Greetings CruiseCritic Friends. This was my fourth cruise and my first since finding CruiseCritic, so this will be my first review. I hope you find it helpful.
I went on this cruise as part of a group of 17 people: two grandmoms, three dads, four moms, and eight kids aged from seven to 13. The group was fine - nice friends - no complaints there. But overall I didn't love the cruise and wouldn't do it again, mainly because my kids were bored much of the time during the sea days. This cruise includes three sea days and three port days, so if you don't enjoy the sea days, it's a bummer.
My middle schoolers weren't interested in the planned youth activities for the most part, and my second grader doesn't do well in that kind of setting. I knew that going in, but hoped that the pools, hot tubs, water slide, and other deck activities would keep them entertained. That didn't work well, though, due to weather. Only one pool and hot tub can be covered on this boat - everything else is outside - and most of the time it was too cold, windy, and/or rainy for the deck activities. I thought there might also be, say, kid-friendly movies showing somewhere, because one of our cruises had that, but this one didn't. There weren't really any kid-friendly activities on board at all other than the youth activities and the aforementioned deck areas. So while we were at sea, the kids spent way more time than I'd have hoped in our cabin watching TV. Ugh.
Also, the whole first sea day was very rough and everyone felt yucky. Many people vomited. Can't blame this on Carnival, of course.
Final complaint: Not enough ondeck seating. When the weather was decent, I could never find a chair.
There were definitely some positives, though, including amazing excursions (if you like nature and easy kayaking):
1. I loved the food in the dining room, called the Normandie Room. The service and food were both excellent. The food in the cafeteria-style area, called the Mermaid Grill, was also very good. No food complaints from me. My son did the soda deal and got all of us sodas whenever we wanted them, which was great.
2. Our excursion in Port Canaveral, called something like "Kayaking Manatee Cove", was amazing. Great up-close experiences with manatees and dolphins.
3. Our friends had an amazing experience on their Freeport excursion, called something like "Nature Preserve Kayaking". They were taken to an incredibly beautiful and totally secluded beach that they call came back raving about. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (We went snorkeling (self-booked, not through Carnival) while they did that, which was also fun except that the very-salty water was too much for my fairest, most freckled child - he came out screaming after three minutes, which the guys working the boat recognized immediately as something that happens sometimes to people of Irish descent with very fair skin.)
4. Our interior cabin, although probably the smallest available for four people, was comfortable with fresh air, nice bathroom space, and ample storage in closets, which worked fine for me since I'd remembered to bring hangers. Only a few hangers were provided; perhaps they steward would've brought more if we'd asked. W/o plentiful hangers, the storage wouldn't have been adequate for four people.
5. My kids loved the 24-hour free soft ice cream. I think it was their favorite thing about the boat.
Hope that's helpful. If you go with kids, think about what they'll do during those long hours while the ship's at sea, esp. if the weather's not great. Bring hangers. Pack ligher than I did. :) Kayak in Port Canaveral and Freeport. And, of course, have a great time.