Bottom Line: Great ship for families, beautiful decor, and generally good service. A few things that need tweaking, but overall, a great vacation!
We flew in 2 days pre-cruise and stayed in Sunny Isles at the Thunderbird- purchased on Priceline. It has a great location right on the beach and very convenient shopping and restaurants nearby, but the hotel itself is dated. That didn't stop anyone from enjoying themselves- it was full of tourists from all over- but keep it in mind. That said, it was clean and steps from the beach.
Embarkation was a breeze. I dropped off the family (5) at the port at 10, returned the car and was back by 10:45. Waited just a short while and was on the ship eating a Guys burger by 11:45.
We had a 4J inside cabin on the Lido deck. This is the inside cabin with a window facing the very forward deck that is rarely used. Our cabin happened to be a handicap cabin that we upgraded to at the last minute (it was not needed as a HC cabin). Cabin was AWESOME for the price. Very large and the big window with the view out the front of the ship was great. We rarely saw people on the deck out front so privacy really wasn't an issue. Being on the Lido deck was very convenient. I liked being close to the pools and buffet as well as being close to camp carnival. Our room steward was the best we've ever had (in 12 cruises!). Attentive and friendly and truly interested in making your stay special.
We had early dining and a table for 6 (2 families of 3 cruising together). Our waitress and her team were S L O W and not interested in engaging with us. After the second night we switched to anytime dining and had quicker service, but we missed the chumminess you often get with your waitstaff with traditional dining. But it beat being ignored waitstaff while waiting for your dinner when all the tables around you were getting dessert. No one else I chatted with had issues with a their waiter team...perhaps they were new?
The decor of the ship itself is beautiful. I am thrilled it no longer looks like a Casino throughout the entire ship! Clean lines, bright colors, and overall happy feeling everywhere. Very nice! If you loved the old style of Carnival you may think it is "underdone", but otherwise you will like it.
Activities on the ship were OK...my daughter (8) loved the thrill theater, waterpark,arcade and Hasbro game show. There is also a ropes course, mini-golf, and much more for kids. Adults like the many games of trivia, great deck parties, great movies on the pooldeck. Few minor issues- they need a bigger popcorn maker for all the people who want/need popcorn. The comedy acts need to be in a bigger showroom or happen twice as often. Also, we missed seeing some sort of variety show in the main lounge. Production shows aren't my thing (although we saw The Brits and enjoyed it) but I have always enjoyed the random juggler, magician, or whatever they would have.
Grant Turk port is a wonderful beach day- no need to do anything besides walk off the ship and into the sand! Yeah! Stayed on board at Montego Bay (BTDT).
Food quality is really a personal issue, but overall I thought it was quite good. I loved the variety...couldn't possibly try it all....and hot food was hot, cold was cold. Not the "best I ever ate anywhere" but I always found tasty food. Indian, seafood, guys burgers, and soup was especially good.