Our trip began at 4am the day of sailing. We had no choice but to fly the day of which with the weather in the Northeast was nerve-wracking to say the least. However, our flight left on time and we arrived in Orlando at 9:45am. We were immediately greeted by the Carnival Transfer people who directed us to a bus. We were at the port by 11:15 which surprised me since they say the buses don't begin running till 11:30/12. Embarkation was a breeze and we were on the ship by 12:00.
Our first impression was simply awe at the beauty upon stepping into the Atrium lobby. By far it is the most elegant we have seen. We went directly to the Lido deck but had a very hard time finding anywhere to sit. It seems that those who had arrived earlier found seats and never moved (even though they were long done eating). We did get to eat finally and then found our cabin. We had a starboard side balcony and it was no different than any other balcony we have had in the past. Kudos to Carnival for the change in the muster drill. We sat in comfort in the Crimson Dining room for the drill which was nice since it was "cold and rainy" in "sunny Florida.
Our meals were excellent and the dining room staff was superb. We did the Steakhouse one night and that was a elegant experience. I don't know if I would do it again only because the food is so good in the main dining room and we missed the staff song and dance. We couldn't get enough of the Ice cream and pizza.
The shows were all new for us and we especially enjoyed "Dancing in the Street". That is a not to be missed show. Having John Heald as the cruise director was an added plus. He is extremely talented as CD's go. He really knows how to work a crowd. We did have some tragedy on this trip with the death of one of the passengers but John handled that in a very compassionate and professional way.
There is plenty of seating on the Lido deck for sunbathing, and many hot tubs to choose from. The Water park and slides was a blast. At 53 years old, I went down the funnel slide and love, love, loved it. Can't wait for the opportunity to do it again.
My husband spent almost all his time in the casino. He is a smoker and he had no problem with the new regulations for smokers in the casino. He found "his" table and proceeded to WIN almost every night. Now that's what I call a good cruise.
Debarkation also went very smoothly. We again used the Carnival transfer to the airport. My only problem was that our flight was not till 6:15 pm and we were at the airport at 11. We booked our airfare long after I had booked the transfers. I thought we might be able to do a post cruise tour of Kennedy Space Center and just apply the cost of the transfer to the tour. But we would have had to pay the full tour price then contact Carnival for a refund of the transfer cost. Wasn't worth the effort. So we spent the day in the Orlando airport. Thank God for free internet.
We are already in the planning stages for next year and will then be one year closer to platinum. We love Carnival and hope to be able to cruise for years to come.