Background- We are a family of 4 (Mom, Dad & 2 kids- age 14 & 8). This was our 5th Carnival Cruise and the kids' 3rd. We have also sailed Royal Caribbean & Celebrity but we find Carnival to be the most bang for the buck!
Travel to port- We drove from Fort Mill, SC (just below Charlotte, NC) and it was an easy 3+ hour drive. Parking was $20/day and prepaid. Embarkation was a total breeze and we really like how it ran in Charleston! Kudos to the Port Authority there!
Ship Info & Stateroom- We liked that we were on a larger vessel. We had a balcony stateroom on Lido deck which made going to the pool and buffet very easy. If you can afford it book on that deck! Our cabin was well laid out and gave us just enough room to move around. We know that cabins are tight.
The weather for this sailing wasn't the best but we understand that the captain didn't have Mother Nature's number on speed dial. It did get a bit rocky going out of Charleston and then back into Charleston. We took those days as opportunities to hang out in the cabin and "chill" with the kids. For once we actually relaxed. :-)
Service- Our room steward, Kevin, was a stealth. We never really saw him. We would just leave for a little while and return to find the room made up and a new towel animal waiting for us.
Entertainment- We aren't much for the shows but we did go to a few bingo games and the casino. The lounges are nice and we enjoyed watching the smaller acts.
Dining- I very much enjoyed the food on this ship. I like Carnival food anyway and I know not to expect too much when I am sailing with 3000+ other hungry people but the food was exceptional. Every meal was yummy. Of course, we had the Chocolate Melting Cake for dessert every night. It is one of the things we look forward to before cruising Carnival. The waiters were funny and very friendly.
Kids Club- Only our 8yr old went to Camp Carnival. He loved it and we didn't see him much, so all in all kids club was wonderful for him and for us.
Freeport- We made a beach day out of this stop hanging out by the Sheraton and Isle of Capri. We also did a little shopping at the marketplace but we didn't spend to much. Freeport has a reputation of being a dive but I found it quite nice.
Nassau- I got a room at Atlantis in the Royal Tower. This gave me and my family full access to Atlantis and its beaches/waterparks. YOU MUST DO THE LEAP OF FAITH waterslide if you go to the waterpark! It was AWESOME!
Atlantis is very expensive though so budget for extra spending money here. It was $8pp roundtrip for the taxi to the property. We spent $55 for 4 slices of pizza, 2 cookies, 4 drinks & garlic bread. A candy bar is $2.00! We liked the casino as well but we didn't win. :-(
Disembarkation- We were called out in zones and we took out time getting off the ship since we were only a few hours drive from home. Carnival has gotten much better at making sure the customer is allowed off the ship in a timely manner without being rushed. Good job!
Summary- We love Carnival so and we will continue to cruise them over and over! You just can't beat the value.