Sorry for the length, just bare with me if you choose to keep reading haha.
This was my first cruise with my fiancee and it was exciting....for the first day. Still had fun just was bored sometimes.
We live in Fort Myers which is only 2.5 hours away depending on traffic so we decided to drive as it would be pointless to fly and there weren't any flights from here to Miami anyways so that would be pointless. The drive was fine until we hit Miami and the construction that was going on didn't help as I had never driven to Miami before, and neither did my iPhone with directions but we all now how helpful those things can be. After driving all that time my transmission temperature light came on and my car went into "limp mode" so I couldn't accelerate and pretty much slowed down on its own. GREAT!!! I did NOT need this in the middle of Miami traffic but I got lucky and pulled over by an exit and just waited for my car to cool down and then we were fine. That didn't happen on the way back from Miami luckily. It is definitely very stressful getting to the Port if you've never been there before, next time I think we will try to leave out of Ft. Lauderdale or Port Canaveral.
Embarkation: getting onto the ship was really easy and fast. It took us maybe 15-20 minutes to board and then we just hung out waiting to go to our room.
Cabin: We booked a balcony room, 1018, and it was very nice. We didn't receive our cabin number until the day before sailing because we chose to do the cheapest option for Florida residents and they will pick your cabin, but that's okay because we had a great room. The bathroom was clean, shower was kinda small (we are a little on the large size ;-) ). The tv wasn't a flat screen but to me the cabin is just a place to sleep so I didn't plan on spending a whole lot of time watching tv in there anyways. Our room steward, Louie, was great we didn't meet him until after the safety drill and he was very nice, and remembered our names and always said hi to us in the hallway. The bed was comfortable and the balcony was really nice. WE enjoyed being able to sit outside.
Service: The service aboard this ship was great. I never had a rude crew member or heard anything bad from other passengers. Our head waitress Sanja was amazing and fast! Bartenders were courteous whether i was buying an alcoholic drink or using my "bottomless bubbles". (I had heard that sometimes waiters or bartenders would be a little less enthusiastic about serving people who have the bottomless bubbles because there is no tip, I did not have that problem)
Food: The buffet food was something to be desired. There were some food that was okay and some that was just bad or bland. The 24 hour pizza was bland and tasteless but I ate it nonetheless because I am a pizza fanatic haha. The deli where you can order a hot or cold sandwich was OKAY. I would only order the corned beef and pastrami sandwich because it was the only one I actually liked. The main dining room food was excellent compared to the buffet. I tried something new every night since I made it a goal to try some foods I don't normally eat. Granted sometimes the food was a little on the cold side but eh I didn't complain the taste kinda made up for it. We sat next to an amazing couple, Craig and Laura, who were from New York and we enjoyed eating dinner with them, very nice people.
Entertainment: The entertainment is where you can tell they cut some corners to give you a cheaper cruise. The first main show "Living in America", was not that interesting at all. I actually started to fall asleep in my chair I was so bored. The schedule had maybe 2 or 3 timing conflicts with other items on the schedule; i.e there may have been two activities that you wanted to go to but overlapped each other so you;d be missing some of one or the other. On our second Sea Day my fiancee was actually bored and honestly I was too. The activities that we did try to go to were lame and no one really participated. I did use the casino, (for the first time now that I'm over 21 I can play table games), I unfortunately spent maybe a little TOO much time in the casino, but it was vacation money to be spent however I wanted anyways so no harm no foul, I made $143 on slots anyways :-)
Excursions: We took an ancient culture and mayan ruin tour excursion. It was a tour on a bus that took us around the island of Cozumel and then to some mayan ruins. The bus's A/C wasn't working properly so it was a little warm in the bus and after walking around the ruins was a little disheartening but we did get a free bottle of water though so that helped a little. The ruins themselves seemed a little....I don;t know how to say it, kinda "eh" I guess would be it. They were "reconstructed" by the archaeologists from different universities in America so to me they didn't really seem "authentic". They were still real ruins, but to me just not that exciting. Maybe if we went to Tulum we may have had a better time.
People: I don;t know if there's a whole lot to say about the other passengers but I did want to point out that on this ship there were a good amount of kids. Not enough to be overwhelming but how some of the kids acted, it makes you wonder if their parents taught them any manners? I had maybe 1 or 2 issues with children but that was because they had cut me in a food line or were just being rude. During the elegant night we had our photos taken and at one station there were these obnoxious teenage boys who just made a mockery of the whole thing and weren't even dressed up appropriately. You could tell that the photographer was annoyed. They just made stupid faces and poses and I found it very rude. The point of the pictures was to have a nice professional photo done while you were all dressed up. And some other passengers were just rude in general and it makes you wonder. I'm only 23 and sometimes I think I have more class than the older passengers who just don't care and have no manners.
Prices: The prices on the ship for things were to be expected, and by that I mean it's a cruise ship and you're on vacation so they are going to make everything more expensive, just like if you went to Disney or Seaworld. It's really easy to just hand over that Sail and Sign card without really thinking twice about how much you just spent. We spent over $700, correction, mostly IIII spent over $700! Things add up very quickly if you're not careful. My fiancee wanted to get a massage and since we were on vacation and she never had one I said sure why not. I told her try to keep the package she picked below 150 since we were already racking up charges like crazy she said okay and picked the $149 package.....yeah haha. After her massage she tells there that the price didn't include a 15% gratuity. Excuuuuse me? That wasn't written anywhere so the massage was actually $179 >.
Debarkation: Getting off the ship was actually fairly simple. I was surprised. We did "zone luggage", that's where they take your luggage the night before and then they call you by zone to debark. Well that was definitely a dumb idea. We had to wait for our zone to be called and then we had to wait for our luggage to come around on the belt and our luggage belt had 5 other zones on it along with ours. WE will definitely do self assist next time, we could have been out of there way sooner! Going through customs was easy, as long as you filled out your paperwork and had your ID in hand and ready to go, no problems. Parking ended up being $80 for the 4 days.
So for being our first cruise we still had some fun and got experience a new place, there were SOME drawbacks but we dealt with them. Your vacation is what you make of it and we wanted to have a good time so try not to let stuff bother us too much. I think we will try a different cruise line just because we feel that Carnival has the least amount of entertainment compared to other lines based on what other passengers told us. But we will go on it again if we happen to be part of a group or something, cruising is fun and hey it's a vacation where there's free food!