The ship was lovely. Very clean. Did not smell funky in any way. Rooms were nice. We had 2 rooms w/ connecting doors, so we did not have any problems w/ lack of space. More than enough places to unpack clothes and stuff suitcases under the beds. Room steward was always on top of everything and all stewards were very pleasant. Nothing to complain about.
Water in the pools were cold, so the kids hung out in the jacuzzi. It was difficult to find pool chairs, but no big deal cuz you could always find a table and chair.
Kids loved Camp Carnival. I did find it a bit annoying that they closed at various intervals throughout day...even on port days. Which means, if our kids did not want to go on an excursion and chose to stay in the Camp, we had to be on the ship by 4:45 to pick them up from the Camp until they reopened at 5:45. Thus, losing time on the island. This would probably be my major complaint, since we had to do a lot of running around picking up/dropping off. Also, the counselors did not seem to really "enjoy" the kids, it seemed more that they were doing their job. On Royal Caribbean, the counselors were all doing some sort of college education relating to children...and you could tell the difference w/ how they interacted w/ the kids and parents. But my 2 older boys made friends that they have already emailed since returning home!!
The crew was overall wonderful. We loved Nyoman and Ayu, our Platinum Dining waiters. Mr. V, the Maitre D' was accommodating and personable. In fact, we even exchanged numbers and emails with them. Since we live in Orlando, we offered to pick them up anytime between sailings from Pt. Canaveral, and take them to the mall, shopping, etc.We usually never eat in the dining room, because w/ kids it is easier to eat buffet style. However, this time, we ate every nite (except 1) in the dining room because it was easier to be served w/ 4 kids than to keep running into the buffet line. Let me start right off by saying the food was VERY good. Not in the buffet line cuz it's never easy to cook in bulk. But the sitdown dinners were surprisingly good. Better than anyother cruise. Must try the melting cake...yum yum. Lobster and shrimp were not "smelly" at all. Everything tasted fresh. We were on the 2nd floor of Platinum Dining Rm. and LOVED it. Loved the waiters, who remembered all our names, who knew what the kids wanted for dinner and would order it for us before we arrived. Loved the bar waiter-who always had our drinks WAITING for us. Loved the songs they sang. Felt a pang of sadness on our last nite. Believe it or not, I am NOT a sentimental person or one to easily bond with others.
As a family, we also took advantage of the backdrop photos they setup every night. We did not plan it, because I had no desire to fight w/ my kids while on vacation to dress up for pics. However, while we were walking around we would stop and take some pics. Even in casual clothes, the pics were nice. We actually were able to pull the kids away from the Camp long enough to take one family pic! No sitting fee, no obligation to buy, and very professional looking. I do admit, it is hard not to buy pics of our adorable (!) kids. This is where we spent most of our money on the cruise, but when else will I have time to take professional photos of everyone. I do highly recommend that you plan on this. Remember, the lines are shortest later in the evening.
With respect to the ports we stopped at, we did not take any excursions offered through Carnival. At each island, we were able to make arrangements for a taxi to take us on a private tour of the island (at approx. $20 per person, no charge for kids). This was safe and relaxing.
One last thing, they do offer on a couple days to do a bag of laundry for $15. As much as you can fit in their laundry bag, which I didn't think was too bad considering I was on vacation and why do laundry!
Please feel free to email if you have any questions.