Our last cruise was in the 1980's on Royal Caribbean so we have been out of the loop for a while. Took Carnival because it was leaving NYC. My husband, my 6 year old and my 16 year old (celebrating her Sweet 16). We had adjoining cabins, one with a balcony, one interior. Cabins were wonderful - tons of storage space - really well designed. TV stations very, very poor but I don't suppose that is Carnival's fault.
Embarkation was smooth, steward there right away to open the fridge and the door between the adjoining rooms. Points to note: 1) 6 year old loved Camp Carnival but you should know it is in the front of the ship and very rough. If your child gets motion sick, know this in advance. 2) Club O2 for my 16 year old was the absolute pits. Why that group cannot use Frankenstein's Lab for some dances is beyond me. They are tucked away up on 10 with no supervision and hardly any activities. A big let down and definitely not something Carnival should even advertise. 3) Dinners in Bacchus were great but portions are small. 4) Lunch in Bacchus is almost always empty. So why we were seated in an empty restaurant next to another couple (who clearly wanted to be alone) makes no sense. 5) Carnival MUST ENFORCE RULES! I know people are all paying to cruise but guests cannot be allowed to walk all over the ship and on the food lines soaking wet and dripping. 6) I took my 6 year old into the pool one day only to have it bombarded with about 15 drunken people who started to push each other into the pool and were floating a tub of beers amongst them. Come on. Carnival "security" should have moved them to the adult pool at least. Security stands there but does nothing at all. 7) Another day in the pool and we were assaulted with 8 10 year old boys pushing each other in the pool and diving in. Parents obviously dumped them there. Again, a disruption to all others. I'm not against fun but I paid my money too. Carnival basically treats the cruise as a free-for-all. The pool area is a mess unless you just like to drink, eat, and ignore your children all day. 8) What happened to midnight buffets? Just one per cruise these days? What a letdown! 9) If you feel like a romantic stroll on the Lido deck at night, beware. The Club O2 kids leave the club (can't blame them there) and run amok spilling salt shakers and turning over chairs. Again, I'm not against fun but good manners and consideration for others seems to be lacking on this cruise line. 10) Horatio's for dinner adequate. Great for breakfast. 11) Casino is nice - big and fun even if it does take all your money. 12) Room service for the kids was great - they ordered at all hours. 13) Stewards were incredible and almost all staff was excellent. Camp Carnival staff appear a bit gruff at first but kids love them. 14) Pools are small and naturally crowded. Inadequate activities for people who do not want to sit by the pool and eat and drink all day. 15) San Juan was "OK". Walked to the Fort - really interesting and HOT. Senor Frogs, shopping, quite pleasant. 16) St. Thomas as a winner. We took the Sunny Liston tour. $25 per person for 3 hours of shopping, 1 1/2 hours sightseeing, and 2 1/2 hours at the beach. Very reliable and a whole lot of fun. 17) Tortola. My husband and daughter went snorkeling - great experience. I went shopping with my younger daughter. Pleasant for an hour or so. You definitely need a shore excursion on Tortola because there is not much near the dock. 18) Debarkation was weird. They never called our "color". Finally they announced that anyone who was left could leave. 19) Overall the cruise was OK. We will not repeat Carnival though. It's probably incredible for people who live to overeat, overdrink, and dump their kids somewhere else. Not enough to do otherwise and we are not into playing bingo at $20 per card! Art auctions were fun and the seminars. They could have used another island stop as well. Too many days at sea with not enough ship activities. Gym was fine but very crowded - sure, people had nowhere else to go! 20) And one last mention. Why do people feel it is OK to leave their dirty plates/cups in elevators? And yes, someone even left a dirty diaper on a tray in the elevator. We will cruise again but will definitely try another line.