning so with that in mind I would not cruise with Carnival again and to be honest I would not recommend Carnival to anyone I know as I think it is only a matter of time before Carnival has a major incident because of the negatives.