Hello all! The fact that you are on here reading reviews is a great step toward selecting the best cruise for you and enjoying your experience. I am a 31 year old who has cruised 7 times in the past. All of my previous cruises were 7 night voyages. My girlfriend (27) was on her first cruise. I apologize for the delay in writing this, as now I have forgotten some of the details.
We drove from Las Vegas on the day of the trip. If possible, always try to get to the port a day early just to avoid any issues. We used my girlfriend's car, and about a week after the trip, her fuel pump died and it took a couple days to fix. Had that happened on our drive out there, we would have been in big trouble. Nonetheless, with money being an issue for everyone, I'm not sure we would have done it differently in the future, nor would we force that idea onto someone else. We arrived in plenty of time (around 1pm, I think) and were on the ship within about 20 minutes.
I thought the ship was in pretty good condition and was actually pleasantly surprised that a ship this nice would be used for 4 and 5 day voyages. I won't go into too many details here as you can easily find ship maps on carnival.com and videos on youtube, but I will just leave it with saying we had no complaints about the ship and found many things to do.
Our cabin (we had an interior guarantee), was an upper/lower berth. This worked out fine for us. The cabin was plenty big and was very quiet and peaceful. It was comparable to any other cabins I've stayed in. I've never stayed in anything but an interior cabin with the mindset that I'm only sleeping and changing in there, so what's the point. I'd rather go on two interior stateroom cruises than one suite cruise.
As on all previous cruises, there were no lack of activities. We spent most of our daytime at the pool and doing the various games in that area including miniature golf, using the fitness room, and The Amazing Race game, which was a lot of fun.
I was pleasantly surprised with the service on Carnival overall. I don't think I've been on another ship in which such a high percentage of crew members greeted you with a smile. This speaks highly of Carnival management. Our cabin steward, although relatively timid, did his job very well. I think we only saw him the first day, as he executed his duties while we were out. I'm still not sure how they manage that! Our dining room service was efficient, if not friendly. Our assistant waitress seemed cheerier, but perhaps a language barrier prevented her from being more conversational. Our head waiter was very professional, but didn't seem too happy. I felt like I was being an imposition on him when I placed my order. In retrospect, I should have removed the automatic tipping from my account and handed out tips in cash instead to reflect the service received. The maitre'd was helpful in switching us from early seating to late seating (which we had requested in the first place).
Speaking of dining, the food was outstanding. The warm chocolate melting cake made an appearance in front of me on all but one night I believe. I love the cold soups on cruise ships, and these did not disappoint. The quality of food was excellent, and this was surprising considering that Carnival has a reputation for not being great with food. The buffet food, however, was not quite as good. The fresh pasta, salads, and desserts were great, but main entrees and side dishes were ok at best. They had many dishes that just left me puzzled. Again, the couple months since the cruise has affected my memory, but I can say for sure that there were items that they mixed that just didn't work out. It is almost as if they were trying to be too creative and the result was a horrible creation that a six year old might have configured. Most of the time I ended up eating pasta, pizza, or deli sandwiches which were all good. I had a burger once from the grill and that was pretty good too. I think the food in the dining room for lunch would have been better, but my girlfriend is very picky, and wanted to pull what she liked out of the salad bar. In return, she ate at the dining room every night. Compromise, right? :)
We did not do any shore excursions, as we just wanted to enjoy the time in Cabo ourselves. We did the 35-40 minute walk from port to the beach. If you go a little beyond the area where there are a lot of jet skies and bar/restaurants, you will find it much more peaceful. We both got a little too much sun, but had fun enjoying the beach. The water was very cold in April, but we both sucked it up and just went in. Anybody planning on taking a cruise to Cabo should know that the water is warm from about June - December. I've been to Cabo in December a few times, and the water was noticeably warmer. We walked back and made it aboard in plenty of time. Oh - the Mexican authorities will search everyone's bags and confiscate any fruit you have. This was a pain in the butt for us, as we did not want to sample Mexican food and risk anything (and again, my girlfriend is very picky anyway). I'm not advising you to break the law, but, if you were to have something on your person, it probably would go undiscovered, as they only looked in bags. Is that a banana in your pocket or... ;)
The entertainment on this ship left something to be desired. The comedian they had was pretty awful. I actually felt bad for him as he was bombing. The stage shows were pretty dated. We liked the second one a lot better than the first. I got to talking to one of the dancers who happened to be running a ping pong tournament at the time. She said the shows were about 15 years old and that Carnival tends to put the older shows on the older ships and/or shorter sails. This makes sense, but I still think the shows should be newer than 15 years old. They also had a hypnotist one night. He was pretty good, but I'd seen similar acts before, so it was less amazing. He did an "adults only" show the last night at about midnight. I didn't manage to stay up for it. I'd suggest Carnival make this show a bit earlier, as many people have long days on the day of disembarkation, and I think more people would have gone if the show were around 10:30 instead.
Disembarkation was fine for us as we were not in a massive hurry. We were able to enjoy a final breakfast and got off the ship pretty quickly after our number was called.
All in all it was a great trip, and I have just booked another Carnival cruise with my family for October. I'd strongly recommend this trip if you only have a few days to go and if the rates on this cruise are favorable.