Flew into Ft. Lauderdale from Chicago, It was cheaper than flying into Miami, even paying the transfer. Transfer was through Carnival, on a bus. Once you go to baggage claim, they are waiting for you. The ride to the port is about 30-45 minutes. Getting to the ship, Embarkation was a bit of a wait, having the Fun Pass filled out did not get us through any faster, both lines were the same. Took us about 1/2 hour to get through it, painless enough. We got there about 12-1230. We got our sign and sail cards, took the picture and were on the ship all in about 1 hour. I did not think that was bad at all.
Our cabin was a 6a Main deck ocean view cabin. I thought the cabin was very roomy, but really have nothing to compare it to. My Mom, who was with me, and cruised before also said that, so I guess it was. We did make a special order for some distilled water for a sleep machine that was not there, and I panicked not having it before we left. After several calls, the water was there. We also needed an extension cord which we got quickly. Room was clean, and ready for us when we got to it. We had lunch on the Lido deck buffet by the pool, but the other buffet was open as well.
I thought the ship was beautiful all the way around. Reading other reviews I was nervous as people said things were worn out, falling apart, etc, however, I saw very little of that, and consider it cosmetic. I mean, the ship constantly has people on it, it should have some wear and tear, however, in every port, was being worked on in one way or another. It is a beautiful ship. Large, I did feel some rocking but nothing to make you sick.
We kept ourselves busy with activities, and Smithy one of the social hosts is just great. We played Bingo (thought somewhat expensive, $20 bucks, for 3 cards, 1 game?) Also other activities such as excursion talks, shopping talks, and also funny games like newlywed game, game show mania, etc. They hand out prizes and free stuff. I figured to have fun, you have to get involved. There is always something going on. We also went to art auction, however a bit pricey for me.
The service was great, we had our table moved in the Paris dining room it was bit too rocky for Mom, we were in back by the window..we were moved to a booth up front, only bad part, by ourselves, and we would rather have been with people to socialize. But our waiters were great, food was ok, Mom said better on Princess, but again, I thought it was good. Breakfast menu did not change, and dinners sometimes were things I could not pronounce, but what can I say!!
San Juan: Did not spend enough time there to give honest opinion; our excursion here was cancelled, so we found a tour guide outside the ship for $10 which brought us everywhere the original one was going to but that one was $37. We were glad it cancelled. This one dropped us off in Old San Juan, the streets and walks are narrow, and not easy to maneuver with a wheelchair, as I encountered as My Mom was in one. It started getting dark, so we headed back to ship, a short walk from Old San Juan. Ship docks at 5, and you have to be back by 1130, so not much you can do really.
St Thomas: Took the Ultimate Island Experience tour. It is in open truck like vehicle. They took us to some sights, let you out to take pictures, and then brought us to Magen's bay, for 2 hours of beach time. It rained part of this time, but the beach is beautiful, and the clearest water you ever did see. After this, they take you to Blackbeard's Hill, where we snapped a few shots (you can tour here more, but not at all wheelchair friendly but they have beautiful pools you can swim in. We left on free shuttle to downtown shopping.Shopping in St Thomas is nice, and great for Jewelry so I hear, but I was not there for that. Did buy some perfume. Cabs downtown are plentiful, so get a cab back to the ship for $4 per person. Did some shopping outside the ship at the Havensight Mall, about 50 shops there. It is very close to ship.
St. Maarten: Took the Island Tour here, It was nice, as the tour guide, spoke the whole time and really filled us in on the Island. We went to French side where we stopped for 1 hour shopped, etc. Then he took us on rest of tour and dropped us at front street for the main shopping. Again, every other store is Jewelry, if that is what you are after. I did see better deals on the perfume here, oh well you never know. I was not aware there was a beach on the opposite side of front street a water taxi ride from the ship and it looked like a nice beach, and I guess you can rent chairs for $ 5 so I was told.
Ship's entertainment was good, hokey at times, but entertaining. The magic show with Kevin and Caruso was good. Best show we saw on the ship. We also enjoyed the legends show, where passengers imitate some big singing stars.
Ship's shops were ok, they claim cheaper than at port, but be careful. I found liquor cheaper, but too much of hassle to go back and get the difference back. Though they do say they will match it. You need written proof, or in my case the digital camera works wonders for instant proof!!
Disembark was easy for us as we had the assistance with wheel chair and by passed all the lines. So, needless to say, got to airport very early for our flight.
As far as Carnival being a "party ship" for younger people, I saw none of that and saw a fair amount of older folks and no rowdiness. It was a nice time. If anything, people need to watch their 10 year and under kids as they were running around the ship and un supervised a lot.
I would recommend this ship to anyone, and make your own opinions. Some people complain about the smallest things, that don't bother some of us. You be the judge, I hope my opinions help you somewhat!!!