My husband booked this cruise as a gift to celebrate my 40th birthday. We have sailed 10 times prior with Princess & RCCL. We sailed on the Victory which was chartered by John Mayer we can't count that one! Traveling with us was our 14 year old son and 8 year old daughter.
We live within 2 hours of Miami so we arrived at the Port at noon, dropped our luggage off at the pier and parked the car in the parking garage. If you forget to put luggage tags on, they will be provided for you! We took a short bus trip to the ship and were on the boat within a 1/2 hour!
Instead of Rosies buffet we opted to eat at the Fish and Chips the first day! They offered Ahi tuna and a mixture of seafood. It was delicious, however, we did not eat there the rest of the week.
We spent some time exploring the ship as we were surprised at its size! There were a few decks that did not go all the way from aft to forward, but it was fun trying to figure that out! Once you get the hang of it, its no big deal! The ships decor was a perfect match for ships name. Everywhere you looked you could see the "Stars and Stripes", eagles, flags, heroes, and heroines!
Our room was conveniently located on deck ten, easy access to the dolphin pool and water slide. We were, again, pleasantly surprised by how spacious our cabin was. My son had a lower bed and my daughter had the upper. There was never an issue of space for the four of us!
We went to our meet and greet for our roll call, met fabulous people! I am very happy we did that because my son did not attend the 12-14 year old group and made a friend instead! My daughter attended Camp Carnival for the duration of the trip and she loved every minute of it. The one thing that is unique to Carnival is the kids program hours and many days to actually do something with your kids...(water wars was fantastic and the building bear workshops.)
The biggest and best surprise of the ship was the outstanding dining room service and the food! We ate every night in the Lincoln with our part time comedic waiter, Kenchia. Not that the food is bad on Princess or RCCL, we just thought Carnival's was top notch!
We visited Atlantis, a must see if you have not been there! Sapphire Beach in St Thomas (yeah baby!) and Bernards Tour in St Maarten (the highlight of our week!)
We attended a few shows but not all. The juggler and the comedians were great! The legend show on the last night of the cruise is hysterical. We spent most nights with Claude in the piano bar and we enjoyed him! The cruise director, Chris, was good, but we were partial to Matt, "yeah baby." He made the (inside) activities fun.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience! PROS: Service (especially Kenchia in the Lincoln)and food, size of cabins, never felt overcrowded and the under 11 kids program!
Needs improvement but not a train wreck: sailing away during muster, convenience of rest rooms in public areas, trivia games held in cigar bar, and risky content for children. One final note on the down side-the tween program needs improvement. I met kids in the glass elevators just sitting there taking rides because they were bored!
We will sail Carnival again, looking for a DREAM!