Who we are: We are a family of three. My husband and I are in our early 40s and our daughter is 9. We've been on two previous cruises one doing the Eastern Caribbean on the Glory and one doing the Canadian Maritimes and New England on HAL. We are mostly port cruisers, in that we pick itineraries primarily by where they are going not so much by ship etc.
We originally booked an interior room but just hours before we left for Florida I got a call from Carnival offering us an inexpensive upgrade to a balcony room so we took the upgrade. I'm sure Carnival was hoping to convince us that we should never cruise again without a balcony but to be honest we didn't use it much. I would however get an ocean view room so we could get the same room lay out. I'm not sure we would have enjoyed the smaller cabin much.
Over all I enjoyed our experience in the MDR. There are, however, glitches that need to be worked out with the new menu. It would be nice if all the available dishes were printed on the menu. Some coasters would be a good edition to the table seating on casual nights. And there are definitely some issues with service on the more formal nights. I didn't like that they didn't take our dessert orders. These were frequently the nights I would have liked something lighter (given it was 3 courses instead of 2) and I missed my hot tea and DH his decaf. We enjoyed the pasta but they didn't ask if we wanted it either. If someone didn't care for pasta, it would have still arrived. And I would really like to see some indication of calories or which meals are lighter on the menu.
The portion sizes varied wildly from dish to dish. This made it hard to judge what to order. For example: When I ordered tilapia I got one medium sized fillet. There was nothing else on the plate and I had to order side dishes to go with it. The same night my daughter ordered veal Parmesan. It was two large pieces of veal with a hearty helping of spaghetti. Easily three to four times the amount of food then was on my plate. We saw the same thing several other nights both with apps and main courses. I know that on a cruise ship you can always order another (although we might have missed evening entertainment if we had) and no one is going to chide you for not cleaning your plate but this still seemed out of whack.
Another thing I found took away from the dinning experience was the interruptions to our meal by photographers and waiters trying to sell shots. I really wasn't interested (in fact I never saw anyone indulging in the shots at dinner) and I resented the interruptions.
My daughter didn't like the kids club as much as she had on other cruise lines. There were lots of kids around but few in her age group seemed to be going up to the camp in the evenings. At 9 she is at the bottom on the 9-11 age group but she often felt like the activities planned were to young for her. Things were better on the at sea days. I think part of the problem was the vary scarce program that was distributed. Often activities were described in a single word that didn't really describe much. They also pushed the Night Owls program, saving some of the coolest sounding activities for then.
Dr E was a very different personality from the more sedate Cruise Director we had on other cruises but we found we really enjoyed his presence on the ship. Our whole family start to jokingly use his turns of phrase like "chow chow double chow" and I enjoyed hearing him sing out good mornings. I'd been warned before I left that Carnival had too many announcements but I didn't find that.
Many evenings I was hard pressed to find much to do. Most of the entertainment venues didn't seem to have any activity before 10 or 11 but we were often winding up our evening then. Most of the shows in the main theater were of little to no interest. I might have seen one of the comedians but I didn't feel like lining up for 20 min to get in. Perhaps Carnival should consider putting some of the comedians on in the main show room and move say the Love and Marriage show to a smaller venue. We watched the movies on Lido several times but it was windy, the pool was cold, there were technical glitches with the screen and the movie quality varied widely.