I was nervous about our first 2 days as they were at sea and I wasn't sure about how rough the Atlantic would be. Turns out it was fine! Actually less rocking than once we got in the Caribbean. There was lots to do on those 2 days at sea. An amazing show at night - fun things by the pools and of course, the food! WOW - SO delicious. We ate in the dining room every evening at the last sitting (8:15) Carnival does now offer early dining at 6, late dining at 8:15 or anytime dining (5:45-9:30) - which we would choose next time. The late dining was great though as after a day of exploring ports, you don't need to rush back and get ready for dinner. The food was really great though - salads, shrimp, crab cakes, steak, lobster - you name it.
Dress code - The dining room dress code was really not enforced at all. Lots of people in sneakers, shorts, etc. Still, I think it is nice to be a little more presentable during a three course dinner! The Buffet is for the more casual diners. While the Buffet is not 24/7, the juice machines, along with pizza and ice cream machines are. I was never hungry.
Pools - There were three main pool areas, each with a small, 4 ft 6" pool and a small hot tub. The middle area was where the stage and music was, and the aft and forward ones were quieter. For the reader, deck 10 (sun deck) is nice and quiet to just lay out.
Shows - I was pleasantly surprised at how talented the dancers and singers were! They were very entertaining. I wasn't crazy about the comedian or hypntoist shows, but it was all in good fun. You can always head down to Frankensteins to dance, or to one of the other bars to relax and listen to some music.
Overall, I LOVED this cruise. The decor could be a little tacky, but who cares? It was really clean and the staff couldn't do enough to help you. The three ports in 8 days was just enough as the days at sea were really relaxing.