We arrived at the pier early so embarkation was not too bad. We were only in line about 10 minutes. Once on board, the first crew member that met us said we could proceed our cabin if we wished as it was ready. The next one we saw told us that it wasn't ready and that we should go to the Lido deck and wait until we were told we could go to our cabin. We spent about 45 minutes on the Lido deck and decided to try to find our cabin. To our surprise, it was ready. We didn't expect our luggage until after we had sailed but were surprised again when it showed up about an hour after we went to the cabin. We have cruised on the Elation and the Rhapsody of the Seas out of Galveston and this was by far the fastest we had boarded or received our luggage.
The food was only fair as was the dinning room staff. The exception was when we had dinner in the Point. This is truly an exceptional dining experience I would recommend to everyone. The food is excellent, the presentation exceptional and the staff five-star. The point is well worth the extra cost.
The entertainment was generally a disappointment. The comedians told jokes I had read on the internet, the magician's tricks didn't work at times and the guests were used too often as performers. The dancers did put on an excellent show based on the music of Paris even though the cruise director said it was "rock & roll".
The "art auctions" are a waste of time. The starting bids are too high and with few exceptions, you could find better art at any "starving artist" show.
Unless you like to stay up late I don't recommend the Upper Deck. Our cabin was located over the Latour Bar which is across from Henri's Dance Club. The bass from the dance music could not only be heard but also felt until the wee hours of the morning. I suggest at least one cabin deck between you and the Promenade Deck if you go to bed before 1 A.M.
If you plan on using the internet and are not a smoker take a gas-mask. You must go through Alfred's Bar to get to the Internet Cafe. That's where the cigar smokers hang out. (cough)
Our cabin steward was great! Our cabin was clean and made-up when we got back from breakfast no matter when we went and the bed turned down when ever we returned from dinner. Of course Henry also made the towel animals we look forward to on a cruise.
Carnival has come up with what they call a "travel club" where you buy "points" that can be used on future cruises that allow you to save a little over full price. Be prepared for a full-court press to sell you on the "club". And of course, you can only join while you are on board. That puts up a big red flag to me automatically. For some reason, this cruise seemed all about selling me something from the beginning. Maybe they all have been and I just didn't notice before.
Disembarkation was a nightmare. For some reason, Carnival decided to let the non-US citizens and crew off first. Of course most of the crew are also not US citizens. It takes a lot more time for non-US people to clear customs and immigration so unless you had decided the night before to take all your own luggage off with you, you were stuck on the ship until after 2 PM. Several people missed flights because of this and those of us with long drives got home very late. Carnival tried to blame this mess on customs and immigration but they are not the ones who decide who gets off the boat first.