Went with parents and a friend. I have been on Carnival Sensation and Imagination (smaller ships). Embarkation went smoothly. Of note, flew into Orlando the day prior. Used Art's Shuttle 1-800-567-5099 to get to port- $20 per person. You name the time.
At least three days of rough riding and the waves were not that big. I heard from many people that this ship was the worst they had been on. They cancelled one night's show. My mom wore the patch and took prescription meds and still didn't feel good one night.
One complaint- on several nights, they only offered one show at 9:45pm. Those with late dining (ours was 8:30) were never able to get a decent seat. On the smaller ships I had been on, they always offered two shows each night. Plus, they hyped all week about a "Nashville superstar" performing one night. Then, during the show, they said she missed her plane (there were never any plans to have someone there). That's just wrong. The shows were mediocre, nothing special.
My parents had a balcony which was very nice. They enjoyed it, but did say it was noisy during the night from the wind. Also, both of our cabins were in the front of the ship- much rockier. Try to get midship. Bernard from Housekeeping, was great and filled every request speedily.
We all thought the food was very good. My mom had beef every night- prime rib, filet mignon, New York strip- and they are good-sized portions. Our waiter, Carlos, was excellent, efficient, and attentive. The deli had good sandwiches. Could pass on Fish n Chips. At lunch one day, had chocolate buffet, but waited 30 minutes in line. Should have had two stations open. Tacos also drew a long wait. Breakfast did get old with the same options- how many different ways can you eat eggs??
Ports- Nassau, Bahamas- we took water taxi to see Atlantis resort and casino. The aquarium was nice, but they limit access to other areas.
St. Thomas- Gorgeous! Took excursion to Magen's Bay and Paradise Point. Bus ride is harrowing going up steep hills on narrow streets, but the views really are breathtaking. Did not shop here as was told St. Maarten is cheaper. Must try a Bushwacker- ice cream drink, but be careful- very potent!
St. Maarten- no excursion. They have beautiful shopping area right on pier. They also have water taxi, but we chose to walk 20 minutes to beach, boardwalk and shopping area. Beach was nice, but had lots of seaweed. It was convenient to have all things located in one area.
Of note, ship really tries to push buying jewelry from them- having "ONE DAY ONLY" sales (which they then have two more times). I was looking for a tanzanite ring and almost bought one on the ship on their "one day sale" (prior to stops at the islands), but I didn't. I waited for St. Maarten and got an excellent deal- for same price as ship, I got a ring with bigger stone and much deeper color. Also, at ports, you can haggle the price- they will come down a lot! The ship is a set price.
Did not have to tender at any of the ports which was nice.
Areas for improvement- Cruise director announced wrong time of arrival in Bahamas at the show- didn't correct the time until that morning. Should have made an announcement that night to clear up any confusion. Had to go through Immigration at St. Thomas. Again, night prior was told would do this by deck. Then that morning, they say those with early excursions would go through first.
Days at sea- very crowded for chairs and during lunch time. Disadvantage of being on larger ship.
We did not travel with kids and didn't really seem to notice the kids on the ship.
Casino- had "Low Limits" first night of cruise.
Sushi available every night and very good.
Captain's cocktail party- free drinks- any kind; however, never saw the captain or his crew. we just sat in one of the clubs.
Past Guest party- on previous ships, was fun and interactive- announcing each ship and you would clap if you had sailed on it. Again, just free drinks and the band playing. That was it. Also, previously, invitation would state "and guest". These did not, so my parents could not attend.
Disembarkation- no problems. Once again, used Art's shuttle as Carnival wanted to charge $35 for shuttle to Orlando airport. We didn't even need to reserve ahead of time. They are waiting with a sign at the port.
Overall, maybe just had high expectations, but was somewhat disappointed with this cruise compared to those prior.
At this point, I think I'd like to try another cruise lines, although, I do think Carnival is a good deal for the price.