This was our second Carnival Cruise. The 5 hour Drive down from N. Central FL on a Sunday Morning to Port Everglades was a breeze. The port was under a bit of construction but the flow was pretty well marked. Getting unloaded, parked and embarkation / debarkation went very smooth considering the number of people boarding. From our balcony room on the 8th deck we were afforded some great views of Port Everglades and all points in between for 6 days.
But while the cabin had great optics, that is pretty much where the "Fun" ended. Carnival makes no mention of the horrors that await you after midnight and they offer no special deals for cabin 8430 and those surrounding it (balcony 8424/36/38 and interior 8428/32/36/40). All of these cabins share the dubious honor of being position directly under the rear pool deck and Aft Bar ... but unlike any other cabin that may be under a public deck, these rooms are under the only all night eating on the ship - the pizza bar. The Teen activities on board boast events until 3am, so imagine the noise of kids, teens and late night dancers on un-carpeted deck floors and the constant all night long scraping of deck chairs back and forth as large groups of passengers visit the only food source all night long. While I cannot speak directly for the other cabins I mentioned above (except for 8434 - I spoke to them), I lump them in the problem area because these are the cabins that are positioned directly under the tables. The ones just in front and behind these are either under the pizza workers area or are under the bar tenders feet ... so they may be less noisy.
The only night we got any kind of relief from this was mid cruise when we complained 3 times in the same night to 3 different departments, finally getting a bit of resolve by tracking down the head person for that area. Calls to the front desk and house keep went nowhere. But finally they closed that section (there are tables and chairs available across the whole back of the ship that mostly go unused late night). Two days later we were called to see if things were better, but that night and again for the rest of the cruise the noise kept us up all night.
If you are an all night "party person" who will spend most of your night life out on the ship until the early hours of the morning returning to your cabin only to pass out ... this will probably be little to no problem. But for us ... the whole reason we purchase a balcony room is because we spend a good bit of time in the room and on the balcony enjoying the sights and sea. But the noise coupled with a substandard very hard bed (we sailed the Carnival Legend and loved the bed) pretty much was a large negative to an overall decent cruise.
The ports of call (Key West, Grand Cayman, and Ocho Rios) were great fun. The spa and gym were OK. But for a bow facing gym, Carnival's design really "shipwrecked" the view from the treadmills because the windows were all at knee height, and you left staring into mirrors at face level. Shows had no appeal to us, the pools are very small and as mentioned in the cruise critic pro review - the ship had very poor flow. As mentioned by other reviewers, the mid ship "Chic" restaurant on floors 3 and 4 totally blocks off all possibility of easily getting around the ship. There was also no main deck walk. The 3rd floor main deck has very limited access and you cannot walk around the ship via the main deck. There is no outside aft view except from the 9th level Lido deck.
Over all the cruise was OK. The staff and especially our cabin Steward - Gede - was an absolute gem. But SHAME on Carnival for those noisy rooms and not even mentioning such issues ... AND charging the same price as you would pay for a quite balcony room.