We stayed the night before in Cocoa at the America's Best Value Inn (was the Econo Lodge)for their park and cruise package. The hotel wasn't great, but for the price considering you get the hotel room, breakfast, transport to and from the port and free parking for the week, it was a good deal. We took this cruise last year and stayed at the Comfort Inn in Cocoa Beach for their park and cruise. The hotel was much nicer and the transport to the cruise was more organized, but the rate was considerably more.
After we got of the van, the embarkation went very smoothly without any lines. At this port, Carnival is very efficient.
Activities- The activities were standard cruise fair. We don't participate in many of the activities around the main pool as we prefer to relax and read therefore, we hang out on the Serenity deck or on the aft pool area.
Service- This is the where I felt that Carnival had cut back. Our state room was completely skipped on the first night. The public restrooms where not cleaned throughout the day as they had been last year. We never saw our cabin steward, but they did keep the room clean and changed towels every morning and evening (except the 1st).
The service in the Lido dining room and the main dining room were excellent.
Food- The food was again very good. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Lido and dinner in the main dining room. We enjoy the different selection of foods they offer in the Lido. My husband loves omelets, so he got one every morning. I wanted to eat lunch in the Crimson dining room on one of the sea days, but they only serve brunch, not a true lunch.
Entertainment- This year the entertainment was not as enjoyable. The dancers were great, but the female singer was so loud, that one couldn't understand her and you had to wear earplugs or leave with a headache. This was not only myself, but I heard many people complaining about the volume of the singer.
We often went out to the atrium after the show and listened to the singers/keyboard player. One couple (younger from Taiwan?)was very good, but the other was not.
State room - We had a inside room on the 8th deck. It was ok, no chair or sofa. We had a porthole room last year and it was much more roomy and I think cheaper.
Shore excursions- We took a pre-booked shore excursion with Explore Cruise and Travel for St.Thomas and we thought it was a good experience and worth the cost.
However, at all of these ports, one can get a local tour when you get off the ship at the port - no need to pay the high cruise shore excursion prices.
Disembarkation - The process was well organized, it just that many came down to the waiting area before they need to and wanted to leave before their group was called. The luggage was well organized and easy to find. Going through customs took a fair amount of time.
Summary- We enjoyed the cruise, but would prefer one with more ports. Again, we could tell that Carnival is cutting expenses. We were invited to the cocktail party for past Carnival cruisers last year, but this year, one had to have had at least 25 cruise days with Carnival to get an invitation.