The day before the cruise we stayed at Howard Johnson's on Harborside drive about 5 miles from the port. The positives were that the price was very reasonable, and they allowed us to park the car there for free. Discount Cruise Parking is right across the street and we used them to shuttle us to the port and back. I shuttled all the luggage to the port, came back and picked up the other 6 people and dropped them at the port as well, then shuttled myself to the port $10 round trip, bought a return for my wife as well. 5 others used the Carnival shuttle back to Houston Hobby. That all work out wonderfully as on our return we were back to our car by 8 AM. The downside to the hotel was that a freight train ran along the side of the hotel and laid on the horn forever, every hour all night long. Little sleep was to be had. The other downside was the carpet was filthy. It looked fine until you looked at your socks after walking around.
We headed to the port at around 11:00 and they started boarding at about 12:15. We had just achieved platinum this cruise, we were one of the first on the ship and first at the Red Frog Pub. They rewarded us with free beer. We were on the cruise with our daughter, son in law, and 3 grand kids. We both had Cove Balconies side by side. They are what I consider the best value on the Magic, Breeze, and Dream. we headed to the buffet since we had not eaten all day. I found the food your typical buffet food and since I never eat there except for the first day getting on the ship, I really can't offer an opinion.
Our Cabin Steward Niar was fantastic, he met our every need, was friendly, talkative, and made every Towel animal requested by the grand kids. We could not have been more pleased by his service.
Our Dining Staff was fantastic, Starting with the Maitre'D, Ante, we had requested a table on the main floor of the dining room. He placed us in the center of the floor at the bottom of the staircases, we could not have asked for better. One night he sent champagne to our table, another night to our cabin as well as chocolate covered strawberries on another night. Ricardo and Hadi, our waiters were efficient, timely, and anticipated our needs and wants. Great service and showed special interest to the grand kids, even showing them magic tricks. The Southern Lights dinning room also had a waiter that sang two songs every night at dinner and had fantastic voice. That alone added so much to the dinning and cruise experience. The food and selections was pretty much the Carnival fare that we are used to. They were good, but did not wow you.
I found the entertain staff to be a lot of fun, the performance by Drew as Beyonce in the Legends show was unbelievable funny. The comedians in the Punchliner were very funny and entertaining. The show Destination Unknown is not to be missed.
We literally had to drag the grand kids out of Camp Carnival and Circle C every night. The all made friends and were very entertained by the staff in both. They loved the water slides and the Sky Walk. We had an expectations and safety talk with them prior to the cruise and they gave us no trouble. The moved about the ship freely and at no time did we seem to have to worry about them. Ages 11, 13, and 14. They had the memory of a lifetime.
This was our 12 cruise, 10th with Carnival and I can only give opinion as to our experience on this cruise. I have to say this was one of our best all around. This ship and crew really has it together!