First, let me give you some background: we are seasoned cruisers (sailed on Celebrity, HAL, NCL and Carnival). I sailed with my DH (52yo), dtr (21yo), neice (18 yo), and my parents (80's). We have always enjoyed cruising with Carnival. That being said...
Embarkation - This was the one of the biggest reasons we took this cruise. Leaving out of Baltimore was an hour a way which saved us a lot of time and money and so much easier on my parents. We arrived at the port around 11:30am, went through the parking lot, pulled up and dropped off our luggage (painless) then paid to park. We had handicap parking. People from the previous cruise were still disembarking but there was plenty of parking available. After parking we went into the terminal, went through security and checked in via "special needs". Our agent had called and reserved a wheelchair for my parents but there were none available. After checking in we all sat in the special needs area until we boarded. We began boarding around 1:30pm with no problems. As soon as we got on board we went straight for the excursion desk. We were 3rd in line but waited for 25 minutes since there was only 1 staff member meaning the desk. We were able to obtain a cabana for Half Moon Cay.
The Ship - the decor of the ship was definitely something out of the renaissance, very different. There were nude pictures all over but we didn't find them offensive. The lay out of the ship left something to be desired. Having cruised before we have had ships that flow much better. The biggest problem was in the evening when the early dinner was leaving out and the late seating was trying to get in. The main lobby area was jammed packed. They put all the photography stations into this small space which clogged up the hallways. We always enjoyed having a cocktail before dinner (we had late seating) but there was no place that offered music at this time except in the main lobby and on the very last night.
The pool area - We had to always use the adult deck. It was impossible to get a chair around the center 2 pools and even if we did, you couldn't enjoy the pools or jacuzzi because the kids were running rampant. The were jumping into the pool which had standing room only. At one point we saw a parent putting his daughter (who looked to be around 3 yo) into the packed jacuzzi with a life vest and flippers on her feet! I don't mind using the adult only pool but I wish they would provide some entertainment back there. We were always able to get a chair but we were on deck by 10 - 10:30am. I guess I should mention that there was over 800 children under 18 on this cruise!
Smoking - There was smoking in all of the places that you would want to be in. The casino was always full of smoke and if you are on deck 2 you must walk through the casino to get to the front or back of the ship. There was no way around it. I wish that smoking was limited to only 1 or 2 bars and not even allowed on the decks. Smoke was always drifting to the non-smoking side. Enough on smoking - I'm sure you can tell that I am a non-smoker and feel that my rights are not well represented since I can't go into the bars to enjoy the entertainment.
Entertainment - We went to the first night show and the dancers were awful - they need to take dance lessons and the choreography was so basic. I don't expect a broadway show but this was the worst show that I ever saw on a cruiseship. The 1st comedian was great - I saw him during the opening show and then again at the "adult" only show. There were quite a few minors at this and the other comedian's shows - totally not appropriate for the younger crowd. The 2nd comedian I only saw at the adult only show which I didn't care for. WE didn't get to see much entertainment during the day since we sat on the back deck adult pool.
Bars (from my drt perspective) - She had a great time in the piano bar - this seemed to be the meeting place of that age group especially if Doug was playing (sing along). After Doug was done the group headed to Beauties dance club to finish the night. It was reported that everyone had a great time! Drinks are not cheap! We brought some water, wine and vodka on board with us.
Food - Lido Deck - food was good - there was a limited selection of food. I guess this was one of their cutbacks.
Normandy Dining Room - The 1st night was a huge disappointment. This was the first ime that there was "anytime" dining for everyone. We had late seating (8:15) the rest of the cruise. The first night the waiters looked like they didn't want to be there. The service was awful - my daughter ordered a steak and it cam out well done (ordered med-rare), we waited for the server to come back which took a long time - we asked for another cooked med-rare and this time it came out completely rare (I think it was still mooing). Unfortunately, we were unable to locate our server so my daughter went to the lido deck after dinner. Since we had cruised before we decided that we would wait until the next night before forming an opinion. So glad we did - our servers Norris and Cyrul were wonderful. The food the rest of the week was great. You can definitely tell that they are serving smaller portions which I think is great. You can always have more if you want.
David's Supper Club - This was a terrific dinner. The service and food was excellent. Nothing more to say.
Room Service - Breakfast is only continental style. We also had sandwiches one day and they were very good.
Rooms - We had a balcony room. They are very spacious compared to other cruise lines. Very clean. Our room stewart, Sherwin was wonderful - he worked around our daughter's schedule. Unable to hear any announcements in cabins. Only can hear balcony door slamming above.
Internet - Bought special 100 minutes for $50. We took our laptop with us but the wireless connection wasn't always good. We did speak with the staff and they did credit time back to us.
Attire - We didn't care the dress down attire of this ship. I like getting somewhat dressed for dinner - don't like the shorts and tee shirt look. the 1st elegant night some people dressed up but the 2nd I noticed more people dressed.
Spa - I had a full massage with a facial ($130) and my DH had a special pedicure ($65). My dtr had a back hot stone massage with a facial ($99). They were all very good just pricey.
Gym - Very nice. Sometime you needed to wait for equipment. My dtr and neice did a palates class that they said wasn't that good. Not very difficult.
Disembarkation - We arrived on time but it took a while to get cleared by customs. We did not do self debarkation since my parents would have struggle with their baggage. We decide to just relax and watch everyone else try to navigate their luggage with a thousand other people. We disembarked around 12pm, waled down and went through customs. We retrieved our luggage which was very well organized by number. We only had an hour drive home so there was no hurry.
Please take this review as my opinion and only my opinion. It was a great vacation!
Half Moon Cay - What can I say - what a great beach day. We had a cabana (#8 - Pink)which is located away from the crowds but close to bathrooms and the food. The cabana had snorkeling gear and floats. It is also stock with whatever kind of soda or water you want and veggies, nachos and dip and fruit. We only used the floats in the water. The dtr and neice did aquatrex and loved it. Half Moon Cay is a day of relaxation.