My husband and I and 4 kids (20,18,15 year twins) just got back from cruising our first time with Carnival. We have previously gone on RCCL 3 times in the past and loved it but wanted to try ports we hasn't seen or a new line to see what we might be missing!
Embarkation-went great, same as RCCL. Very smooth and quick. Agent was wonderful. We left out of Port Canaveral.
Ship-very dark, closed in feeling, lots of little rooms, and not easy to navigate at all. Cannot get across the ship on most floors so must go up and down all the time to get to where you want to go. Got lost at times and ended up at the end of a hall with no elevator! One big thing for carnival is that they have more elevators in 3 areas of the ship so there is very little waiting though we all took the stairs 90% of time, never saw people waiting like RCCL. I had always heard how colorful and bright the ships were, this one is not. Gives you an old feeling as well.The SPA was wonderful, the girls and I each had 2 treatments and service was great. Workout room was packed most of the time and very hard to get a machine to work out on. We would go back and forth several times trying to get in to work out. Need to enlarge it.
Food-RCCL is much better. Our first night in the Golden Compass was terrible food wise. The remaining nights it was "good". The service was great the entire cruise in the Golden Compass Room (we ate dinner every night there). Formal nights on Carnival are not truly formal as you see many tuxes and nicely dressed passengers on RCCL versus the casual formal on carnival. We totally disliked the Red Sail Buffet as it was always crowded with lines of people. The Grill and Deli were my 4 kids favorites, especially the Deli. Fish and Chips were yummy. Room service was prompt and kids loved as well as myself and my a.m. coffee.
Rooms-we had a deluxe suite which was very roomy and beautiful. The kids had inside rooms across the hall. I cannot compare the suite as on RCCL we had a balcony room which was smaller. The kids inside rooms were the same as RCCL. Clean and nice. Good service.
Kids activities-for our age kids, the girls (15 1/2) didn't want to go to the teen club as it looked so kiddylike and not grown up enough. They found kids on the ship to hang out with. For kids 18-21 years, it is a very difficult age as they cannot drink legally (and this was enforced) and cannot go into clubs where there own age group can be. The boys were pretty bored on the ship and met up with a few kids but it was much more fun for them when they were younger. Rccl allowed us to sign a waiver if we wished for kids over 18 to be allowed to order drinks. The boys did enjoy getting to lose their $100 gambling!!!! This ship doesn't offer the neat things the RCCL Freedom of Seas or Liberty of Seas does. No rock climbing wall or ice rink or wave rider. Pools are tiny!!!! Water slide is for little kids. BBall and Volleyball courts are small and not taken care of. Mini golf is nice though.
Entertinment-we walked out 3 nights from the big showroom as it was not entertaining!!!! One night a totally drunk man 3 seats from us kept yelling and booing and disrupting the cruise director and was never removed. He was a mess, so we left. The Broadway night was very good. My kids liked the comedian. RCCL's was a bit better though not perfect.
We all had a nice time though would never take Carnival again. RCCL is nicer is many ways, a big step up for sure. The side trip in Cozumel with mini jeeps/snorkeling was a lot of fun. Bahamas coastal cruise/shopping was a big disappointment. Cruise constantly trying to get you drunk and the shopping :( take a taxi-cheaper! Scuba in Belize and Roatan was good too.