This was my 4th cruise, my wife's 9th and our first on Carnival - and it will be the last.
Check in (compared to other lines) seemed very disorganized - people were all over the place and it was hard to even squeeze in to the counter, never mind seeing who the next available agent was.
We walked onboard and was quite shocked at the decor. We are used to the decor on RCCL and Princess - so the red, white and blue and golden eagles everywhere was not exactly appealing to Canadians or anybody who wasn't from the US.
I'm not sure how they can be classified as "the Fun Ships" when they close down their hot tubs and pools at 8pm. Your options are eating, gambling or a show. Personally - I like to sit in the hot tub at 3 am and enjoy the peace and quiet! The sports deck was also closed very early.
The shows and talent were very good but seating in the theatre can be a nuisance during a popular show as a lot of seats are obstructed by support pillars.
The food - mediocre at best. There was no presentation to speak of, the food quality was not great and the servers weren't too interested in anything but getting us in and out as fast as possible. The "Gala Buffet" was a total joke - especially seeing what Royal Caribbean does on their ships!
The casino was obscenely loose on the first day - my wife made $150 on a $10 and I made $50 off 2 quarters! After that - no luck :)
The LED signs everywhere were not only hard to read in some cases - but sore on the eyes!
The room was OK, nothing spectacular.
The itinerary included Grand Cayman, Roatan, Belize City and Costa Maya. Grand Cayman is what it is - a tourist stop! Roatan was shocking - poverty stricken and nothing to do there unless doing a shore excursion or taxi ride. Belize City was OK - did the river cruise and Altun Ha. The Mayan site was something to see - but the river trip was shady. The boat was like a giant unstable bathtub with no washrooms and packed like a tin of sardines. Costa Maya was disappointing - and obviously there for cruise tourists only. A straw hat for $35 US? A bowl for $60 US? A dress for $50 US? No haggling??? Horrid compared to Cozumel!
The cruise director did a hard sell on the "benefits" of self disembarkation. DO NOT BE FOOLED!!!! We waited, along with 1000 other people jammed in stairwells and elevators with multiple pieces of heavy luggage. It took almost an HOUR to get down 2 flights of stairs. After that - we waited in the terminal in a mass line of people for one escalator! After waiting in that line for another 1/2 hour in the heat - any relaxation we may have had was quickly gone and we were getting irate. I asked for a glass of ice water from their cart and they said it was for staff only! I told him bluntly where Carnival could put their ice water! After that - customs was a breeze and we were off back to the Great White North.
Take my advice!!! Let them take your bags for you! You can wait in a comfy chair for an hour and avoid the stress and mismanagement of Carnival trying to save a few bucks on baggage handling!
The airport transfer was freaky and the driver had NO personality - not to mention somebody having an "accident" on the bus.
Carnival did not meet any of our expectations - it was mediocre, not very fun and not very relaxing.