Since this is an older ship, I'll keep my review of the ship itself brief.
This was the fourth cruise for my wife and I. This was the second for my 2 boys (8 and 10). We traveled with my mother who has been on more than 10 cruises, but this was the first without dad who passed a year ago. My brother, his wife and my 5 year old nephew were on their first cruise. I did the booking. We wanted to leave from Tampa because mom lives near by in South Pasadena. That left us choosing between a too short Royal Caribbean cruise or similar 7 day Carnival and NCL cruises. Though I've always been a bit leery of Carnival as being a bit cheap and heavy on the party crowd, our last NCL cruise wasn't the best. If it had been our first cruise, we never would have taken another. Carnival it was.
Embarkation- A breeze! The Tampa port facilities are light years better than the NYC terminal we left from in 2 of our previous cruises.
Ship- The interior decoration is a bit haphazard and garish. There are a heck of a lot of urns! It's not too disconcerting and the general layout of the ship is great. I like the (now) smaller size. The pool area was never too crowded and Serenity is a treat. There are some wear issues here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary for 13 years off use. There was some evidence (now scratched out) of vandalism in the elevators and someone (roaming bands of teens?) scratched up the recessed green panels in the 7th deck port hallways on the last night of our cruise (parents must be so proud). Colossus could use some wallpaper glue too. All and all the ship is a beautiful well maintained older resort that I would gladly visit again.
Cabins- We had 7193, 7195, 7199 and 7209. All were spacious for cabins with decoration skewing a little more towards utilitarian than luxurious. The balconies were spacious (60 sq ft) and comfortable even when we crammed 4-5 people on them. There was some rust evident, but work we could see work under way to resolve this on other balconies and the life boat support structures below us. We had no complaints about our room attendants or the service we received. I would happily recommend these cabins to anyone.
Food- Hit or miss, but that was what I expected. The main dinning room experience was made all that much better by having Jeffery and Lau Lau as our wait staff. I'm convinced there's no better waiter at sea. Jeffery remembers everything, does magic tricks for the kids and is a warm individual. Lau Lau is a trip! The buffet was fine when we ate there. With the exception of the last sea day lunch, I never found it too crowded. Way better than our experience on the NCL Spirit. For breakfast, avoid the buffet scrambled eggs and get an omelet or have the omelet attendant make you fresh eggs. The off the grill burgers and dogs were fine too. We dined in the steak house and that was outstanding. The food either met or exceeded all of our expectations.
Favorite thing heard on board. While walking through the buffet area I over heard a lady complaining to her companion that the buffet was the same as lunch. A passing crew member also overheard this and replied "this IS lunch". :)
Entertainment- Not the greatest, but we didn't care. We saw some good comedians and some bad (smart south?). The "Las Vegas" shows were a joke. Start off a show about Jazz with a big band song??? One dancer couldn't, not even close. Like I said, we didn't really care.
Camp Carnival- In a word...GREAT! Our kids loved going, they were open most of the of the time (as opposed to our last NCL cruise) and the staff was outstanding. Beyond the fun and games, they actually taught math and science.
The ports we already covered so..
Debarkation- Not Carnivals fault, but we were delayed several hours due to fog. For many on board, this meant missed planes (my brothers family). For us it meant...another day at sea! Drinking light lit and hang out by the pool. We were happy, I'm betting those waiting for the next cruise, not so much. Once docked, it was smooth sailing home.
Conclusion- The combination of ship, crew and family made this one of if not the best vacation I've ever had. My trepidation about Carnival were unfounded. My brother who had a low opinion of cruising going in, is already planning his next cruise. This blows our last NCL Spirit cruise out of the water, the comparison makes NCL look so bad. Many here say that you get out of a cruise what you bring in? I guess we brought a heck of a good time with us then. Is it perfection? Of course not! But if you go without lofty expectations, the Legend will leave you feeling...legendary! My only regret is that I'm not on her right now!