I booked this cruise for myself and two companions as a gift for one of my companions, who was a first-time cruiser. Having been on quite a few cruises in the past, I had a little bit of experience with which to compare this one, and I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. I chose this cruise because of the duration of the cruise and the proximity of the departure port to our home (Atlanta). Check in was quick and painless - one of the quickest I've ever experienced, and the personnel at the cruiseport were friendly and helpful. The first disappointment came when we entered our stateroom. I had never been in a more crowded stateroom in my entire cruising career. We had two twin beds, and a third which folded down over the first two. The fold-down bed was perpendicular to the two lower ones, making it impossible for either person in the lower beds to sit up in bed without hitting your head. The other difficulty was in the fact that from the foot of the lower beds to the wall, two people could not pass each other, so one person had to crawl up on a bed in order for another one to pass. The balcony was extremely small as well, with barely enough room for the three of us to sit on it. The room almost appeared as if Carnival had taken what was previously one cabin, and installed a wall to create what is now two cabins. The air conditioning was only adequate, with no way to adjust the temperature. On the plus side, our cabin steward was extremely attentive. Because our room had no refrigerator, he furnished us with a cooler, and always kept it full of ice for us. Nice touch! He also remembered our names, and always greeted us by name when we passed him in the hallway.
The dining room decor was tired. I was hoping to impress my first-time cruiser friend with the beautiful decor that I am so used to seeing on cruise ships, but the room was nothing special. The tables were set impeccably, however, and our dining room experience was always a positive one.
The food in the casual dining area was just average. Nothing special, but not horrible either. I was surprised to find such a difference in the quality of the food in the two dining spaces. The outside grill, which served hotdogs and hamburgers, always had a long and slow line, making it a less-than-ideal choice for lunch for anyone who was not willing to spend at least 30 minutes in line.
The lido deck apparently had a recent renovation, with thatched tiki-type umbrellas and fake palm trees. I thought that it looked cheesy instead of nice - sort of like a second-rate motel. And of course, there was the always-present deck chair problem. People would stake out their deck chairs by putting their towels on them, then disappear for hours. If you did not get out to the deck by 10am, you could not find a deck chair.
The entertainment was good, with the exception of the comedian. When we heard him the first time, he did a good job, but we went to see him in a different lounge on a different night, and his entire routine was crude and vulgar. I felt terrible for people who allowed their teens to attend his act. One of my companions actually walked out. Not cool!
All in all, I would say that this cruise would have been a good value if I had paid under $250 for it, but at over $500 for a balcony room, I felt that I did not get a good value for my money.