i havent been on a cruise since i was 10 years old and i am 31 now... cruise ships have changed so much in 20 years... my mother, fiance and i decided to go on a cruise. my fiance was very nervous due to the fact he had never been on a vacation before let alone a week long cruise and he is a smoker.. we stayed in an interior room cause we didnt plan on being in our room longer than we had too. we booked our cruise from a friend of mine who is a travel agent and he got us a great deal. we chose this cruise specifically cause it went out of new orleans. we wanted to visit new orleans before we cruised. we drove to new orleans which was a 14 hour drive we are from illinois. in new orleans we stayed at Chateau Hotel on Chartres st... it was a nice quiet hotel only 2 blocks off bourbon st. and the price was right. i did some researh before we left and found a parking garage that offered cruise parking for $8 a day that was a steal. normally parking is $25 a day in new orleans. they offered free transportation to the cruise ship..that was called the Fulton Garage. the lines were a little long waiting to get on the ship i think we waited over and hour to get our cruise id's. they didnt have alot of people working. i would recommend buying a lanyard that holds cards before you board the ship. i bought mine from walmart for under $2 the ship charges about $10. once on the ship we went right to our room. we had the perfect location. we were on level 8 3 doors down from the stairs and elevator. the buffet was right above us on level 9 and so was the indoor outdoor pool and hot tubs, the 24 hour pizza parlor, the midnight snack place and ice cream station. our dining room was on level 3 directly below us. i really liked staying in the aft of the boat cause it was less crowded.. all of my fiance nerves disappeared when he saw the beautiful view from level 10 and that is where he could smoke. he was happy he only had to walk up 2 floors to have a cigarette. the shows were unbelievable we saw them a couple times. the comedians were good the first part of the week but the second shift that joined us were not funny at all. you know its bad when nobody in the room laughs. the food was really good no complaints at all. i recommend the chocolate melting pot for dessert. we were seated with a party of 5 and one lady was very racist and it didnt sit well with my fiance so after the second night he didnt join us for dinner anymore he just at at the buffet. the dining room was a little slow the first day but one night we told them we were in a hurry to catch a 9pm show and we had late seating dinner 815 our waiter assigned the 2nd waiter to our table only and we were done eating by 850..guys burger joint had the best burgers ive ever eaten in my life i wish that place stayed opened longer than noon to 6pm. the pools were always crowded and so were the hot tubs but that was to be expected. this boat is very clean and nicely decorated. getting on and off the boat at the ports was extremely easy and fast. WE DID NOT BUY ANY EXCURSIONS FROM CARNIVAL. this is a great ship to cruise on no matter where it sails to. the staff is friendly, the food is great and like i said before it is very clean!