Embarkation: Embarkation in Charleston was fairly efficient. The only problem we encountered was waiting to get into the parking areas before we got on the ship. We had to line up on a side street outside the Port of Charleston. It was a bit of a cluster to do this, but once the parking started it went pretty quickly. We went through the embarkation process pretty quickly and painlessly. The staff was very nice.
Cabin: Our cabin was on the Main Deck and we had an oceanview cabin. Let me say, Carnival probably has some of the largest cabins I've seen. It was spacious by cruise ship standards. Our cabin steward was the best! He made sure every request was fulfilled, no matter how trivial. The room was cleaned at least 2-3 times per day. The bathroom was fairly roomy and the amenities provided were a plus. A nice assortment of shampoo, toothpaste, razors, etc. We were towards the middle of the deck, so we had an extremely smooth ride. The towel animals were a neat treat each night!
Dining: This is one area we were extremely disappointed with. I cannot say Carnival's food is good - merely average. There was plenty of it, but not the quality we experienced with Celebrity. Dinner was rushed every night. We had the late seating, and the waiters seemed to be rushing us so they could finish for the night. The Mediterranean Restaurant was so-so. We actually had a problem finding service when the ship was in port. It seems they let a lot of their employees go ashore, and there weren't many on the boat to help. A lot of the food lines and beverage stations were closed. This is one area they definitely need to improve.
Service: With the exception of our cabin steward, I can't say we had outstanding service. We often waited 30-45 minutes while on deck for a drink. We actually had some of the servers tell us no when we asked for something specific. This is unheard of on Celebrity - your wish is their command. One of our helpers for our cabin steward told me they didn't have valet service for the laundry - which was wrong. Our cabin steward promptly and quite emphatically corrected her on that. When we asked servers for something, instead of saying they would get it for you they would say it's "two decks down" or something like that.
Ports: We stopped in Freeport and Nassau. Freeport has had a lot of hurricane damage and is obviously struggling to recover. We went to the Port Lucaya shopping area, which was nice and went to the casino there. Other than that, there is not a whole lot to do in Freeport. We thoroughly enjoyed Nassau, though. Lots of shopping and sightseeing. We took a tour which was not affiliated with the ship - which some say is a no-no. But, I will say our driver Anthony showed us some sights we probably wouldn't have seen with a tour from the ship. I would have liked to have had another day in Nassau.
Shore excursions: We didn't take any, but our friends did. They recommended the jeep ride thing. Said they had a blast. Our other friends did the Blackbeard snorkeling thing and said it was okay. They felt rushed and did not have time to enjoy everything.
Entertainment: We saw a tremendous magic show one evening. The magician was fabulous and really worked to include the audience. Overall, the entertainment was very good.
Debarkation: This was a mess. They called two decks to do the self service debarkation, and then it was another hour before we heard anything else. My husband went to check to see what was going on, and found out they were getting ready to open the debarkation to everyone, so we beat feet down to avoid the mass exodus. They need to be a bit more organized about this.
Overall impression: We had a great time and a good vacation. Carnival has some good points and some bad. I will say I probably won't cruise with them again unless I find an extraordinary deal. The service and dining aspects of the cruise are important to me, and Carnival just didn't live up to my expectations.