This was my 3rd cruise but the first time we have cruised with our 4 children and the first time my husband and I have cruised in 15 years, so much has changed! We all enjoyed our cruising experience very much! In all, we were a group of 8: myself and my husband, our 4 kids (ages 14, 12, 8, and 4), and my parents (mom who is 69 and dad who turned 77 at sea!). This was also the first cruise for my parents.
We live in Canada. We travelled to Buffalo for an overnight stay, flew to Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 6th, stayed overnight in Fort Lauderdale and then made our way to the Port of Miami the next day for our cruise. Finding a decent hotel in Fort Lauderdale (or anywhere near Miami) during Superbowl weekend was not the easiest thing to do and if I had been a better planner, I would have avoided this weekend altogether.
Embarkation: I thought this process was handled extremely efficiently. It was fairly quick and smooth, all things considered. Travelling with a large group always poses challenges, especially where children are involved, but on Carnival's part, the embarkation process was flawless. We were on board and enjoying our lunch at Rosie's Restaurant around 12 noon.
Cabin: We were on a budget (4 kids, remember?) so we all had interior cabins on deck 2 (main deck) towards the front of the ship. It made no difference to us. We thought the cabins were beautiful and spacious! There was more than enough room for all of our clothes (and we brought way too many clothes!). The rooms were spotlessly clean and our steward made sure they stayed that way for the entire cruise. The kids shared a cabin and enjoyed their cabin as well.
Food: We had the early seating in the Lincoln Dining Room. We loved the variety of food available there. We ate there 5 of the 7 nights.....only skipped the last 2 nights because we had a couple of sick family members. The food was great, the waiters were fantastic....they put on a show every night! I had pre-ordered a birthday cake for my dad and this was delivered to the table on the right day without any reminding from me. The waiters even sang Happy Birthday to him which he loved! We ordered what we wanted and in the quantity we wanted and nobody ever questioned us. One night, I ordered 3 different appetizers and one entree. It was all delicious! We ate breakfast and lunch (when not in port) in Rosie's Restaurant. The variety of food available there was outstanding. There was something for everyone. My kids couldn't get enough of the ice cream! We also took advantage of the pizzeria and the Fish & Chips. There is also a dedicated Burrito Bar and a Deli.
Entertainment: Lots for everyone to do. My 12 year old daughter and my 8 year old daughter took advantage of the many activities for kids on board and really enjoyed them. My 4 year old son wanted to stay with us and that was fine too...he enjoyed the pool, ping pong, and mini-golf. We went to a few of the night time shows and thoroughly enjoyed those. There were dancers, jugglers, comedians....all were great! My parents also enjoyed these very much! Most nights, movies played on the big screen by the pool which was nice.
Overall, we loved this ship! It was so beautiful and the crew work day and night to keep it spotless. We tried to explore every nook and cranny of it and probably still missed many spots! The lobby/atrium was beautiful. The artwork decorating the ship was breathtaking and added such a sophisticated touch to the ship. We were in awe of it all!
Debarkation: This was also a fairly smooth process. We enjoyed one last breakfast on board and waited for our zone number to be called for debarkation. It was called ahead of schedule. When we arrived on the lobby deck to disembark, everything seemed to come to a complete stop. Apparently, there was a backlog with customs, so we had to wait in line about half an hour, but after that, it all went fairly quickly.