First off, let me say that this is our 6th cruise and 2nd on a Carnival ship. All of my critiques are as compared to previous cruises as well as expectations.
I will start with the alcohol plan. For $49.95 per person and per day you get unlimited drinks (capped at 15 per person per day). The catch is that every adult in the cabin must purchase the plan and it must be for the entire trip. For the two of us the total for the plan with tax and tip came to $804. Consider that beer is either $5 or $6 depending on brand and that specialty/novelty drinks are $9. $804 buys a lot of drinks! We found ourselves trying to drink more in order to justify the price and still came up short of the "break even" amount. The total between us was 71 beverages at an average of $7 per drink. Unless BOTH parties are heavy drinkers I do not recommend taking the unlimited drink option. Furthermore, I wish Carnival would make this purchase part of a package. An $800 hit within hours of stepping on ship is a big pill to swallow especially on a "budget friendly" cruise line.
Dining on this ship left a lot to be desired. Ironically we liked the buffet food as much as the dining room. Breakfast came up way, way short of expectations and the deserts on board were almost not edible except for just a few. Worst of all is that most of the buffets are closing about the time you are returning from your excursion. For this reason I recommend early dining. We like to have a snack after our excursion to hold us over until the late dining and this was tough if you wanted to maximize your time on shore.
Service overall seems to fall with every cruise. I'm not sure if it's because the dining room is becoming more and more casual (NOT TO US!!!) or if it is the automatic tip structure. Even the drink service varied from bar to bar. Some of my drinks were very good and some were made very poor. The alcohol was all top notch brands and the pours were usually heavy.
The ship itself was beautiful and impeccably clean. After just a day and a half or so it was easy to navigate. The entertainment was average but seemed to get better as the cruise went on. The staff is very friendly and make it easy to get on and off the ship. Every request I made was handled swiftly and happily.