I must say that from some of the reviews posted here I was very afraid I wouldn't enjoy the cruise. Thankfully, I thoroughly enjoyed myself!
Honestly I can't understand what folks expect for less than $500 per person for a 5-day, 4-night or even less vacation with ALL Meals included, entertainment and transport to tropical islands. I am a very picky traveler and I stay at 4 star or higher hotels unless in a small town without this level of accommodations.
The only "complaints" are: #1) other than lemonade and iced tea, sodas are an additional expense and should be calculated into the overall costs of the trip. #2) When dining in the "dining room", it seemed take an extremely long time (10 minutes or more) to get refills of the FREE lemonade. #3) Desserts were not too tasteful or imaginative (you will have to go to the bakery and pay for a GREAT dessert). #4) Ridiculous prices for pictures. That being said, these are all SMALL complaints and did not change the fact that I had a GREAT time!
As a first timer, I recommend the following:
1 - Take 1-Dramamine right before the ship disembarks
2- Don't forget your bathing suit and flip flops
3 -Stick some sodas and water in your luggage
4 - Spend your sea day on the deck by the on-board water park
5 - Don't book excursions through Carnival. Way too expensive, At the dock, there will be drivers and tour buses that will perform the same service at a MUCH lesser expense than carnival
6 - You can eat as much as you like, so feel free to order 2 servings of a meal or order 2 different meals, desserts, etc.
7 - Hang out all day then take a late afternoon nap so you can stay up and enjoy the evening festivities.