Wow! We managed to get our cruise in by the grace of God between hurricane Charley and hurricane Frances! Our weather and seas were perfect! We were so lucky.
The eastern caribbean ports are absolutely gorgeous. We did the western caribbean on Carnival Pride last year, and found the eastern ports like night and day in comparison. All of them, including our stop in Nassau, were gorgeous, like paradise.
Embarkation--a simple and quick process at Port Canaveral--don't sweat it!
Ship--lovely but big and somewhat confusing to navigate. This is my only negative about the cruise. With the mid ship restaurant interrupting the promenade and 4th level deck, it is a real pain in the neck to get where you are going, especially in a hurry. Otherwise, the public rooms as well as the staterooms were excellent (would highly recommend a balcony cabin--you'll feel like you really took a vacation and had some privacy with one). We had a midship 8b, which seemed as nice as the Cat. 11 suite we had on the Pride, all in all. The decor of the ship was fine, but not spectacular. Compared to the Pride, which had all that lovely Renaissance artwork, it wasn't quite as nice, but it was about as pretty as a very large ship can be. The state rooms are identical to the Pride's.
Food--excellent. What I expected for a Carnival cruise and more. Very much enjoyed the main dining room fare and our table for four, shared with our teenage kids who had their own cabin. Our waitstaff was excellent. Service in general was excellent--not one complaint.
I only wish the pools had been bigger. It seemed we had more pool space on the Pride. Everyone is dying to get into the pools, which are small and few on this ship. For that reason alone, I will book a Spirit class ship next time. Deck space for sunning is excellent, though, you will always be able to find room, especially on deck 14, towards the bow.
Shows--second one is better than the first, and don't miss the first comedian in the main theatre. And best of all we had JOHN for cruise director!!! Best cruise director in the fleet! He was fantastic, as were the people he brought into the shows! One of the best parts of our cruise was the shows with John. He is so funny and so sweet.
Best of all were the ports. We went to Blue Lagoon at Nassau, which I would highly recommend. Took our own taxi tour on St. Thomas, which was nice and incorporated several things we wanted to do on our own time, including sights from skyline drive and Megan's Bay and shopping. All lovely. We had originally intended to go go St. John on our own, but our taxi driver (in air conditioned comfort versus 96 degrees) convinced us to go with him on our own tour for $25 each, which was more than fair and cheaper than the shore excursions. After the tour, he picked us up from the beach and dropped us off in time to shop at Havensight.
At St. Maarten we took the Golden Eagle catamaran tour, which I very highly recommend, provided you aren't the type to get seasick. We had waves like rollercoasters, but the sailing ship operation was first rate, we had unlimited drinks, food and champagne (which they don't tell you on the cruise ship, served by crew in bowties and shorts) and snorkeled on this gorgeous uninhabited island called Tintamar. Truly lovely and truly memorable.
All in all, a GREAT cruise. However, given my dithers, I'd prefer the same ports on a Spirit class ship--a bit smaller, more pool space, a bit friendlier because of its smaller size, and a better layout.
But you can't go wrong with the price! Worth every penny!
For teens, the arcade is a very happening place. But my gregarious son enjoyed himself much more than my shy daughter. Bigger also means slightly more daunting to shy teens. But lots of them on our summer cruise, and if your child isn't shy, they will have a ball!