We are in our late 40's and took our 17 y/o son on this cruise for his high school graduation present. We drove to Long Beach, and easily found the Carnival parking garage. We arrived about 12:30 p.m. Embarkation was so fast, we were on the ship within 10 minutes. Once on board, we were greeted personally, and directed to a buffet lunch on the Lido Deck. The staterooms are not available until 1:30 p.m. We had read this on the Cruise Critics board, so purposely did not have much carry on stuff to lug around while we explored. Our balcony room was large, and we enjoyed the space. However, the mattresses were very hard, and the furnishings were well worn. We seldom saw our steward, but she kept our cabin clean and supplied. The ship is showing her age and in need of refurbishment - nothing major, just alot of wear and tear. We found everyone working on board to be friendly and helpful.
The food in the buffet was mediocre, the pizza was good, the deli was good, the hamburgers on the Lido Deck were okay, the dining room food was only slightly better than the buffet, however, our waiter was wonderful. He kept our glasses full, spent time talking with us, brought out different entrees, offered suggestions, and made the cramped dining room accommodations easier to take. I was pleasantly surprised with the production shows. They were terrific. The singers and dancers were fantastic. We really give high marks to these performers. The comedians were pretty good too. The band in the Leonardo Room was good. Shopping seemed limited on board. Lots of photos taken and we did buy some that turned out good. We never smelled cigarette smoke while on board. Catalina was okay. We did the museum tour of the casino. The tenders were quick and we only waited 5 minutes to go to the island, and had no wait upon our return to the ship. Ensenada was okay. We prowled the shops for several hours. There were lots of activities on board.
Our son enjoyed the O2 club despite his initial reluctance to join in as he thought he would be too old. He ended up having a super time. The younger children were kept sequestered away somewhere on the ship. We ran into a few of them on their scavenger hunts. They all seemed to be having a blast. Our son used the gym and said it was good. We had a scalp, neck, and shoulder Frangipani massage that was so good, I almost melted. It was VERY VERY good. There was no push to buy any product, but we ended up buying some massage oil because we loved it.
Embarkation was fine. We had priority tags since we had a category 12 cabin, but opted to hang out on the ship as long as we could. You do have to be out of your cabin by 8:30 a.m. We had a leisurely breakfast and then relaxed and waited until we were almost the last ones off the ship. Immigration was fast for some. We were in a line that was very slow for some reason. However, we were soon at our car, and heading home to 105 degree heat. UGH. We had nice weather on the cruise, a little cool at night. Our fellow passengers were also friendly and included young, old, and in between. Our son made some friends. Our bill was correct for our S&S charges. We tipped our waiter and cabin steward extra. I was always able to find a spot on deck to be alone and gaze out over the ocean. Sometimes I felt like the only one on board. That was nice. The service was excellent. The tables were quickly cleared in the buffet eating areas. You could always find someone to take your drink order. The only thing I was disappointed in was the food. While there was plenty of it, the quality was definitely mediocre. Breakfasts were a little better. I don't think the category 12 room was worth the extra bucks. We didn't spend much time in it. We ordered special decorations for our son, and they were up and looked great when we got to our cabin. We are going to try another cruise line next year, hoping to book a newer ship.