First off my expectations were fairly low as this is Carnival. The ship itself is very small and very dated. The crew is fairly angry and over their jobs. There are a few bright spots, but they were few and far between. Let me break dow the experience by category.
Pre-boarding and checkin - We were fortunate to have priority boarding which did help control the experience. If you are looking for smiles and people who are excited about your cruise as you are, don't count on it.
Boarding - Most of the elevators were closed for baggage delivery which takes way longer than it should. As a priority boarder our bags arrived after sailing.
Food - If you are thinking you will have great food on this line, think again. There are very few options onboard. The main dining room is not great. The food is equitable to Chili's/Applebees etc. The service is slow and your food arrives in plastic overed plates - like hospital food. Yay. The second option is the Lido bar which is like a giant buffet of cold and low quality food. As in may reviews the best part was the Pizza bar. Late night dining is limited to the Pizza Bar. The Taste Bar is some odd food stand thing they put in a corner near the casino that only service small plates at certain times - living up to it's name. Nick and Nora's was outstanding! Well worth the $35 per person as it allowed you to escape the fast food locations. Obviously not everyone is going to want to spend it, but if you can budget into your trip it will be make you much happier.
Bars - there are several - most closed most of the time which is odd. The usuals that are open are usually packed and Carnival is obsessed with loud, live music at every bar. If you are hoping for a conversation, it won't happen. Service is Carnival trade mark slow which is odd as it is a great profit center for them. Don't expect anyone to come to your table or lounge chair with drinks as there is very little table lounge staff. We counted 2 people for three pools and the average was being asked if needed a drink every 90 minutes. Also there is very little lounge seating by the pools which makes "fun days at sea" difficult.
Excursions - lots of choose from, very unorganized and staff is pretty uninvolved. Many were cancelled the day before and left angry people. Oddly on the Carnival website everything showed sold out but when we checked onboard everything was "wide open".
Retail - two stores on the miracle mile. One for watches and jewelry which was super expensive compared to home. We shopped the 75% off sale on the last day and was comparing online while in the store. Most things at 75% off were double what there were in stores at home. Other store is carnival garb and candy.
Overall - If you are looking for a relaxing cruise with great food and drink and even marginal services - LOOK ON. If you looking to relive your spring break in a bad way - book it.
Not much to do there unless you want to fish or take a water taxi. Your arrival is like walking into a flea market. It is super packed. The day we were there four cruise ships pulled up with us. They have to use tenders to take you to the port which is time consuming. HUGE amounts of college kids on the beaches.
DO NOT book with carnival as it is way more expensive. If you book directly with vallarta adventures it is $90 for the extreme tour. The only difference is you avoid the chaos at the port trying to get on shuttles and you take your own taxi to there office where everyone from the ship is heading . It is approx $2 per person and less than 5 minutes away. From the office you are taken on your excursion with the cruise people. When the excursion ends, if you booked with Carnival, they take you back to the boat, if you booked direct they take you back to the office. Since we were the only two people directly booked, they took us back to boat with the rest of the cruisers which was great.