This was our second Carnival cruise, but our first with children. The last cruise we took, I was pregnant with our now 11 year old...so it's been a while! Cruising with children is not as peaceful as without, but Camp Carnival helped out some. I thoroughly recommend signing your children up with Camp Carnival, my children, ages 8 and 11) had a blast, but sometimes their hours of operation are not ideal.
You do have to pick up your children at lunch every day, not a problem, since I prefer to dine with my kiddos anyway and it gave us some family & pool time every day. Just an FYI, my youngest highly recommends the pizza. I think he ate it EVERY day for lunch! Camp does not take them to the pool, which is the highlight of vacations, according to my children.
Carnival spends several days trying to get you to participate in their "Build a Bear" camp activities around lunchtimes...of course you have to purchase the bear...this was not high on the list for my boys. We usually dropped off the boys when Camp opened at 10, picked them up for lunch around noon and returned them to camp at 2ish until 5ish, depending on what time we chose to eat in the "fancy" dining room.
We ALWAYS took our boys to "fancy" dining, even on formal night. They really enjoyed tasting all the new and unusual foods offered every night and it gave me a chance to work on manners and etiquette. Camp will feed them a kid dinner, but we never tried it.
Depending on the scheduled kid activities, we either kept them with us to see the shows, or took them back to Camp until 9 or 10. After 10, you pay to have them keep the kids. Camp offers one late night party for kids, until 1 am for under 10 and until 3 am for over 10...costs extra to attend. Both my boys went & had a good time.
The most inconvenient hours were the last two days. You had to pick up the kids for most of the afternoon and evening. They had "family" activities planned, which sounded fun, but we ended up spending all that time in the pool. There were some adult shows and games we wanted to participate in, but children were not allowed and the camp was closed. This was my one big complaint, otherwise, Camp Carnival helped us enjoy our cruise with (and at times, without) our children! Great vacation for the entire family!