YIKES! New York departure was terrible. This was our 5th cruise from NY pier. 1 Norwegian, 1 Celebrity and 3 Carnival. Sorry to say all 3 Carnival departures left something to be desired. If you are one of the earliest arrivals, around 11AM for a 4:00 departure, you probably won't agree. But if you arrive at the time they suggest, which is 1 or 1:30, be prepared to stand in a VERY long line. FUN PASS pre registration means nothing! Everyone does it and everyone, other then suites, stand in the same line. On this cruise the power to the kiosks that take your picture and validate your key card went out three separate times and that was just during our 2 hour wait. We heard it went out many times after us also. They only had 3 kiosks, for 2800 passengers. Their reason: there were 3 ships at the pier that day and they had to share the 9 kiosks that the pier has available for their use. Each ship should have had 9 kiosks. We were supposed to depart at 4:00 but we didn't leave until 6:00. Our luggage actually beat us to the cabin.
Cabin and Staff: Our cabin was fine and we have absolutely no complaints with the staff. They are understaffed and that puts a lot of pressure on them so don't expect them to hang around and chat. They do their jobs very well and work VERY hard.
Food and Buffet: The buffet only has 2 lines as stated in other reviews. The Carnival's design of the buffet area is poor. There isn't a large selection but what is available is good. There was a problem with the coffeemakers on this ship. The regular coffee was served in large brown thermal containers that never kept the coffee hot or fresh. It was my first cruise where the coffee was undrinkable. I went to the cafe and ordered latte's (and paid additional for them) when I wanted a cup. I like that they have Gardenburgers (for us Weight Watcher people) along with the Hamburgers and Hot dogs at the Grill. The Main dining room is wonderful and the selections are great. There is a SPA menu for lighter choices and your server will ask for anything to be prepared without all the sauces if you prefer a plainer diet.
Ports and leaving the ship: We arrived in Boston on the second day at 2:00. There was an announcement at 10AM that in order to depart you had to get a sticker. You would not be allowed to get off without this sticker. We finally found where to get the sticker and I am not kidding when I say the line was from one end of the ship to the other. We waited in line (again a LINE on this ship) for an hour and we got #16 sticker. That meant we had to wait for 800 other passengers to get off before they got to us. We had a fishing charter booked and we were to meet the captain at 2:30. Because it wasn't an excursion that we booked thru Carnival we had to wait. We didn't get off until 3:15. Not too pleased about that. We asked if we had to get a sticker to get off in the other ports and they told us "NO, just this one because it was an afternoon arrival?" The ports were fine. Sydney, Nova Scotia is a tiny town and not much to see however, there is a building on the pier where they had a flea market of sorts with local handmade products that was very nice. They also had a duo of guitar players who were singing and you could sit and listen. We enjoyed that before returning to the ship.
Peggy's Cove trip in Halifax was very nice. You really need more time to explore the little town. We took pictures and went in the gift shop but didn't have time to wonder around.
Entertainment: Shows were good and Matt the cruise director was all over the place. Not so Newlywed game was a blast as usual. All passengers are assigned to a Team, Red-White-or Blue, on the first night and you win points for your team by participating in games etc. all week. We had quite a rivalry going between our Blue and the White Team. Alas, we lost by 50 points. The Casino was a place to "play" as always but this time I did win the 2nd slot tournament so I came out ahead. First time for everything!
Debarkation: This was much easier than the beginning of the cruise. You can relax with breakfast in the dining room or stay in your stateroom if you prefer. The only thing they are strict about is telling you not to go to Deck 3, that is the Customs Area. You can go anywhere else!! It's amazing how many people try to go to Deck 3 so they can get off first!! And they are turned back, Thank You Carnival! Once Customs clears everything you are off in no time. You find your luggage by your room tag color and that's it. If our driver hadn't left late to pick us up we wouldn't have waited another 2 hours outside the pier. But that, of course, was not the cruise line's fault...lol.