Baltimore Port: We live just outside Washington DC so getting to the port was a piece of cake. We drove right up to the ship unloaded our luggage and parked the car. We arrived around 1:30 pm and had we did have to wait quite a while to board (The terminal had plenty of seating but was a little hot). Overall, the check-in process was very efficient.
Ship: The ship was immaculate and the staff responsible for keeping the common areas clean did a fantastic job. The nude art was okay. Didn't seem as bad as some posts made it seem. Some of it is subtle, some of it not. A lot of naked breasts. I was worried how my kids would react and they didn't seem bothered by it.
Normandy Dining Room: The first night is open seating and we did not know this. We were very hungry but waited until 8:15 (our assigned dining time) to go and the line to get in the main dining room was very long. We waited about 20 minutes to be seated. If I had known, we would have gone at 6:00 when we were hungry. No lines any other nights. The food was good. The servers were very attentive. We also had lunch and breakfast in the main dining room a couple of times and we preferred this over the crowds on the lido deck. Breakfast hours were limited and changed daily. We arrived a couple of times at 9:30 (when it had closed at 9:00). We learned to read the operating hours in the daily caper. We had a problem one day when we arrived at 9:50 on a day it was supposed to be open until 10:00. We were told it was closed because they were at full capacity. I looked in and saw over half of the tables were empty . I had to argue to be seated since it was not yet 10:00. The crew was just being lazy and did not want to reset a table. This was only negative experience on the cruise.
Elegant Evening: Most people were dressed nice Men in suits and women in cocktail dresses. Children dressed up too. A few people didn't follow, but most did. No women in gowns and only saw one man in a tux. Also saw one man with stonewashed jeans and a polo shirt.
Mermaid Grille/Ledo deck: We had breakfast and lunch at the start of the cruise on the ledo deck. Huge variety. We found a table open in the same area every day for breakfast. Lunch was a little more difficult. We could not find a single table for lunch on the last at sea day. I ended up finding some open tables outside by adult pool bar. I'm not sure if children were allowed in that area, but nobody told us to leave.
Room Service: Very fast and had a nice selection.
Soda Card: We did not purchase soda cards because we thought the price of 6 cards was ridiculous. We saw several people carrying on cases of soda during embarkation and I wish we had thought of that.
Cabin: Have cruised Carnival before and they were just as we expected. Cabin steward did a great job keeping them clean.
Gym: Nice variety of equipment. Pretty full at times, but never had to wait to use equipment. Grand Turk: We did not plan any excursions. We had no trouble finding chairs on the right side of the pier and had a nice beach day. I thought I had read that this was a nice beach for snorkeling so I didn't think we needed to spend the $$ on an excursion. We had our own snorkel gear, but didn't see anything exciting. The water is rocky and we did have water shoes with us. I would highly recommend water shoes. In retrospect, I wish that we had taken a snorkeling excursion in the morning as we learned the snorkeling at Grand Turk reefs is supposed to be amazing. We spent some time at Margaritaville in the afternoon and that was a lot of fun. My kids thought the boogie board excursion at Margaritaville looked like fun, but it was sold out so they couldn't do that. It is another excursion that I wish we had booked. Half Moon Cay: We tried to get a cabana when we boarded the ship but they were sold out. I think that would have made a world of difference. It is beautiful, but it was extremely hot. I never thought the ship seemed crowded until you saw everyone off the boat at Half Moon Cay. We had to walk down the beach a ways to find open chairs. I would recommend bringing some thermal water bottles and filling them with ice water just to have something as you walk down the beach to find chairs. We spent most of our time in the water because it was so hot out. It was beautiful and the water is so clear that my pictures look like the kids were in a swimming pool. We walked down to a secluded area away from the beach chairs and really took in the beauty of the island.
Freeport: We took a taxi to Lucaya Beach. We rented some chairs under a palm tree. We took a ride on a banana boat and rented jet skis. We really enjoyed the jet skis. The kids went swimming in hotel pool. We shopped a little in the lucaya market shops, but it was just too hot to stay very long. We picked up a couple of trinkets.
Casino: The casino was fun even though we lost a few $$. The tables have low minimums so the damage wasn't too bad.
Shows: We caught of few and they were good.
Photos: They photographers are good. Definitely worth it to get a family photo for the elegant dress nights. Camp Carnival: My 8 year old tried camp carnival twice. She had a lot of fun with the activities, but found it a bit boring in between activities.
Circle C: We checked out Circle C for (11-14 year olds) on 3-4 occasions. All it ever seemed to be was a bunch of kids just sitting around talking. I only found a counselor present once. I was not impressed and my kids were not all that interested so they never stayed . It looked like a core group of about 8 kids were in the room every time we check it out, so it must be good for some, just not mine. I think they would have like to have made some friends, maybe we just hit it at the wrong times.
TV: Limited TV stations and they broadcast from Denver for some odd reason. Didn't spend much time watching TV. Pay per view movies were fairly current as well as a couple of free ones.
Disembarkation: We had checked our luggage. We thought that would be easier since we had quite a bit with 6 people. We had to leave the cabins so they can clean them for the next cruise sometime in the late morning, so we had to wait in a common area for a couple of hours. We chose the ledo deck because it was nice day. I think the first group was allowed off at 11:15. We were the last group to be allowed off the ship at 1:45 pm. They do not serve lunch so my kids got really hungry. They finally opened the grill at 1:30 (probably for the next cruise). In retrospect, I would have ordered a couple of sandwich from room service and had my kids bathing suits so they could have swam in the pool during the long wait to get off the ship. Once we got off the ship it took less than 15 minutes to find our luggage, grab a porter, go thru customs, and drive off the lot.
Overall: It was a great vacation and we really enjoyed our selves. I can be quite picky and really had nothing significant to complain about.