DW and I sailed for the second time, this time to St. John/NB on 8/30/07.
Embarkation at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal (in New York City, there is a new Brooklyn one, too) was surprisingly quick compared to Miami 2 1/2 years ago. We arrived at around 1:15 p.m. and were in our cabin no later than 2:50 p.m.
Being non-US citizens we had to abandon our passports. We did not need them going ashore in St John, and got them back during the debarkation process (see below). On our first cruise (also Carnival), we were allowed to keep our passports. I guess, the rules have changed.
I may be a bit fussy but the cabin was not entirely clean: I found a streak of tomato sauce (or pizza topping?) on the door of the cabinet closest to the bed. Inside that cabinet was a dried piece of melon. The toilet seat was dirty ... it was dirt that did not come off even when I rubbed very hard with a moist paper towel. But otherwise everything was fine including a supply of extra blankets (not that we needed them) and two bathrobes.
We had dinner in the dining room (Atlantic) each night, and found the food very good. We did not get the requested dining time but did not make any effort to change it. We were a bit surprised that one of our table mates ordered the steak EACH night although the selection on the menu was different each night.
The head waiter Roberto was very friendly and always in high spirits, whereas his assistant, Erika, kept a low-profile but was also very efficient. We were not addressed by our names, which we did not mind. We could not order a drink with either Roberto or Erika but had address our request to a third person, which we thought was rather strange. So at times it took a while until you were served your drink.
Speaking of drinks, the cocktails (I tried the Banana Daiquiri and Pina Colada) were GREAT! An excellent value as opposed to a bottle of beer, which is almost as much!
All the other food we had (mostly from the Mediterranean Buffet) was pretty good, too, except for the pizza, which was rather mediocre.
Things we did not like: Smokers were omnipresent with just a few exceptions (e. g. dining room and library) as was LOUD music. It was very hard to find a place where no music or music at an acceptable volume could be heard. When we passed the trio playing in the "corridor" alongside the casino we had to cover our ears. The library is small but nice. But why is there not sufficient light in a room were people read a books? I am not asking for reading lights on every table ... a good place to read is by the cafe, where you can buy great pastries at a reasonable price. DW liked the cappuccino and I liked the chocolate-covered strawberries (3 for just $2 - in Manhattan you may pay $3 for 1).
The cruise director, Malcolm, was great. Even the debarkation talk was very funny.
Debarkation for non-US citizens was a hassle. At 8:00 a.m. we were supposed to meet with the other non-US citizens in the Arctic Lounge (I believe that is what the lounge was called). After around 45 minutes, we were asked to proceed to deck 2. The line was LONG. It took us about an hour to get from the lounge to the exit door on deck 2, another 20 minutes to get our passports back outside the ship, immigration and customs were a breeze. A tip or every non-US citizen: Once in the lounge, choose a seat as close to the entrance/exit as possible. If we had done that, we could have saved more than an hour. Next time, we know.
In my opinion, you get a very good value for what you pay.
Would we sail with Carnival a third time? Yes!