We chose this cruise based on the point of embarkation and we were not disappointed. This was the easiest boarding experience we have ever encountered in cruising. There were very few lines and the whole process too less than 45 minutes. The ship is a little on the older side, but she is beautifully maintained and VERY clean. The decor has really been trashed on here, but I did not find it offensive, although some of the areas are a tad "dark"...may be thought of as romantic :O). If you think Renaissance then you will know what the decor feels like, I really thought the glass art in the stairwells was VERY beautiful. The statue of David in the Steakhouse is certainly full view, but then I believe that it is an exact replica of the masterpiece.
The Casino is VERY Smoky, but you can by pass it completely by using the 3rd deck. I really wish they would at least have a passthrough area there that isn't completely filled with smoke. Better ventilation in there is very much needed.
The food was overall very good, and I would describe the service as outstanding. We tried Anytime dining for the first time, and we are now BIG fans! We found out we could ask for the same "area" or wait staff every night, and we liked our wait team so much we did chose to do that. Even with that, the one and only time we had to wait for a table was on the last night of the cruise and the wait time was less than 10 minutes. The Lido deck Mermaid Grill was good, with my highest praise for the 24 hour Pizza (Carnival PLEASE add a 2nd station...the longest lines I ever encountered on the cruise was at the Pizza station) and the Hamburgers. My husband enjoyed LOTS of the endless ice cream, and we both partook of the Chocolate Melting Cake many of the evenings! YUM!!! The only complaint we had on the entire cruise was the Sea Day Brunches, and we went all 3 days trying to see if it was a timing issue for us. The food there ranged from OK to VERY BAD....the menu is unusual on those days to be sure (Cereal covered French Toast?? Mexican Eggs??) It really lacked a few good "lunch" choices. The time the food was VERY BAD was when we went very late to the brunch and the kitchen was closing. The rest of the time it was OK....but the last day (we had a free drink coupon to use so we had to go back) we just got the drink, appetizers (they were good) and a salad, and then we went upstairs and got burgers! :) It never really bothers me if food somewhere on a ship isn't great at one meal, I just walk somewhere else and get something better :O)
Our cabin steward was VERY good, with GREAT towel animals every night, a VERY clean room and bath room and he was SO nice! In fact, The only people I met on the entire boat who weren't exceptionally nice were the people making pizza , and I think they were just slammed busy all the time (another hint for another pizza station).
The serenity deck was very nice but it was always crowded (I never did even get to sit in a hammock), there were also several "secluded" deck areas to sneak away to where it was not crowded and I really enjoyed those. Hubby did the water slide and enjoyed that, as well as our balcony in our room.
Overall, this was a very nice cruise, and I would not hesitate to recommend it to friends. One caveat is that if you DO sail out of Baltimore in the winter, you WILL need to remember that it takes 2 days to get to Florida where it is warm and I think there are some areas where it might be uncomfortable to be when you are boarding and disembarking at the terminal, This ship DOES have a pool cover so even if it is cool there is a place to go.
Carnival does a lot of "added value" (costs extra) things on board, but if you politely say no, they are not very pushy. I did 2 Spa treatments and both were AMAZING!!! There 1st night special Massage and Facial, was the best Spa deal I saw all week.
People questioned our sanity going on a Carnival Cruise, but I would hop on board again right now! GREAT Job Carnival!