Did the Cruise Parking Package at the Country Inn & Suites across the way from Port Canaveral and it worked out very well.
The security and wait to embark was reasonable. However, don't make the mistake I did of trying to carry on all your luggage! Check most of it and just carry on the basic necessities. Fortunately, the room steward allowed me to leave my luggage with him even though the room was not ready yet. And despite what the Carnival literature says, you can check into the terminal as early as you want...you just might have a little bit of a wait. But they appear to board earlier than stated.
Your Sign and Sail card is also your room key so don't lose it.
We had a balcony room at the very aft end of the port side and it was great! More room in the room, bathroom, and balcony than I expected. And looking aft there's nothing but ocean!
Tip: There's dispensers in the room with shampoo and soap so there's no need to bring your own. But you will need your own hair dryer.
You receive a daily printed newsletter that gives you the schedule for all the activities and dining for each day. And the TV has information channels for more.
Our steward (Pico) was great and always took good care of us!
The quality of the food was pretty average. I had anticipated the mass-produced lobster would be dry and over-cooked but I was pleasantly surprised! It was great! And the warm chocolate melting cake was wonderful! Tip: stay away from the bacon at breakfast. Opt for the omelets on the pool deck.
Service was very good and everyone was always pleasant and helpful. The only exception was a security officer who needs to find a new job. Some guy who was rude to my wife and I just about demanded to see his superior.
The shows were good and the main band was excellent. There was another band that played in the Mirage club whose reach sometimes exceeded their grasp (i.e., they tried to do music which was vocally out of their range).
The alcoholic drinks were great if a bit pricey. But the wandering waiters do push the "daily specials" too hard. If you drink sodas like I do, go ahead and do the all you can drink thing for $6/day.
The pool was always too crowded and too hot so we never got in it. Some fans placed around the pool deck would have made a world of difference because the walls prevent any breeze there.
Concerning the ports, we paid $15 each to spend the day at the Grand Lucayan private beach. Definitely worth it but bring the towels from the ship! Just take one of the cabs ($5) there and pay the resort directly. In Nassau, we did the Charm and Beauty of Nassau tour through the ship. It was $36 each and worth it. It definitely gives you a better feel and view of the place rather than just spending the day at Atlantis.
The weather wasn't perfect...we had rain occasionally and it was partly cloudy most of the time But what can you do. At least there were no hurricanes. We brought the sea-sickness patches (available through your doc before you sail) but never needed them. Surprisingly, we experienced no "sea legs" at all when getting off the ship so that says a lot for their stabilizers.
But if you're sailing during hurricane season, definitely get some cruise insurance.
The best parts? Being on the balcony in the mornings with my wife...watching the sunsets there and then the stars as they came out one by one. Lying in the hammock at the Grand Lucayan under the palm trees. All in all, a wonderful experience!
Did a beach pass at the Grand Lucayan for $15. Access to their infinity pool, private beach, cushioned chairs, hammocks, bar, bathrooms, showers, etc. Wonderful! BUT bring towels from the ship!
Gave a great feel for what the island outside the resorts is like...history, culture, etc. A MUST DO for first-time visitors!