My wife, our two (just graduated from college) children and I are frequent cruisers -- this was our 10th cruise together as a family.
It is a joy to be able to sail from Baltimore. We live about an hour's drive from Baltimore. The check-in process is smooth and easy, and within two hours of leaving our house we were on the ship!
DW and I had a Deck 6 balcony, and our children had an interior cabin a few doors down from us. Our cabin, 6136, was average sized; we didn't feel cramped in the cabin. The balcony was narrow, just wide enough for the two deck chairs on the balcony. There was a good level of privacy for our balcony. The kids' cabin, 6106, was okay as well, but they could hear the music from the theater below them during performances.
The ship itself is in good shape. You could see some instances of wear and tear, and we know that she is going to be refurbished and brought up to Fun Ship 2.0 standards in January. The only structural issue I could see is that the walkways in the public areas, especially on deck 2, are too narrow, especially in the atrium area when there are lines for both pictures and for getting into the dining room. Anyone going elsewhere is trying to squeeze their way through the available space.
We had the late dining, and we enjoyed the dinners. Our waiter and assistant waiters were very good and attentive, remembering our names from the first evening onwards. The only negative was the roving bar waiter ignored our children most nights when they wanted to get sodas with their dinner.
We did go to David's, the steakhouse, one evening and we all very much enjoyed the meal there as well.
Lido deck can be congested at times. Cooking pizza and hamburgers on demand is a nice touch, but it also causes some very long lines.
Based on previous reviews, we did not take in any of the Vegas-style shows. We did frequent the Punchliners comedy club and saw some very good comedians. There are usually two comedians on board at any time, with two "family friendly" shows in the early evening, and three "adult-only" shows in the late evening. The comedians switch off at mid-cruise and are replaced by two new ones.
We did not do any excursions, since we had been to the two ports (Grand Turk and Freeport) in the past. Instead we just took it easy.
Disembarkation was pretty smooth as well. They let "self-assist" passengers, who did not check luggage the night before, off the ship first. We had checked our luggage to be taken off the ship, so we went to the dining room for breakfast. We had a high disembarkation number so we sat in the dining room until they had to close it (about 10 AM). We then sat in the lounge area just outside the dining room. After about 10 minutes one of the crew asked if we were ready to leave the ship, and we were able to skip the long line and walk right off the ship. Disembarkation, including immigrations and customs, was very smooth. We did have a brief panic when we could not find one of our bags, but it turned out it was put into the prior disembarkation number's group.
1. We love going in and out of Baltimore. Carnival, keep the Pride or another ship there!
2. The dinners in the MDR are very good, and dinner at David's is fantastic!
3. Carnival and HAL need to figure out how to manage both tender and shore operations at Half Moon Cay better. Either that, or skip HMC and spend more time in either Freeport or another port.
4. It was a very relaxing week!