This was my first time on Carnival. You definately get what you pay for, but I was just happy to be on a cruise! My girlfriends and I booked this cruise in January 2010 with a TN resident rate that couldn't be beat. Being Spring Break time, there were many, many, MANY children on board, we were told there were over 900 and it felt like it. No college kids, just small children.
This is a smokey ship. I had read this in previous reviews and didn't know how to take that, but this is very true. There are designated smoking areas, but they are not policed by any means. The casino is dreadfully smokey at night so be aware!
The food quality was very well prepared. The menu was more tame than food on other ships I have been on, but the quality was top notch.
I enjoyed having a young entertainment staff. Jenn and Chicken were wonderful Cruise Director and Assistant. They were everywhere all day long and I really appreciated their energy! Entertainment fantastic! Go to the late night comedy and burlesque show. Sometimes, it is nice to enjoy a dirty joke now and then without the sensor for family audiences.
If you are not from Louisiana, or New Orleans for that matter, you will feel like a minority. I think I can say I heard "Whoo Dat" more times in one week than I will the rest of my life :)
Another point to be weary of, is the buffet lines. This is something else I read about on many cruise reviews. Many cruisers were discussing this as well on board. Everyone seemed to have their own opinion as to why the lines are longer than other ships, but no one really knows. All I can say is, space out your eating times to avoid the inevitable lengthy line.
We found a quieter spot on the back of the ship to lay out. If you go back where the pizza station is and up one level, there is much less action since you are away from the hustle and bustle of the main pool. Big thumbs up here! You might have to grab your own chair, but it is oh so worth it!
THE GYM IS AMAZING! Very spacious with top of the line equipment. I worked out twice, and the equipment is nicer than that at my gym at home. It does get very hot, but that just burns more calories right? :)
Couple of things about the room. 1. We had an interior stateroom and there is a radio in the wall that plays on the speaker in the ceiling! We were smitten with this! 2. The closet space was impressive for the size of the room-we had three 26 year old women with enough space for all of our clothes 3. Our very small shower flooded once
Embarkation: Needs more attendant lines for check in. Once we were corraled to get on the boat, embarkation was passable. Just be prepared to hurry up and wait. Hotel recommendation: STAY AT THE DRURY INN!!!! Hands down, best for your money! They have a happy hour with drinks (alcoholic and non) and food. They also have a comp breakfast with hot food including a waffle station. They room was enormous and extremely comfortable. We paid $35 for parking for the week! Just be sure to tell them you are doing the Cruise and Park. Paid $7 each way for the taxi to and from the terminal. I cannot stress enough how relieved we were to not park at the terminal. This place is extremely clean, the staff is great, and it is blocks from the French Quarter.
Debarkation: This was a breeze! We did self assist and it was beyond easy. We each only had one bag plus "carry on" so we could carry it all ourselves. This put us in the first group to get off the ship, and saved us tons of time. Once we were off, we found a taxi and got back to the hotel in no more than five minutes!! We learned when parking at the terminal, they will only allow one person to go get the car while the rest of your party waits at the doors for you to find the car and drive around the block back to the terminal.
All in all a nice cruise!