We are me, my husband, and my daughter who is 17. We have cruised Carnival more than a few times and we booked this cruise as both a celebration for my birthday as well as my daughter's graduation gift.
We flew in the night before, as we live in AZ, and stayed at the Comfort Suites Port Everglades. We called a cab in the morning to take us to the port (shuttle from the hotel charged more than a cab did) and arrived at the port around 10:45.
Check in was seamless, which is high praise in Port Everglades. We have had some cruises from there that were just awful for embarkation, so this one was nice and easy. We were on the ship by 11:45. The ship is one of my favorites in terms of deck plans - we've been on the Liberty before which is the sister ship, so we knew what the layout would be. Lots of open deck space, never fighting for a chair.
We had lunch on Lido, which was ok. That would be the theme of Lido dining unfortunately throughout the cruise. Nothing was great there. That was especially disappointing, as I feel Carnival has gone downhill on the food front.
Nassau was our first stop and it poured just about the entire time we were there. The next day was Half Moon Cay which we liked for location, but the food was not good. Burgers were burned, no real selection for anyone who does not eat meat (I don't). The beach area was nice though and we had hoped to have a nice beach day. Unfortunately, the weather turned quickly to a thunderstorm after lunch, and by thunderstorm, I mean lightning striking the water. This is a tender port, so we went into line for the tender boats to go back. The organization of the lines to go back on the boats was terrible. We were in line for one, it filled up, and they directed us to then go into the line on the other side for the other boat. Well, the majority of the people very far behind us chose to cut us off and go to that line too. It was an absolute mess from an organization point of view. This needs to be addressed and fixed.
On the way back to the ship, it was pouring and, as I said, a severe storm was over us. Being on a metal tender boat in the middle of the ocean was probably not the best of ideas. I don't blame Carnival for the weather (at all) but I do think that perhaps this stop should have been cancelled. This was an absolute safety issue and when I asked the crew if they normally allow passengers off in a storm such as this, all of them said no. The gangway to the tender boat actually became dislodged about halfway through our tendering back on the ship, and all of the passengers of the tender boat were standing waiting while they repaired it with the lightning striking not far from us.
Grand Turk was a nice day and we just walked around the port area, went to the beach, and relaxed.
On board entertainment -- Macio, the comedian, was absolutely the best part of this cruise. The other comedian was ok, but Macio packed the comedy club full every single night. It was standing room only. The production shows were fantastic. The past few cruises we have been on, production shows have just been ok. On the Freedom, they were very well-done, and I enjoyed all of them. Love and Marriage show was also fun as always.
The new areas of the ship were done nicely.
Teen Club - this is one of my daughter's favorite parts of cruising and, unfortunately, the last time she will be able to participate in the kids groups as she will be 18 later this year. The Teen Club was not well organized. There was no mention in the capers about the times that it would be open, no mention of even where to go to sign them up. We passed by Club O2 after we were on board the first day and no notice on the door as to where to go to sign her up. Not as well put together as past cruises we have been on.
Our waiters and cabin steward were great, we were called by name every time we met them in the hallways or around the ship, which was nice, since it's been many years since that has happened on Carnival.
Overall, the cruise was good, but not fantastic. We have seen things be better handled on other Carnival ships so some things were disappointing and didn't live up to what we expected. Other things, such as the production shows, were excellent and above expectations. We won't stop cruising with Carnival over it but we do hope that these items that were below expectation can be fixed.