This is our 6th cruise, 1st with Carnival. All others have been with NCL. We are a couple in our early 30's not traveling with children.
Travel to Embarkation port: We traveled from NH via Concord Coach to Boston South Station, then Mega Bus to NYC. Free parking in Concord. 1.5 hours to Boston, quick transfer, 5 hours to NYC. We grabbed a cab to the port. Be sure to get a marked yellow cab for transfer! We got into a "cab" that was a private service and ended up paying more than we should have.
Embarkation: We upgraded to an ocean suite that gives you priority boarding. We arrived at the port at noon, gave our bags to a porter, and breezed through security and into a special room where we waited no longer than 5 minutes to be checked in. We were then immediately able to go straight on board.
Public Areas: The ship is fairly flashy with lots of pink and glittering lights. I've read complaints about all the pink...but it's a cruise ship, it's supposed to be a little over the top. The lobby was a great place to gather or people watch throughout the cruise. The covered pool area was great since we left from NYC in Feb...it kept the area usable on the colder days. The aft pool and hot tubs were for adults only and there is also a separate lounging area for adults only towards the front of the ship. The casino is standard, smoking is allowed and you do need to travel through it to get to some bars and lounges, but you can skip that by going up or down one level.
Entertainment: The evenings were active with lots of choices for shows and entertainers. We did not go to any of the main shows simply because we were busy with other things. The piano bar was one of our favorite spots in the evening. Jeremy was on the piano most nights and did a fantastic job learning new songs that were requested and keeping everyone happy with their requests. Chris played guitar in there a couple nights and was also a great time. The comedy club was great, we visited the adults only shows (they are not at all appropriate for children) but they do offer earlier family shows. We did not find that there was much offered during the day. They had the standard Bingo games, but not much beyond that. They only offer a DJ during the day on the pool deck that mostly plays today's dance music. It ended up just being background noise that no one paid attention to. (When we left Port Canaveral, Disney was right next to us have a sail away party...we were pretty jealous of all the fun they were having...our sail away party ended up being the DJ and 3 uninterested crew members doing line dances).
Dining: The buffet was decent. Something for everyone. Definitely try the Indian food (Tandoori) and the Mongolian Wok at lunch. We enjoyed breakfast in the buffet and the MDR. Each option was fine with french toast, eggs, omelets, etc. Dinner in the MDR was good. Plenty of options and some fun and different items to try. Everything came out fast, hot, and nicely plated. Definitely give the warm chocolate melting cake a try! We dined in the Steak House one night. The food was very good. It's a chance for the chefs to spend more time on each meal, so there is a extra flair to the dishes. We had the escargot, lobster bisque, surf and turf, the chocolate sampler and the cheesecake. Everything was delicious. (we were able to take the cheesecake to go and save it for later)
Chef's Table: This is a special event that they do not advertise during the cruise. You should book in advance by emailing the Maitre d' in the steak house. Cost is $75 per person and is very well worth it. There were 9 in our group for dinner. We were escorted to the galley by the head chef during dinner service and had a small tour. The (10-12 course) menu is executed by the head chef and two assistants. The food was incredible! The care they took in preparing the meal, the passion for the food, the attention to detail. It was amazing and so worth it. A highlight of our trip.
Ports: Port Canaveral- we took a taxi to Cocoa Beach. A nice clean beach to spend the day on a relax. Nassau- We walked to Junkanoo Beach. Beach is OK, lots of broken glass (and a condom) but the water was clean and there aren't too many locals bugging you. We also stopped at Senor Frogs for a drink. It's a good time. Freeport- The port is a shipping port, so not very pretty. You will have to take a taxi to go anywhere interesting. We took an excursion through Carnival to the perfume factory and Sands Brewery. A fun stop for some decent local Bahamian Beer. You can search for the same tour and book by yourselves and save $ that way. Stopped at Senor Frogs again for more fun!
Cabin: We had an ocean suite. Larger balcony, very large bathroom with double sinks and jetted tub. Tons of storage. Definitely worth it.
Disembarkation: We chose to check our bags for no real reason and decided that we should have just done the easy walk off. It wasn't terrible though, we were able to leave the ship just after 9, quickly found our bags and breezed through customs.
Summary: We had a great time. We would choose Carnival again, but would also go back to NCL.