This was our first cruise with Carnival. I think the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is apt to describe our experience on this cruise. I went in with very low expectations and, for the most part, Carnival barely met the low bar I had set for it. I liken it to dining at a McDonalds. You will pretty much get the same demographic, similar food, similar ambience etc. Don't expect to pay low prices and get a top notch experience.
Dining - We had dinner in the Atlantic dining room every day. The food there was barely edible. The breakfast and lunch buffets were a similar experience. You could generally find one or two items on the buffet that were decent enough to fill you up. I appreciate good food but I am generally not a picky eater. I am glad I was on a 4 night cruise. I can't imagine having to eat that food for any longer than that.
The buffet lines were long. It took us anywhere from 20-30 minutes to get our food every time.
Service - was spotty. We had some good experiences with our Dining room waiter. The staff in Camp Carnival was friendly. Other than that, the service was what you would expect from a 'bottom of the barrel' cruise line. The room steward was generally absent. The other staff was ok. Nobody went out of their way for anything.
Cleanliness - This was a major let down for me. The ship is old. The decor is horrible. Bathrooms looked like cesspools. Missing tiles, peeling paint. People leaving empty drink glasses in the elevators. You name it. This ship was generally filthy. This is definitely a deal breaker.
Embarkation/Disembarkation - Was very smooth. Best part of this cruise experience.
The general ambience on the ship was loud. The music by the pools was blaring all the time. The loud drunk people in the stateroom hallways etc.
I don't think I will ever go on a Carnival cruise again. I know the prices are cheap but if you can afford to spend a little bit extra, then, NCL or Royal Caribbean may be a better option.