A little background about us. We are a (mostly) retired couple. My husband and I have been on 7 cruises. This was our first Carnival Cruise. This review will be long. I hope its informative!
We arrived in Tampa by Air via Frontier Airlines out of Trenton. It was our first time at it definitely won't be our last. Great little airport with free parking very close to home. We picked up our rental cat at Avis - $48 for the weekend. We drove 5 minutes to the Intercontinental(priceline - $55 bid). This was a great hotel. It definitely caters to business people, but since we were there over Labor Day Weekend, it was mostly quiet. No complaints about the room - there was free parking in the garage, but they did charge $13 per day for WiFi. I used my hotspot from Verizon so I was fine.
We had dinner at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. What a treat! We loved everything about this place. The food was awesome, but the entire ambiance made it a very special dinner. There was a floor show of Flamenco dancers and they were very good. I had Pompano en papillote (fish cooked in paper) delish!! and churros for desert. My husband had a seafood Fra Diavolo and flan - he also loved his dinner.
We spent Sunday at Treasure Island Beach ( It is VERY wide) but worth the walk.
The following night we ate at Mitchell's Seafood Market and had another great meal.
We arrived at the pier at 10:30AM. As FTTF, we were one of the first groups to get onto the ship. We were escorted to our cabin- and we dropped off our carry-ons. Our steward was in the cabin and I gave him a $20 and asked him to keep the roll-away bed closed during the day so that we could move around a bit. It was money well spent. Our room was perfect throughout the cruise. We went to the Lido deck for lunch. No one explained what was there. We walked through the buffet, but we did not know there was a grill until we saw someone with a hot dog. I think this could be better explained.
By the time we finished our lunch, our bags were in the room. I decorated our cabin door as well as inside the cabin - it was my granddaughter's birthday. I unpacked a bit and went to muster. We finished unpacking and went to our scheduled Meet and Greet at the US Bar near the Casino. It was wonderful to meet the folks we have been corresponding with for months on Cruise Critic! We never made it to the sail away under the bridge. Not sure why. We did not sign up for the Cheers program but my daughter and her husband did, and they felt it was worth it.
We had more drinks at the bar and got ready for dinner at the late seating. We ate every dinner in the Elation Dining Room. Our waiter was Cyprian ans he was so wonderful! He anticipated our every need and even cut my grandson's meat every night.
We ate every meal in the MDR. My only complaint was the eggs Benedict. I did not like they way they were made. I sent them back 3X and they came out exactly same way. The eggs were hard cooked, the sauce was solid and had been put under a broiler. Not my idea of Eggs Benedict - but one dish out of 12 is a very good ratio!
We were at the pool every day and had no trouble getting lounges. But, we are early risers. I spent part of both sail days at the Serenity Deck.
We enjoyed the adult comedy show, but it could have been longer. Both Shout and and Eight More Seconds were good. The talent show was ok. I enjoyed the country music band, Michael Jackson music and the piano bar.
My husband came in 2nd in the Slot tournament - he won a seat at the grand finale in November - too bad we can't go - and a nice Tee-shirt.
One disappointment was that my husband's carnival sponsored deep sea fishing tour was cancelled due to lack of participants. This is of course, not Carnival's fault - but a bummer nevertheless.