This was our first time to ever cruise. It was me, my husband, my daughter who is 17 and her best friend, also 17. We embarked in New Orleans and the process was a breeze!! Checking in on ship was just as pleasant. I was, and still am in such amazement at the enormity of the ship. The most memorable characteristic of the trip was the extreme friendliness of the crew!! Always smiled, always spoke, and very prompt - never an empty promise! The girls fell in love with our steward, LEO! One of the greatest values is having an attentive person to care for your kids and their needs. My daughter can't stand her blanket being tucked in and by the third night, LEO had figured it out! Instead of fully making her bed, he would fold her blanket up and place it on the end of the bed - WITH each girl's phone on the correct bed, AND the most adorable towel animals and chocolates! Every night the girls were excited to see which animal would be waiting for them with one of our sunglasses on! So much fun! He also figured out to put the rail down on my daughter's friend's bed! Seem little, but this seriously made them feel so special! They ordered room service every night, which was very prompt, and is of no charge - this is offered 24 hours a day.
Dining: We absolutely loved Guy's Burgers and the Blue Iguana had the best breakfast tacos and burritos! I've read a lot of reviews that complain about the food, but there was absolutely NOTHING we could complain about - EXCEPT - there was tooooo much food!!!!! And we are big eaters who love food! We went to the Steak House one night - it was a fun experience - but I wouldn't do it again. First, if you have to ask what all the different silverware is for, then you really don't need to be there! lol It took 2 1/2 hours, and although it was extremely good, by the time it ended we were really getting restless! However, I think it is a fun experience to do at least once. We did not go to the captain's dinner because we did not know about the first one and the second one was after our excursion to Pasion Island in Cozumel, and we were pooped! We had already checked the menu and it was identical to the Steak House menu, so we decided to pass, but we will do it on the next cruise just for the experience. And it appeared that the entire ship DID attend, on both nights!! Kids best part - ahhh, who am I kidding - EVERYONE'S best part of eating was the 24 hour ice cream/yogurt machines!!! The creamiest ice cream!! We each took a 12 pack of soft drinks and it was more than enough.
Entertainment: Excellent. The parties out at the pool were great fun! DJ's awesome! Actually would've liked more parties. The girls had the best time dancing and seeing themselves up on the massive seaside theater screen. Seaside movies - awesome! Felt great sitting outside with the breeze and the deck all lit up, rocking in those cool pool rockers!! They needed more movie nights though! The last day of cruising the entertainment almost seems to have stopped. We went to the comedy shows - they have family and adult shows. Karaokie was a lot of fun - but slow to get started at times - the girls liked it. There was just so much to do. One thing I can say is I did not EVER feel uncomfortable allowing the girls to run around the ship alone! And I'm a bit of a paranoia. We felt completely safe! Did not experience any out of control drunks. Another odd experience was that you could leave your personal items laying around and never have to worry that they were going to come up missing. The girls too were so impressed that they could leave their phones and money etc. in the rooms and it was always as they had left it. I must admit we did not partake in near enough activities on the ship, but we will next cruise. We were good just sunning and drinking! BTW - fantastic drinks! I'm not a drinker, but sometimes you just gotta let loose! Oh, can't forget the pool/water fun! The slide was great! I didn't finally go down until the last couple days, but it was fun! And know this....the pool and slide have salt water!! Yuck, but not too bad once you're aware of it!
Cleanliness: I can complain of absolutely nothing in this area!!! The ship was extremely well kept. I felt so guilty that the crew seemingly worked non-stop, cleaning, mopping, sweeping, wiping down! The rooms were spotless and the baths were spotless as well. We stayed in an interior room on the Riviera. Being our first cruise we didn't know what to expect and a lot of people told us a balcony was nice, but not worth the money because you are rarely in the room - which was true! I was actually very surprised with the size of the room - I had expected much smaller! We will try each room type in the future, but I wouldn't shy away from an interior room - and I'm very picky! When we booked the cruise I was almost in a panic to know we were on the lowest level - closest to the water - but I actually was very pleased and prefer this level - mostly because it gets to debark first! lol
Complaints: The only thing I can really complain about is the waiters in the comedy club. If you didn't order a drink they seemed to really take it personal! Every waiter, every time we went. I ordered sometimes just because of the attitude. I feel this is something just the comedy club pushes because we did not experience this in any of the other bars/lounges. The other thing was the lady who worked at the "future cruise" desk - I don't know what it was really called. But, this should be a very, very important facet of the ship - I assume Carnival wants you to book future cruises. The lady was not very friendly to the person in front of us, and did not even help the person, and nor was she friendly or helpful with us. She was from another country - which I believe nearly the entire crew is - so maybe it was just her culture and where she seemed harsh, she may not have really been? Not enough to discourage me sailing with them again, because the entire attitude of the rest of the crew was amazing.
One last thing, when we boarded, for the first couple of days we declined to take pictures thinking we had to pay for all of them! Take the pictures!!!! They are fun, really good, and you are not obligated at all to purchase them. Also, debarking the ship was definitely a little chaotic!!! They should only allow one deck at a time! My husband and the girls wanted to get off the ship quickly because we had a 9 hour drive ahead of us, so they chose the do it yourself option instead of letting the crew take your luggage the night before and you just get off when called. My fear was that everyone would choose this option - and they did!!! It was not a pretty sight at all!! Luckily were on the Riviera - not that that helped a whole lot! Once we got off the ship, the rest went very quickly and smoothly.
Absolutely loved our first cruise and we are very excited to cruise again!!!!