We flew from Hartford to Baltimore in the AM and were the third group to board the ship. I recommend getting to the terminal early (we boarded around 1-1:30pm.) We got up to the Lido Deck first and could see all of the lunch options and got a great table before the rest of the passengers boarded.
Our group consisted of me and DH (both mid-40s), my parents (both mid-60s), DHs 2 sons, 16 & 17 yrs old, and my son, 12, and daughter 8. Myself and my parents have cruised several times before on Carnival & RC., but no one else in our group had. They all loved it!
The cabin was roomy, bed extremely comfortable (and I sleep on a Sleep Number at home), plenty of storage, great shower, soft sheets, and the balcony is a must have! Boys had an inside cabin - no complaints. Bring a power strip. Handy for recharging cell phones, video camera, walkie-talkies, etc. And the bungee cord worked well to hold the balcony door open, which we did not do often. We were in the back of the ship and it seemed the whole ship vibrated quite a bit.
Dining - Lido was good but I like to be pampered. Breakfast and dinner were excellent in the Normandie. Took a little long for dinner - 1 1/2 - 2 hrs. A little hard on my special needs son but he entertained himself w/ his DSi.
The staff are always willing to please. They are super friendly and Kirk the cruise director and his assistant, Jaime, made my cruise by reading a letter my husband wrote about me for my birthday on their Morning Show on-board.
We never saw our teenagers, they made new friends and entertained themselves when they weren't going on a shore excursion or having dinner with us. My 12 and 8 year old enjoyed the pool, hot tub, water slide (I enjoyed it too!), and the shows. We missed a few shows because they were way too late at night for us (10pm & 10:30pm). Bummer. And parents be forewarned - the shows are PG for costumes - they mean it. My kids got an education.
If any fellow cruisers met a gentleman in his 60's who happened to pull a quarter out of their ear or off their shoulder, saw him levitate or pull a poker chip out of his mouth, that was my dad, "Magic Mike" who was on vacation with us. He loved walking up to random passengers and performing impromptu magic for them. He is NOT with Carnival. He just loves magic and to make people smile.
We all gained weight, ate well, slept well, were entertained, pampered (I highly recommend the Fire & Ice pedicure), and best of all, I turned my family on to cruising. We did Disney World and Atlantis Shallow Water Dolphin experience shore excursions. Expensive but first-rate. Memories to last a lifetime. And that's what it's all about, isn't it?