Summary: Shows (3) were excellent. Food was decent in cafeteria, good in main dining. Steward and dining room service were excellent. Passengers (other than kids) were reasonably behaved, though there was late night noise. Only complaint was drink prices, which at $10 for Margaritas was high (no 2-for1 specials). Having had a bad experience once before on Carnival, we were pleasantly surprised. More below.
Details: My wife and I were quite disappointed with our first cruise, as it happens on Carnival, eight years ago. Since then, we've avoided Carnival preferring Celebrity. We ended up on Carnival this time because our first choice of departure port soured when Carnival arbitrarily changed the itinerary and we recouped by selecting an alternate departure site. The previous experience led to low expectations, but we were proven wrong. Grousing about no show on the second night yielded to truly excellent musicals three times, beginning the third night. Costuming and vocal talent were top notch -- worth $100-plus tickets to professional shows anywhere. The first show theme about New Orleans featured a House of the Rising Sun set and costumes that were stunning (not to mention the vocals); the third show theme was a feel good but still well performed Beatles retrospective -- with an amazing combination of projected animation and real-life performance (and laser light show). We had excellent service from our steward, who after hearing our initial reactions provided towel animals in our stateroom every night. (My wife likes those.)
All told, this experience negated our earlier negative impression of Carnival. We would sail Carnival again if the departure port and price suited. (We don't care much what the ports of call are; we prefer days at sea -- to the extent that we sometimes don't even go ashore when a ship is in port.) A minor nit: We missed the champagne on embarkation that we're accustomed to.