We used to cruise a lot until we had kids, then we stopped. This was our first cruise in 10 years, with 3 boys ages 3-9.
There was a pretty long line at the Baltimore terminal. We waited over half an hour. We had 3 cabins for 6 people because Carnival wasn't allowing more than 2 people to be booked in one cabin when I booked (just one week before the cruise). There weren't many options so I ended up getting rooms that weren't close to each other. That was a bad idea, and I will never do that again.
The rooms were a decent size and clean. Our cabins stewards did a good job and made us many towel animals which the kids enjoyed.
We wanted to make use of Camp Carnival for the kids, but it was so disorganized, especially for the young kids. I stood in line for almost an hour the first day to sign my 3 year old in, only to realize after I go in that they had 30 kids with only 3 adults to watch them. I asked them if there was a maximum kid to crew member ratio, and they said no. Many of the kids were sitting alone crying. So needless to say, I did not leave my 3 year old there. The other 2 boys went in the first day, but didn't want to go back afterwards either. Some of the employees working the check-in for the kids camp were really unfriendly. It was like they wanted to be anywhere but there.
We ate dinner at the dining room every night. The food was not bad, but not that good either. Our waiter was elderly. He and the assistant waiter missed multiple parts of our order on multiple days. I wasn't sure if they didn't hear the orders right, or didn't understand them? A few times, I would ask them what the fish was or what the entree was if it wasn't clearly stated in the menu, but they weren't able to explain it either. And from past cruises, I was used to my water glass being filled before it was ever less than half full. On this cruise, we had to ask for more water every night. The service just wasn't as good as on other cruise lines.
The buffet area was a mess. We had to hunt for a spot each time we went. A group of people actually took our table when we went to get food, and they didn't seem the least bit apologetic when we came back. The multiple lines for different foods was really annoying, because I kept having to get in new lines to get what the boys wanted. The hamburgers were extremely overcooked each time. The pizza line was so long that we never got any. The Chinese food didn't taste like Chinese food. My husband was disappointed by the lack of good pancakes, french toast, and waffles. We even went to the dining room for breakfast to see if that was any better, but it wasn't. The ice cream machines were nice. I was never able to figure out where the sushi was.
We rented a car at Port Canaveral and went to Cocoa Beach. It was crowded. At Nassau, we did the day pass with room at the Sheraton Cable Beach, which was nice. The water was really cold, but the kids enjoyed the heated pool. On the Freeport day, we were awakened by the captain's announcement that we wouldn't be docking at Freeport because it wasn't safe. The funny thing was, the ocean looked a lot calmer that day than the 2 ship days getting down to the Bahamas. Were were told by the crew that this was not uncommon - to not dock at one of the locations on the itinerary. This itinerary is awful, not enough time to actually do much at each port. But we chose this because we could go out of Baltimore and the price was right.
This ship seemed to move a lot. It was pretty bad on the way down, but even on relatively calm days, you could feel the ship vibrating and rocking from side to side.
The entertainment was o.k. The shows weren't very good, but the comedians were. However, the last 2 nights of comedy were cancelled because they were able to pick up the comedians in Freeport. There honestly wasn't a whole lot to do on this ship, unless you like bingo, gambling, or karaoke. This was spring break, so there were tons of kids on the ship. We got into the elevator with some teenagers on the last day who were apparently just riding the elevators around because they had nothing else to do.
My boys had fun, but they had no reference point either. My husband said we should start them on Carnival so their expectations aren't that high, and I guess he was right. Carnival really didn't live up to the expectations we had from previous cruises on RC, Norwegian, and Celebrity.