This was our first cruise and we weren't really sure what to expect. We ended up booking our flight and transportation to the terminal independently of Carnival, as it was less expensive this way.
Once we got to the terminal, we were able to check in right away (around 11 am) and were on the boat by 12:30, eating lunch. Rooms were ready by 1:30 and our luggage arrived within a reasonable time. One thing we really liked about the terminal was the constant reminder (even from the porters!) to have our travel documents ready.
We found our cabin to be plenty big, although taking a shower without flooding the bathroom took a little practice! We loved the towel animals and our room steward was great about getting anything we needed. Our room was cleaned twice a day and was done quickly. We never felt rushed to leave our room so it could be cleaned as you sometimes are in hotels.
The food was excellent and our service was terrific. The waiters really take the time to learn your names, food preferences and beverage preferences. We were seated in the Platinum dining room, with an 8pm seating. It was perfect for us because we were able to spend all day in port and then have a late start on days at sea. One downside: We were always too full for the midnight buffet!
Entertainment was good...lounge singers were somewhat under par and the shows ranged from fair to great. We loved the karaoke in the Ebony Cabaret!
A few tips: Don't waste money on the Fountain Fun Card. We didn't use it nearly enough for it to be worth it. Also we found the spa to be somewhat pushy in trying to sell products rather than allowing us to relax and enjoy our appointments. Also, be aware of excursion times. Even though we were in St. Thomas by 10, we couldn't get off the boat until 11:30 and our excursion left at 12:30 and returned by 3:45...and the main street shops close at 5. So needless to say, we could only shop at the pier. But our St. Maarten excursion was cancelled which left a whole day of shopping!!! Make sure you go to the shopping talk, the debarkation talk and if necessary, the excursion talk. They give a lot of info.
Overall, we had a terrific time and would certainly cruise with Carnival again.