My husband(39) and I(35) along with a group of twenty cruisers, ranging in age from 4-55, flew into Fort Lauderdale 2 days prior to the cruise. We stayed at the Hampton Inn and Suites hotel. The hotel was conveniently located across the street from a strip mall. So, if you forgot something at home or last minute toiletries, you can go shopping. The hotel has a nice continental breakfast and free transportation to the cruise port. However, I had rented a van, so we could explore Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
Embarkation: We arrived at the cruise port around 11:30 a.m. and the lines were moving fast. Everyone was going through the VIP line. But, once you get up the stairs, you have to proceed to regular check-in or VIP check-in. With being a platinum member I had VIP check-in. However, if you book a suite you also will receive VIP check-in. Others in my group, had regular check-in and it was not long. We waited about 1/2 hour and we were on the ship. We all headed straight to the Lido deck and the food was good and no complaints. There was something there for everyone.
State Room: Rooms were available at 1:30 p.m. The room was very spacious for me and my husband. There was plenty of closet space as well. The balcony was nice and always kept clean. They would leave a note in you room letting you know when they will be cleaning the balcony, which they did twice(painting and cleaning the glass). I never saw my room steward. But, my room was always clean. Also my 3 teenagers(18, 16 and 16) shared a window room and it was spacious for them as well.
Entertainment: Was good. At the welcome aboard show. I was pulled on stage by the cruise director Wee Jimmy(who by the way was funny) and I had fun. I was a little nervous being on stage in front of hundreds of people but I am glad I did it. The comedian (Allen Ball) was funny, the dancers were entertaining and I enjoyed the Quest game. Although I must admit, I did enjoy it better on RCCL. If you are going on a Carnival cruise don't miss the Quest game (what people will do to earn points..).
Food: Very good. Every day I had breakfast and dinner in the Posh dining room and it was very good. I did have lunch on the Lido deck and they had great selections and I loved the different food stations.
Kids program and Club O2: I had 3 kids under 11 in my group. The 4 and 6 year old loved the kids program. But, the 10 year old did not. I believe it was no fault to Carnival. I think she was just being a spoil brat and wanted to stay up under her parents. As far as the Club O2 the teenagers love it, no complaints.
Debarkation: Was painless. If you have an early flight let them know and they will give you a lower number. If not, you will be given a higher number and will be off the ship by 9:30-10. Or, you can do the self assist and be the first one's off the ship. However, you have to carry your own bags.
Overall: I met a lot of people on the ship as well as people from Cruise Critic. I met a nice couple from Cruise Critic at the meet and greet. I had a wonderful time. I will be back on Carnival in October. I am doing another group cruise in August 2010. People are already booked, they had such a good time, they wanted to go back on Carnival.