Background: I sailed with my wife, father, mother, brother, and sister. My wife and I are in our late 20's and this was our third cruise, second with Carnival.
Hotel: We arrived a day early and stayed at the Holiday Inn at the Port of Miami. I thought the hotel was in a very convenient location and suited our needs well. It was clean and the staff was friendly. We left the hotel the next morning and arrived at the port at 11:30 am
Embarkation: This went smoothly and we were on the ship 45 min after getting to the port.
Ship: The ship was clean and well maintained. We immediately went to Rosie's for lunch after getting on board and relaxed.
Stateroom: The stateroom was big enough for all of our luggage and items we brought with us. The room was quite hot though the entire week. It was so hot that I never was able to use the comfortable blanket that Carnival provides and sells.
Food: I think Carnival has great food. I have a hard time being critical of the food when they have to serve nearly 3,000 people a day. Definitely set a night aside and go to Scarletts. It will be the best $30 you will ever spend.
Service: This is where I was quite disappointed in the trip. I thought I would get ahead of the game by tipping our stateroom attendant some money when we got there to ensure great service, but it didn't seem to inspire him. Our stateroom attendant often forgot things he shouldn't..i.e. replacing the kleenex box, not replacing used glasses, not filling the ice bucket. I also wasn't impressed with our waiter at dinner. He made no effort to ask our names, or introduce himself. Often we were just getting our dessert menus when most people were done eating and leaving the restaurant.
Entertainment: Top notch except for the main female singer. I have read review after review about how out of tune and bad she is and...everyone is right...she is bad!
Ports of call: We booked our excursions privately. Belize we booked will Gibert Young. A nice guy who gave a great tour. Roatan we booked with Victor Bodden. Another great tour.
Debarkation: HORRIBLE! They really try to push the self-debarkation. Most people did this and we paid for it. It took two hours to leave the ship and people were very upset. It's sad to say that that is my last impression of Carnival. I've taken Royal Caribbean before and in my mind there is no comparison and I'm done with Carnival.
Let me know if you have any questions!