This was our first cruise, my son had just graduated high school and we were celebrating our 20th anniversary. We drove to Long Beach which is about a 12 hour drive for us. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in Long beach and parked our car there for the week. The rooms were clean and the staff was pleasant. We had been so excited about this cruise and we weren't disappointed! I ordered rum runners and we took vodka and rum in them. We also took some pop and water. I gave Schmidt $10 when we first got to our rooms and he kept our cooler completely stocked with ice.
Embarkation: We arrived at the pier at 11:30. There was a classic car show going on so after we got our zone 3 number we walked around and looked at all the cars. Customs must have been doing a thorough search because people were still coming off the ship at 12:30. We got onboard around 1:45 or so, went to the lido deck and grabbed the DOD and some food.
We walked around the ship after eating to get ourselves familiarized with it..it is huge! I was still turned around by Friday. Couldn't remember which elevator to take, thank goodness I had my husband!
They were working on the pool benches before we sailed, but they were done after muster. Muster was interesting, if you get there early or even on time you are squished up against the wall.
We had dinner at 6:00 in the Gold Pearl. Since we were a party of 6, we had a table to ourselves. Our waiter Michael was wonderful and the assistant waiter Saw was great as well! Dinner was great, Mom had the prime rib and the rest of us had seafood. The chocolate melting cake was fantastic!I admit I had it 2 times through out the week. The second time I ordered it with 2 ice creams...much better! We were very impressed with the food. We all enjoyed it. I had several things off the SPA menu that were really good as well. Several nights I only had fruit for dessert or starters. On the 2nd Formal night, my 16 yr old ordered 2 escargots..he really liked them. The waiters either sang or danced every night. Our waiter pulled my mom up and they danced, and then when mom found out nobody else was dancing, she was little embarrassed but she had a great time. I can't say enough about the crew on board, so friendly and they greeted us by name every where we went. I was amazed. Our drink waiter, German, was amazing. He stopped by our table frequently, told us stories and always had a trick/puzzle for us to try and figure out. He was funny and when we were in the nightclubs he always made it a point to come over and say hi and talk to us. We tipped him very well as well as our waiter and assistant waiter.
Sea Days: We were mostly lazy on our sea days, sitting outside by the pool or the waterslide, playing miniature golf, eating...We did see a few of the shows. Vroom was great as well as the comedian for his adult act in the El Morocco. Don't miss his show. We really liked the juggler, Edge. Someone else said he was rude to passengers but it was part of his act. We played bingo, which in my opinion was a rip off unless it was a multiple game. We would sit down every morning at breakfast and decide what we wanted to do, but honestly we never made it to half the things we wanted to. I don't know where the time went.
We ate breakfast a couple times in the dining room, not real impressed. I ate at the omelet station most of the time, that and fruit was enough for me. For lunch we had the buffet, mostly for me it was the burrito station. For the kids it was the mongolian grill which was a very long wait. We also had pizza and burgers. We were very happy with the food selection. My husband said he must have had 50 ice cream cones over the week.
We spent time in the casino. My 18 yr old was excited to be able to gamble so he brought extra money. his dad and him sat down at the blackjack table the first night and he won $120. In fact we all won a little bit on the first night and gambled it all away by the end of the cruise. Not bad in our mind. We were gambling on winnings. My 18 yr old found a group of other 18-22 yr olds and hung out with them most of the time. I did find out that the older ones were buying the younger ones drinks in the red carpet so carnival isn't real strict on that. He had a great time though and made some great friends with a bunch of other young adults. We didn't see him except at dinner and on port days and randomly around the ship.The dress code is loosely followed in the dining room. Most people dressed up on the formal nights but the rest of the time there was range of flip flops and tank tops to nice dresses and casual slacks. I made my 2 boys were collared shirts and no flip flops. They could were shorts but I made sure they weren't swim wear. I told them, this was a special occasion, at least dress nicely. I think they enjoyed looking nice. But it didn't bother me that others were less dressed up. Everyone appeared to be having a great time and that is the point! We got formal pictures taken and that was the only ones I purchased.
We did go back to the rooms in the evening after dinner and mix a drink and talk about the day. Loved our animals on the bed when we got back every night.
Club O2..was a joke. We took our 16 yr old on the first night to sign him up. WE met the director and she gave us the schedule and told him to come back at 9o. We seriously never saw her again. We saw lots of teens coming and going, could never seem to find the activities even when he would show up at the scheduled time. So he hung out with him old mom and dad and grandparents the whole time. He didn't feel comfortable mixing with a large group of kids. I feel if the director would have been there or maybe she should make a point of seeking the kids out that seem lost, maybe he would have been more willing to join in. But it turned out great, he had a wonderful time. He spent a lot of time in the hot tub with his dad and ate alot of ice cream! Club O2 would be my one and only complaint, but I am not really complaining..All in all, it was the best vacation we ever had, we didn't want to get off the ship. We chose to self-embark and we were walking off the ship at 8:45 or so.