This was my third cruise with Carnival and it was OK; a bit above average ... but that is all. We were really needing to get away for a vacation (it had been several years since we had gotten away) so at the point we were at in our lives, anything was a welcome change.
The port in New Orleans is an easy-on / easy-off kind of place and the porters really make the difference here. Tip them $1 a bag (or more if you like) and your luggage will be well taken care of. Remember to ensure you remove your ID, boarding pass, etc. and have your bag tags affixed before you get to the port. Also, if you can get priority boarding (with a suite it is automatic) by all means DO IT ... the time you save is WELL worth the extra few dollars you will spend in advance. There really isn't a faster process for getting through customs on the return unless you use a porter and again, tip them for their effort.
The Serenity area in the aft of the ship was a perfect place to relax and let the hours drift by, although our final day of sea was rainy so we were stuck inside with everyone else (no worries there, just a comment but you could tell cabin fever was killing some folks). The night-time shows on this boat were, in a word, TERRIBLE. I have been on other Carnival ships before and the shows were really good but these two (one was called "Win" and whatever the other one was that had to do with the 80's) were absolutely horrible. I've seen better shows at a middle school with teenagers singing and dancing. Really ... they were VERY bad. The comedy club was great and the fact that it was non-smoking was really a pleasant treat. There are plenty of places on the ship to just sit down and relax, and yes, even plenty of quiet places as well if you spend a few minutes just wandering around on Day 1 you will find them.
The food was OK, but in most cases it seemed like they were trying to elegant when what they pulled off was the equivalent of something like a Longhorn stake-house environment/menu. The service was pretty decent, and in most cases very attentive, but getting the bar staff to come back to the table was a constant struggle for our entire table several nights of the week. On previous cruises our wait staff had the beverage at the table when we showed up, and this one just seemed to go through the motions. I am not certain I am a big fan of the gratuities being added in BEFORE we got on board (by the way that is new) because in some cases, they really weren't earned. Perhaps that is why the service was mediocre in the dining room (and without much effort) ... because they already knew they were being "tipped"? Just a random thought, but it does match with the effort we had.
Our room was a typical junior suite and our housekeeping staff was on target. They were always prompt and had our room arranged each time we stepped out. I swear, it's like they live under the bed or something (smile). This staff was fantastic and always met our needs/requests with a smile ... to include getting all my shirts pressed on the first night (the luggage did a real number on them - LOL)!
Overall this was a good vacation for us and we will sail on Carnival again ... perhaps though (since this is my third cruise on the Fantasy class ships) we will "upgrade" to a newer one. If you are a couple looking to just go and relax this is a pretty good cruise for the price, just don't expect "heaven on the seas" and you will enjoy yourself just fine. Happy cruising!