This was my 47th Cruise, 8th on Carnival. I also Cruise RCCL, Princess, and NCL.
We chose this trip over the Independence of the Seas because of the cost, and it became obvious to us that we had gotten what we paid for.
Embarkation, There was a delay in embarkation. We got to the pier at 10:30, they said they would start 11:00-11:15, but actually started at 1145. Check in was easy at 1030, and we just waited until 1145. Heard later that the check in time was an hour + so was happy to have checked in early as usual.
Upon getting on the ship, I found the ship in pretty good repair. Ship was clean, as it stayed for the whole trip.
This was the beginning of spring break, but not too many kids on board (600 or so) and for the most part they were well behaved, except for a few families that didn't think it was their job to watch their kids.
Entertainment - Started with a comedian, then a late night comedian, then a vantrilliquist, then another comedian who also did a late night show, but then it cut out and did a lot of singers and dancers (which i find boring) and 2 nights where the entertainers did not "show up". Also, 1 night was a Talent show (eyeroll) and one night was the carnival legends, where the karioke winners sing (eyeroll). Those two events are obviously put in to save money, and are boring. There should be comedy or guest entertainers every day.
They had 2 game shows, and they were really funny, but some of the staff didn't seem to be impressed by them.
Food - I wasn't impressed by the buffet on carnival, they are so much smaller than Royal Caribbean and Princess' buffets, however I have come to expect this from carnival. NOTE: Be sure to check both sections of the buffet at lunch, as they are different.
The deli was good, but they were notorious for messing up orders, and it became a joke after a while. Pizza and Calzones were good. I really liked the chicken fingers at lunch at the Grille. The buffets had a long line due to not having the stations like RCCL and Princess do. You have to wait for things you don't want to get to the stuff that you do want.
I was upset that they took the Melting Chocolate Cake out of the buffet in the evening, as we eat in the buffet for about half the trip.. Just not interested in waiting for the dining room for so long.
Debarkation, we were the first group off for the Express Departure, off the ship by 645, at the airport at 715.
OBSERVATIONS. 1) Cutbacks. Starting with our cruise, they stopped the snacks at the lobby bar, took chocolates off pillows, took away the melting cake, and a few other minor things.
2) We had a water sloshing noise in our room, they couldn't figure out what it was, but their response was an austonishing "well, no one has ever complained about it before" That response upset me a lot, even when they came to the room and heard it too.