This was my wife's and I third cruise with Carnival and first with a balcony.
Embarkation: This could not have been easier. The longest line was to drop off our language. You need to know that my wife is on a walker and while I parked the car the porter stayed with her. I thought that was very nice. Inside the lines moved very quickly; just remember to keep out your identification. Also, do your Carnival Funpass before you go and you should be at the counter for about 2 minutes.
Room: We had room 8381 which is on the 8th floor. We were really excited about having a balcony and loved every minute on the balcony. We did have some problems in the room though. First our A/C didn't have enough power to blow out the cold air, so the room never really cooled off. We called the Purser's desk 5 DIFFERENT times to get this fixed but nothing really came of it. People would come and check and say it was cold, but they didn't understand when we told them it just wasn't coming out strong enough. So I took matters into my own hands and took the vent cover off. That way we could get as much cold air into the room. Also, having the room on the 8th floor meant noise all night because it is right below the Lido deck. Our room steward was named Natan and he was great. He even gave us his own bottle opener until I could buy one on the ship.
Ship: The ship was great. Some reviewers wrote about it being decorated gaudy. We didn't feel this way. There was something for everyone to do at all times. We didn't make it to any nighttime dance shows because of our late dinner seating, but we really didn't care since we have seen these kinds of shows before. All the comedians were very funny. We tried to get on the Not So Newlywed game, but we didn't get picked. We went to Karaoke a few times and had a good time. The casino was nice, but I had noooooo luck. We enjoyed all the bars. There was one poolside bartender named Maria who was awesome. We asked her how many kids were on the boat. Her response was "too many".
Food: The food was very good. The only thing is if you like you meat medium order it medium well. I saw some cows still moving on the plate. Our waiter was very good and always brought extra food out. One night I had 5 shrimp cocktails because he just kept bringing them. One tip--if you want more than one thing, order it right away. This way the servers don't have to take extra trips to the kitchen. Also, everyone must try the chocolate melting cake. My wife has already been on-line looking for the recipe. We went to the supper club twice on this trip and I highly recommend it for all adults. I had a beef rib chop that was to die for.
Ports: First was Nassau. We have been to Nassau before so we didn't do much here. My wife went to the spa on the ship and I just walked around a couple of shops and one row of the Straw Market. This is something you really don't have to do.
Second was St. Thomas. We love this port!! One day I want to live there. We booked a tour through Sean's Taxi Service. We booked this on our own, because some friends used him. I would use him again and again. He took us everywhere and when other tours would pull up that guide would say "10 minutes". Sean just said, "Let me know when you are ready." He only charged $25 a person (we had a group of six) and we had him the whole day. Here is his email for anyone that is interested: firstname.lastname@example.org. The landscape in St. Thomas is beautiful. The water at the beaches was great. There was even one time we pulled over and Sean showed us bay leaves just growing by the road.
The third port was St. Maarten. I thought St. Thomas was pretty; St. Maarten went to a whole new level. Here I took an ATV tour that was fun. I saw a lot of the island and the group got time at a beach. The ride was great. After the ATV tour I went into Phillipsburg for lunch. My dad, brother and I ate at the Fireshouse Bar on the beach. They had the best conch fritters I have ever eaten. I believe the next time we are in St. Maarten we will just hang at the beach. It was that beautiful. My wife went with some friends and did a bus shopping/beach tour. She said they had a very good time but it was a little bumpy. The sea days were nice; a little rain here or there nothing big.
Debarkation: This went pretty smoothly. We waited in the Amber Palace and by the time our floor was called it took about 45 minutes. One note--friends of ours had the tags ripped off their bags and they stood around waiting for almost 2 hours before someone told them they should go to a different area to look for their bags. All in all a very good trip and we are already looking forward to the next cruise.