This was our family's first cruise together, I had cruised on Premier's Big Red Boat 20 years ago. Embarkation was so simple. We arrived at the terminal at about 11:00, and were on board within 10 minutes. As our room was not ready until 1:30, we went to Tiffany's and had lunch. The Lifeboat drill was easier than I remember from my past experience. However, there were some very rude and obnoxious people seated next to us at our muster station. We felt sorry for the Carnival staff - they were given a really hard time by one drunk guest who REFUSED to put on his lifejacket because it "stunk." After the muster drill, the ship set sail. Soon we were in VERY ROUGH seas, the boat was rocking a lot. Many people were sick and vomiting in the halls and public areas. My only complaint is that Carnival did not have any garbage cans that were accessible for these people.
The food was good. We ate at Tiffany's for Breakfast and Lunch - I only wish they had a greater variety. We ate in the Dining Room for dinner each night. Our waiter, Gembong, was wonderful. Our children (7&10) insisted that we eat in the dining room each night, because they wanted to see Gembong. The food was great - we especially enjoyed the Ribs, Prime Rib, and Salmon. And, the desserts were also great - especially the Chocolate Melting Cake.
The entertainment was ok - the only show that we really felt was great was the Motown show. The other shows were a little boring at times.
Our first port of call was Grand Turk. Although we arrived late due to the rough seas of the day prior, Carnival gave us an extra hour on the island. We went on the Ultimate Snorkel excursion - it was a wonderful experience. The dive staff were very helpful and knowledgeable - we would definitely do this excursion again! Margaritaville has a very nice pool area - our children enjoyed swimming in the fresh water pool.
Our second port was Half Moon Cay. As other reviewers mentioned, the disembarkation was horribly disorganized. We got up early and were given a sticker for the first tender. However, with only 1 tender working we waited about 3 hours before we finally got off the ship! There were a lot of very angry cruisers all crammed in the gangway - we feel Carnival handled this poorly. Instead of calling down the first 3 tender numbers, they should have first called all those who had excursions booked. However, once on the island we did have a fun day. The beach is beautiful, and our children had a lot of fun snorkeling off the beach. After lunch, (the food was just ok), we decided to walk along the nature trails. We found a lot of lizards, exotic birds, and a couple of owls. We were on the last tender off the island, we didn't want to leave!
Our last stop was Nassau. We booked the Dolphin Encounter through Carnival. Once on Blue Lagoon Island, we were given the opportunity to upgrade to the swim, which we did. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience! We had a wonderful time, and want to do it again! After the swim, we went back to Nassau and shopped the Straw Market. It was too hot and crowded, and the kids just wanted to get back to the ship to swim and eat. We spent the afternoon swimming on the ship - this is one of our best memories of the cruise.
Disembarkation took a little longer than we expected, however we didn't mind. We were in no hurry to get off. Overall, this was a great cruise, and we will cruise Carnival again. However, next time we may try a larger ship on a longer itinerary.