I have sailed on most of the major cruise lines, but never on Carnival. We decided to take a family cruise and since we had people of all ages, including some young children we decided to give Carnival a try. It was inexpensive and I had heard good things about their kids program and it sailed from Port Canaveral which was only an hour and 20 minutes from home.We booked 4 rooms, three inside an a balcony. Shortly before sailing I received a call offering to up grade all of us to Grand Suites side by side for a very reasonable charge. We jumped on it and it proved some of the best money I have spent on a cruise.
Embarkation was smooth, but the VIP boarding that goes along with a suite was nothing more than one overworked women in a very small office with 4 chairs. I am not sure it was any faster than standing in line, but we could keep the kids corralled. We did get to go right on board and our suite were ready. Very nice rooms, 400+ sq feet and a nice large balcony. The way I want to cruise from now on. One nice thing is there will be no more family cruises since they all want suites from now on.
We went up to the buffet lunch and it was standard cruise fare. No better no worse. There were lots of hot dishes and hamburgs and hot dogs. The only bad thing was the pizza. not as good as Princess. Plenty of seating and good organization.
The ship is an older ship, but is in good shape. Clean and constant maintenance in progress. Some of the quirky things you always find in older ships. The decor is 80's Las Vegas. Lots of neon. Once big pool and a waterpark, which the kids loved. Also, an adults only area at the stern with hot tubs and no pool. Was very popular. Seemed to be plenty of deck chairs and it was not a problem finding a place to sit or lay out. But I do not think the ship was full. One of the kids counselors said their numbers were down on our cruise.
The service in all areas was very good. Room service was on time, cabin steward did an excellent job and the wait staff in the dining was really good. The kids really enjoyed Joseph, the supercharged maitre de who put on a little show every night.
The only surprise and short coming I found was the entertainment. The shows were very good, but there were only two. Otherwise, lost of games and talent show type of entertainment. Never did find a place to listen to music and dance before or after dinner.
Ports were Nassau, Freeport and private island. Nassau is Nassau and I could have stayed on the ship. The private island was great and we enjoyed Freeport. Freeport is much more laid back than Nassau Just took a can shopping and to the beach.
Our younger kids loved the kids program and it gave the parents time to enjoy the ship without kids.
Disembarkation was smooth and we were out of the port by 9:45am.
Considering what we paid for this cruise, I took 11 people for 5 days for what it would have cost for 4 for 4 days on Disney, it was a great bargain. Everyone enjoyed themselves and the food was very good in the dining room and OK everywhere else. What more can you ask on a short cruise. I would cruise Carnval again.