For first time cruisers, we weren't really sure what to expect. We had done our research, but of course, this is all subjective and so you will have to make up your own minds.
1. We paid for Faster to the Fun --- We thought it was worth it. We jumped the long, long line at embarkation, our room was ready, bags were there quickly, first off on the tender at the private island a huge plus, and then priority disembarkation.
2. Our room steward was excellent. He took great care of us, said hi whenever he saw us, asked what we needed, really attentive to our daughter, making sure she had what she needed (she loved the towel animals each day).
3. We had an Oceanview on the lowest deck, Riviera, in the Aft portion of the ship. We liked it and weren't bothered by the elevator rides. The rumble of the engines was like white noise for sleeping, and when we had some weather overnight, we didn't feel it being so low. I joked that we were in "steerage", but it was not a problem.
4. We had late dining, which we liked with one exception. Our daughter wanted to participate in the Club C (12-14 year old program) events, and many of them started at the same time as the late dining. I would suggest to those with youth in this age group, you might want to consider the early dining, if you want to eat together. A couple of nights she ate in the Lido buffet instead of the dining room, and then went to the Club while we had dinner. Our waiters were very attentive. Fussed over my daughter when she was there, and really did a great job with the younger children at the table.
5. The pools on the ship were so small and crowded, we actually never went in. Our daughter didn't want to go on the water slide, so we didn't either. WE have decided to do it without her the next time!
6. For the dress up evening, we splurged and had my daughter go to the spa and get an "updo". The ladies were very nice and took great care of her. The photographers were lots of fun (although we spent WAY too much on the pictures....rookies!).
7. On the day at sea, our daughter enjoyed the Circle C events, I played some of the games (Scattergories, Family Feud) and my husband read a book on deck. His only complaint was in having a hard time finding a place with shade as he had gotten burned the day before.
8. Random thoughts....There was a strange smell on deck in some areas. I don't know if it was sewage or garbage. Couldn't figure that out.
We bought the soda stickers for my daughter and myself. This was a nice perk. Even was able to use it on the beach at Half Moon Cay.
Next time we go, we will probably bring some bottled water, quarters (in case you need to use the laundry machines....we needed to dry our swim suits....they just didn't dry out hanging in the bathroom), and snacks. That was one thing that seemed odd. We couldn't find a place to just have some snacks....like chips, pretzels, etc. We might have just not found the right spot.
Overall we had a great time. About the time we had things figured out, we were done. We are already looking for another cruising opportunity next year. Sure, there were some things that weren't perfect, but that goes along with the adventure. Thanks Carnival for offering something we could afford with such terrific service.