Long Beach was a former home of mine and also my birthplace, but I had never taken a cruise from there. We flew in a day early and stayed at the Long Beach Hilton which was nice. It's one of the downtown landmarks in the city and I had never stayed there before. Rooms were very modern and enjoyable. 4 of us shared a room and there was plenty of space. Dinner was at a favorite place of mine called "The Pizza Place and Garden Cafe" which is on the 1400 block of Broadway ($10-15 taxi ride at most from the Hilton or a good 20 minute walk)
Next day we headed to the Queen Mary and the old SPruce Goose dome (now the Carnival Cruise Terminal). Gave the bags to the porters, got in our first line. Got some papers and we were in line to check in. Check-ed in and were given a #6 and asked to stand in that line. Got inside the dome. Stood in a line for the metal detectors. Went through those and stood in another line. Got our photos taken and went upstairs to stand in a line. Then stood in the line crossing the gangway, stood in the line going into the ship and stood in the line to give Guest Services our cash deposit. It was a ridiculous number of individual lines to get checked in and on a ship, but it went relatively fast so I gave it a 4.
Public Rooms - Yeah, I know. You're just waiting for me to mention the pink. I knew to expect it, saw the comments that you stop noticing it after the first day or 2 and wasn't stressed about it. However, I didn't see that there was a neon yellow/green "grouting" in the black tiles all over the ship. That threw me and took a little longer to get used to. Coloring aside, the ship was laid out pretty well for the most part and the rooms were smartly organized for flow of movement and amount of people they could accommodate. A couple oddities though like the Sports Bar (Our House) that we didn't even find til Day 2, and a couple decks you can't go all the way through on. A solid 4 for this category.
Stateroom - Absolutely nothing to complain about. Room was great, nice layout and love the extra spa amenities and decor. Elemis spa items were appreciated as they are the norm from past experience with HAL and NCL. Room can be up to a quad with the 2 lowers and two uppers. Beds would probably work best in twin configuration if using the uppers, and then it would be like 2 sets of bunkbeds basically. Room is a little noisy due to fitness area above, but only obnoxious if you want to nap during the day. Gym hours mean above you is closed from 10pm to 6am. 5+
Fitness/Recreation - The Cloud 9 Spa isn't a cruise ship spa/salon but rather an experience all its own. The tour of the facilities is amazing, the staff is so friendly and the decor is beautiful. My only regrets are that between catching a bit of a cold bug and getting a bad sunburn I chose not to use the facilities more. But that's not their fault. 5+
Enrichment - It's a Carnival ship, so this is NOT their strong point like it would be for a line more like HAL. They had a few things, but if you were hoping to attend lectures about the region, the people and the history... This is not the right line for you. I gave this a 3, because hopefully you already know going on CCL that you aren't doing it for the enrichment. :)
Rates/Value for $ - Under $500 each for a richly appointed inside stateroom on deck 10, with special spa privileges and amenities... Umm.. duh! Pricing/value were phenomenal! 5+
Dining - I always wondered how CCL manages to always be near the top for food. Seems a bit out of place for a mass market line. Now I understand, and I'm a believer. 5+ for sure... and the first time I haven't even bothered trying the premium dining on a new line as the main dining room food was too good to miss!
Entertainment - One comedian was just alright. "The Beat" was amazing. Technical difficulties meant we never saw "Vroom" the show I had heard so much about. They also didn't manage to do a midday encore like Goose, our AMAZING cruise director, had suggested would likely happen the next day. 3 since, technical difficulties or not, the show that is the most hyped on this ship went sight unseen.
Service - Whether in our room, at dinner, getting drinks or otherwise, the staff was incredible. Soe of the finest folks in the industry! 5. (Because I think HAL is 5+ in this field and in a league of their own)
Shore Excursions - See my comments for Cabo. 5.
Overall - I had a great time. And even though the ship left 6 hours late due to unforeseen issues, lost a few more hours because of a medical disembark, I got too drunk one day and suffered for it that evening and next morning, caught a cold, lost about half my voice from cheering during "The Beat" so loudly AND got a brutal sunburn I'm still nursing a week after I got it in Mazatlan... I still had the time of my life and can't wait until next year when I come back onboard... same ship and itinerary, with new friends, and do it all over again! Thanks Carnival for one hell of a vacation! :)