It's important to note that we had a change of itinerary due to Tropical Storm Beryl. We were literally going to follow her path, so instead of Halifax, we went to St. John instead. Although I was disappointed, I'd rather be safe and not deal with a serious storm. Our trip back to NYC was very rocky 12 ft. seas/rain - on the way back. Lots of unhappy/sick people. Again, not Carnival's fault - that's the weather!
Embarkation: It was a breeze. Enough said. We left port about ½ hour late, and I suspect this was partly due to the storm because we were following behind it to not make the ride up too rocky.
Stateroom: We were surprised that we were upgraded to a Cat. 11 Suite about a week before we left. It was Stateroom 7262, port side on Empress Deck. It was very large & well equipped. Nice whirlpool tub! Our balcony was huge, plenty of closet space. We're going to be spoiled when we cruise again!
Service: Unbelievable. Our steward, Ketut, was extremely helpful answering all of our stupid questions. He always had a smile on. Our head waiter, Soulaeman and his assistant, Marie An were amazing (we loved Marie An). The bartenders (Muriel rocks) and additional wait staff were fantastic. Anyone who complains (and we saw plenty of them) were, quite frankly, rude to begin with. We find that if you approach anyone with a smile, you get it in return. Some of these folks have been w/ Carnival for 15+ years - they're not new at this. Yes, we were bombarded with the drink special as soon as we got on board, but who cares? If you don't want it, just politely say no. I liked being pampered. It was a nice change of pace. The staff were fantastic.
Activities: My husband and I are very laid back. We don't gamble to speak of and the Hairy Chest Contest/Newlywed Game is not our speed. However, we always could find something to entertain ourselves. This is a cruise that can be as laid back or as out of control as you want it to be. We decided to utilize the Spa because we never treat ourselves to things like that. Beware - it's expensive, probably 40% more than what we pay in CT. This is not a cruise I would recommend to bring kids on - especially middle school/high school. I didn't feel there were a lot of activities for the kids and especially for older kids. There were plenty of kids on the boat, but we have a 16 yr. old and he would've been bored to death on this (and I spoke to a 16 yr. old who was).
Shore Excursions: Again, we were diverted to St. John. Instead of Halifax. Keep in mind, the weather is changeable. That fog horn blows quite a bit! It was 63 degrees, foggy like you wouldn't believe and misty when we went. We took the Highlights and Cruise tour to the reverse falls. It was overpriced - no doubt. Other people weren't pleased. My husband and I love history and asked a lot of questions. It was fine. I like more adventurous excursions, but it was just too cold for me to do the Jet Boat. Would I go back to St. John? Probably not. Nice to say I went, though. The people are very pleasant and I'm sure on a nice day (few and far between apparently) it's beautiful. It's not Carnival's fault the weather stunk and we were diverted.
Dining: Food everywhere! Anyone who expects a 5 star meal needs to bear in mind that Carnival is feeding 3,000 people/night. We had room service 2 x and both times they were right on time. The food was a decent quality. Drinks weren't watered down (far from it w/ our bartender). Anyone who goes home hungry didn't take advantage of all that there was to offer.
Entertainment: I thought Dana, the Cruise Director, was funnier than the comic. The shows were good - just like Vegas shows. The singers were very good. It's a nice diversion. Give 'em lots of credit for dancing when the boat's rocking all over the place.
Debarkation: Again, pretty smooth. Scares me, though, that Security still isn't what I think it should be. We were off the boat and in our car by 8:30. We were back home in CT by 9:45.
Overall, I was very impressed. As I said, I doubt I would do this itinerary w/ my kids, but I wouldn't hesitate to sail Carnival again. There were a lot of older people on this cruise and I think the Fun Ship attitude bothered them to an extent. Me? I just hung out in the Ionian Lounge, listened to some good Jazz, and made my own fun. It is what you make it....
Feel free to email me with any questions! It was a great time!