As first time cruiser's and after reading the mixed reviews here and on other websites we really did not know what to expect. There seemed to be people that either loved it or hated it, and nothing in between. Well I can tell you that we LOVED it!! Any one who enjoys beautiful ports, amazing staff who care about passengers happiness, and more food than you could ever eat are going to love this ship.
FOOD: The food is brilliant in the main dining room. I would advise people to eat there as many times as they can. We ate there nearly every morning, one lunch on the last sea day, and every dinner. Our table waiter Martina was outstanding and made our kids feel like they were the only ones on the boat. She cut our daughters steak every night, danced with our son every night, and made dining the favourite part of the day. She even offered the best advise about shore excursions and her ten years experience made all the difference! The buffet was amazing as well. It was not what we expected. I think the quality of the meals each day in the buffet is a credit to staff who prepare them. 'Chopsticks' was a major hit with great quality Asian meals each day. The Vietnamese day offered great Duck Rolls and steamed fish. The Deli is a great place for a late night grilled sandwich etc.
ROOMS: We had an extended aft view balcony. We had amazing views sailing out of Sydney, and leaving each port. Our room was bigger than expected, and easily accommodated the three of us. I highly advise getting an extended balcony aft view as they are really big!!. The only down side is that you will move more than others on the ship. Showers are great, pressure is excellent, actually better than my house, and a really good size.
STAFF: Every staff member makes your voyage special. The room stewards are excellent. The dining room staff amazing and very entertaining every night. The dancing and singing was great.
ENTERTAINMENT: Make sure you visit the punchliner comedy club. The Adults only nights are very funny, just don't sit down the front!! The many trivia events throughout the cruise are good, but maybe a bit American still. Did not enjoy the New Orleans show, but many did, just not my type of show. Overall the entertainment was very good.
KIDS CLUB: All I will say is that we have three children who usually hate kids clubs. We have travelled the world and Australia and they have never enjoyed kids clubs........ We could not get them out of kids club.....
PORTS: Isle of Pines was great, we visited the Natural Aquarium which was good. Worth the visit. Lifou was good as well, probably better snorkeling here than Isle of Pines. We saw turtles and heaps of fish. Mare was the best! amazing water quality, and the best beach snorkeling ever. Forget Noumea....
Overall, if you are family you will love the experience. Sure there are small things that Carnival can do to improve the ship, like more bar staff in some areas, and open more bars on the Lido deck. They should also change their satellite to receive Aussie stations. Don't expect to see any.... I mean any Aussie sports, the only Aussie sport managed to see was watching NRL on the P&O big screen on their Lido deck via binoculars when we were both docked at Noumea. (probably the highlight of Noumea)..
Go with a positive attitude, and friendly smile for the staff, and enjoy!!