As we were travelling east to catch the ship, we left Houston for New York the day before departure and spent that evening with family in Manhattan. We arrived at the terminal at about 12:30 on Saturday morning and were on the ship within an hour. However, having cruised before, we "knew the drill" and the first-timers were having some difficulty as personnel/directing signs/etc. were not very evident.
The pre-departure buffet on the Lido deck was uninspired (hot dogs & french fries), but filling.
We were very pleasantly surprised by the up-grade we received as a past guest. Although neither of us was handicapped, the room was handicapped equipped and VERY large. Shortly after we arrived at the room, our steward dropped by to introduce himself and to check to see if we needed anything special. During the entire voyage he was available but not bothersome.
Another surprise was the slightly muted decor of the ship compared to the other Carnival ships we had sailed on. The colors were less jarring than most of the Carnival ships and added to our enjoyment of the public areas.
Compared to previous Carnival cruises, we found the passengers to be considerably older (average age appeared to be in their late 70's and early 80's) and we are in our 50's, so we felt like spring chickens in comparison. The dinner menus must have been adjusted to the tastes of the older passengers and was not as tasty or varied as we have experienced on our previous Carnival cruises. It wasn't bad, just not great.
The disembarkation/embarkation process in the various ports was smooth and uneventful. Boston is a great city to explore full of history but Carnival really could take Portland, Maine off the route. Portland is a relatively new cruise port and hasn't developed a district near the dock to support cruisers. St. John was quaint and clean and the tide really does change about 30 feet. Halifax was interesting.
We took advantage of the self-assist disembarkation in New York and it was a breeze. We found it much easier than the zoned disembarkation we had previously experienced.
All in all it was a relaxing week and helped us recover from Hurricane Ike which we have lived through the week before our departure.