Overall our cruise was great. I traveled with my DH and 2 sons (13 and 14). They were new to cruising. I enjoyed the "party" atmosphere and laid back style of Carnival. Was glad that it wasn't "out-of-hand" though (the partying onboard).
Embarkation- was very easy and fast to get through. We were able to go right to our cabin since we did not arrive until about 1:30pm.
Food: Lines at Lido can be very busy depending on when you go. Mongolian Wok always had a line. Food was pretty good up there but typical buffet line food. The made-to-order omelets in the morning were great. I like having the fries and chicken tenders when ever you want- pretty yummy. The Posh restaurant had "brunch" on the sea days and the Huevos Rancheros were outstanding. My DH and I had never had them and we loved them. We had "anytime dining" for dinner and as much as I like the flexibility of showing up when you want- I prefer the service you receive when you have the same wait staff for the entire cruise. You can request the same server but you may have to wait quite a bit if he is unavailable. We did have one GREAT waiter- and if you can request "Suki" - then I recommend him- he was great. Otherwise we never had a "wait" for anytime dining like I have read others having. The food at dinner was for the most part very good. We were never hungry that is for sure. Don't be afraid to order more than one thing from the selections- they are used to it and that way if you aren't thrilled with one thing you have a back up. But you do have to order "everything" all at once- it's a long trip to the kitchen :) Also- we did use room service a couple of times- They have a shrimp salad on the menu that I did not see anywhere on the Lido and it is sooo good. So is the tuna and the BLT's...wishing I had room service right about now.
Service: This is where Carnival may need some work. It wasn't bad, but not great. A few were snippy (not to me, but I overheard), a lot of them were very hard to understand. Other cruise lines I have been on I didn't have such hard time, maybe a few people, but on this cruise I could barely understand the majority. I did not feel like the wait staff in the dining rooms really knew how to give "good" service. It was very methodical and ingenious. Some of the bars were SLOW- and they would have no one waiting. I thought cruise lines made a lot of money from drinks- so I was surprised that they weren't on their toes at the bars.
Kids- My sons both went to Circle C. One was out every night until it ended at 1 AM and he had a blast. They had a dance party every night from 9-10pm at the 70's Disco that they liked. Game room will suck up money fast- had to put a $50 limit on my son's acct. They could use some new games in there.
Entertainment: DH and I enjoyed the shows and the Love and Marriage game. I thought the Cruise Director "Hennie" was good. My husbands favorite part of the cruise was going to the Piano Bar to sing along with Marty. He is very fun and the crowd has a great time. The comedians were good. Kids and us all enjoyed the Ticket to Ride - Beatles show.
Pools and hot tubs were fine- except one was luke warm. Waterslide fine- kindof slow. Serenity area is nice.(for over 21yrs age) Deck chairs are hard to find on at-sea days. Last day I finally set my alarm for early and went and slept up on deck just to save 2 chairs.
Disembarkation- we did self-assist. This is where you carry off all of your own luggage. It went right along and customs was a breeze.
We used "Park and Go"- for our car- shuttles were plenty and quick. service good and if you book online ahead of your trip it is much cheaper than other places.
Overall we all enjoyed ourselves. 3 of the 4 say they would cruise again and with Carnival. 4th said no- probably because he did get very sick one day (either something he ate or the motion of the boat or both) But he is also 14 and as teenagers are- he has to be the opposite of his parents and brother. Trip was a good value for the money and we enjoyed the ship and the ports we went to.