This was my 12th cruise and 2nd on Carnival. It was a graduation present for my 18 yr. old nephew, and it was his first cruise. I chose Carnival for the price and his age. We took a train from New Jersey to Penn Station, then a taxi to the pier. The meter read $7.30. Not bad!
Embarkation: It took 1.5 hrs for us to board. First we waited in a general seating area, then stood in line to check in. The boarding pass they tell you to print and bring with you wasn't needed nor accepted when offered. The quite surly gentleman checking us in said "It's all in the computer". So why print it in the first place? After that we had to wait in another line for picture taking for our Sign and Sail cards. Finally on the ship, aft deck 2, 4 elevators, 2 of which were being held for luggage. No staff to give direction.
Cabin: I had booked an oceanview guarantee and was upgraded from 5A to 6B, a cabin as far forward as you can get. The size was adequate, the bathroom with plenty of space for toiletries. There was a nice basket of free samples. One of the odd things about my cabin was that there wasn't a night table. I have never stayed anywhere that didn't have a night table. There were 2 stools in the room so I appropriated one of them.
Food: The food was generally good, but not excellent. We ate dinner in the Paris Dining room. The wait staff was fine, but the food wasn't gourmet. It was obvious they were cutting costs with watered down soup and sour cream that poured like milk. No freshly ground pepper. The South Beach Club on the Lido deck was the home of the buffet breakfasts and lunch as well as the NY Deli and Hong Kong Noodle Co. I didn't try either of those. The buffet offerings were not exceptional and not hot when they should be. I've had better on other cruiselines. The pizza was excellent, however, and available 24 hrs. a day.
Entertainment: The entertainment was good. There were 2 production shows that were very good and a magic show that was exceptional. The cruise director Matt was also very good.
Activities: The usual onboard activities were offered including many games of Bingo and the men's hairy chest contest. The huge water slide was popular with the kids.
Ports: We called at St. John's, New Brunswick, and Halifax. Both were very pleasant days, helped by great weather. Canadians are very friendly. We arrived in St. John's on the July 4th and when we disembarked, the ladies were all handed roses, the men got lapel pins, and there was a 'Birthday cake' in honor of our Independence Day. In Halifax, we were met by a group of bagpipers.
Disembarkation: We opted for the 'self-assist' debarkation which meant we handled our own luggage. We gathered in the Rome Lounge, deck 3, and were off the ship by 8:15am!
Carnival offers a good value for the money and is definitely good for young cruisers. The quality of service and food is not what I am used to on lines that are in the same price range but a bit more upscale. Would I cruise on Carnival again? Probably not. Unless it was an incredibly good offer, I'll stick to other lines.