This was my fourth cruise (2nd with Carnival), and my wife's 11th (1st with Carnival).
Embarkation out of Norfolk was a cut above any port we've ever left from. The Half Moone Cruise Terminal is beautiful, and right downtown, surrounded by restaurants, museums, and local sights.
The ship was wonderful. One of our favorite things about it was that, even when there were huge deck parties or loud events, we could always find a quiet corner to sit and enjoy some peace and a sea view. One of our favorite spots was above the Lido Deck, by Fish & Chips.
We were very impressed by the dining options. We were at the late seating in the Golden Restaurant for dinner. Waitstaff was excellent, especially Peter, our head waiter. Food quality in MDR was very good. The Lido was a cut above what we are used to on a cruise; we especially enjoyed the variety of options, including Blue Iguana Cantina, Guy's Burgers, and Fish & Chips. The Ceviche is excellent! And for breakfast, get something at the Blue Iguana. Short lines and great food. We had dinner one night in the steakhouse. I ordered the lamb, but it was so tough as to be inedible. Before I even asked, the waitress noted that I didn't seem to be enjoying it, and offered me an alternative (Surf & Turf). They also refunded our dinner there, again without being asked. Very impressed by the service! Lastly, the Taste Bar is a nice snack stop to get some tapas before dinner; however, I prefer Sushi, which we had on the Pride.
The entertainment options were varied and well done, but mostly not our cup of tea.
The Serenity area was spectacular and large; the gigantic hammocks were awesome! And the two hot-tubs at the very front of the ship were a great place to go on a sea day.
The water slide is surprisingly good. Once we discovered it, we rode it many times. If you give yourself a good launch, and then straighten your body, you can practically fly through it.
Pools were good, but often crowded. The aft pool was heated, and quite enjoyable in the evening. The different colored lights in the pools at night were also a nice touch.
We did find the decorations, overall, to be a bit garish and over-the-top. But it didn't detract much from the experience, and architecturally it's a beautiful ship. Our one complaint about the layout is that on the Conquest-Class ships, the midship restaurant forces you to go up or down a deck to get around it.
Overall, we were both very impressed and plan to cruise with Carnival out of Norfolk again in 2015, when the line returns with the Splendor. Can't wait!