We are a couple in our early 60's, this was our 18th cruise, our 3rd with Carnival. We arrived in Tampa the day before sailing and stayed at the Hampton Inn in Ybor City, making use of their cruise stay/parking package. The weather was miserable as it was during the cold spell, but the hotel had a nice warm shuttle that got us wherever we needed to go! We particularly enjoyed the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.
Embarkation weather wasn't much better, but the cruiseline can't control that. They CAN, however, control the embarkation process and this one was chaotic. When we arrived around 12:30 p.m. the line snaked around outside the terminal, the security checkpoints were not working properly and had to be stopped every so often. This contributed to the time standing in line to check in and our wait to do so was over an hour and a half. Once on board we explored the ship while we waited for the cabins to be opened - that did not happen until after 2:00 p.m.!
Overall, we found the ship to be a bit gaudy and chopped up, but clean and well-maintained. The staff were rather impersonal and many had difficulties communicating in English. The one bright spot was the gentlemen monitoring the Internet cafe - he was very helpful and most always on duty.
We're not picky people and always make the most of our cruises regardless of the little issues that sometimes crop up, but we were terribly disappointed in this cruise overall. Our main bone of contention was the smoking! We normally enjoy the entertainment in the lounges on our cruises, particularly the piano bars, but we were not able to utilize three of the lounges on this ship due to them being smoking-friendly. We did enjoy the entertainer in the Violins Bar, Jerry Yuzon. We were disappointed on two occasions trying to attend shows in the show lounge as there were no seats available following Bingo. Overall, we felt the food was average, our waitress and assistant waiter did their jobs but made no effort to learn our names or preferences. There were several miscues with entrees but no apologies or offers of replacements. The announcements by our George the Greek during dinner detracted from the overall ambiance and became rather annoying.
We heartily believe that a cruise is much better than being at work so we can honestly say we did enjoy ourselves - especially at the ports of call. Going forward, however, Carnival will not be our first choice as a cruiseline.