I just got back from the cruise yesterday and checked cruise critic to see if any of my fellow passengers did a review. I saw two reviews that were both mostly-positive. I was surprised.
Embarking/Debarking - no complaints here. Considering it was New York and 3000 people were trying to board a ship at the same time, it went smoothly and the staff was very friendly.
We had a fairly nice balcony room. I found the room to be overall clean, but the bedding was a bit worn and the towels in the bathroom were down-right gross. They looked like used locker-room towels and were smelly. What was disappointing was our noisy neighbors. We were noisy too with the kids, but they were on the up-all-night partying schedule, and that was annoying. The walls between the rooms are paper-thin. I am not sure why they design them that way, I suppose to be light.
The food - in a word, disappointing. The buffet closed at 6:30pm, so the only thing for dinner was the grill (same fried crap) or the dining room. Not sure why the buffet wasn't open for normal dinner hours. But it doesn't matter. The various stations were not very impressive. The food was either unimaginative or just bland. I also noticed that the dining room served the exact same food that was in the buffet for lunch. I thought they could do better.
The Problem with New York: It's great to be so close to the cruise port, but let's face it, we're annoying people here in the North East. The crowd was a mix of CT, NY and NJ. Many guests were pushy and rude.
Lastly, the ports were terrible. It's not carnival's fault it's cold in January, but the two stops in the Bahamas stunk. Cheap shopping off the ship and anything remotely interesting was an expensive cab fare.
I have been on four Carnival cruises and this was by far the worst. If you are a regular cruiser you will notice the places that Carnival has started to cut corners. If I list them out I will sound ultra-picky, but I am not. It's the little things that add up to one great cruise, and this one fell short too many little things (and a few big ones).