We live in the West Houston area so the drive to Galveston was a simple 1:30 hour drive. This was the main reason why we chose this cruise. The ability to just drive down and cruise away. Our other choice was a week in a resort in Mexico, but with a 9 month old and all her bags, we decided to instead go with the cruise. I had been in 10 cruises before: 2 with Carnival, 3 with Norwegian, 1 princess and 4 RCCL. After my last experience in one of Carnival's smaller ships, I swore I would never go back on Carnival. After seeing the price of the balconies drop down under $750 p/p, I decided to give them a try another try. It was my wife's first cruise, my baby's first cruise, my mother's 5th and my step father's 3rd.
Embarkation - We drove down to Galveston and I dropped wife, mother and baby at the terminal. A porter took the bags right out of the truck and wheel them away. Drove to EZ Cruise park (closer to the terminal than Lighthouse) and took the shuttle back. We had to wait in line for about 1 to 1:30 hour which I think it's pretty reasonable considering they have to board 3000 people. AC was working in the terminal so no problems.
The aisle leading to the cabins was pretty small and by the time we got to the cabin we felt quite cramped. Even though we told Carnival we didn't need a crib since we brought our own pack and play, they had one in the room already. We kept the crib mattress but sent the crib back. Cabin was quite small, specially after putting together the pack and play.
We got 2 balconies on the 8th floor, which we were able to connect through the balconies. Had a nice large balcony with 4 chairs and 2 tables.
Service in the cabin was top notch, although I must say both mattress and pillows were pretty hard. Supposedly the mattress have just been changed. Humm... not so sure.... next time i'll bring my own pillow. When I asked for a pillow top to put on top of the mattress, the cabin steward didn't know what I was talking about. I was able to get one in previous cruises, I guess this ship does not offer them.
Cabin Service was pretty good, no complaints there. We took all their stuff out of the refrigerator and fill it in with our own stuff.
In general the food on board was decent, not a lot of selections but good enough to eat. We had the hardest time eating dinner at the buffet on both formal nights (didn't bring formal clothes) and I gotta say the food there leaves a lot to be desired. The Restaurants were pretty good, although I thought there wasn't a lot of options as in previous cruisers.
Our only complaint was the noise in the cabin. I have been the floor right below the buffet in many cruises below and never had a problem. the noise in this cabin was unbelievable. Every night it felt like we were sleeping right below a bowling alley.
We didn't use any of the child care facilities, so we can't comment on those.
It was hard to see any of the shows with a baby, so instead we watched a bit of TV while she napped. The cabin had TNT, CNN, CNN International, CNN En Espanol (3 channels showing the same thing!) All 4 major networks (Out of Denver, so everything was Mountain time) plus 3 movie channels. Movies we saw included Bride Wars, Slumdog Millionaire, Marley & Me. Basically newer stuff that has been recently released on DVD.
Next time we'll probably spend the extra money on getting a suite, as we didn't have a lot of space on the cabin.