Our only other Carnival cruise was 15 years ago, a 4 day to the Bahamas. Decided to "jump ship" from Royal Caribbean because of price and itinerary. We got 2 more days and one more port for abour $1000 less per person. Didn't know for sure if we would regret it or not.
No regrets! The ship is smaller that what we are used to, and the decor seemed dark, but I quickly got used to it. Preferred it to the neon you see on some other Carnival ships.
Embarkation was a breeze once we got past the long line outside the terminal where we had to schlep our own luggage along for about a half an hour. Didn't like that.
Our cabin was clean and spacious with an extended balcony. The cabin smelled fresh, no odor of leftover smoke. There was the occasional smell of food being prepared ( We were under the La Playa buffet...no noise, though).
We had numerous maintenance issues that were resolved by contacting our excellent steward, Michael, or guest services. Our A/C was not working the first night and one lamp was stuck on "on" On our first sea day night, we were awakened by a horrible smoke smell that was coming through the A/C vents in the middle of the night. It was contained to our deck(8) and the aft of the ship. After a fair amount of apprehension among ourselves and our neighbors, it was finally explained that no, there was no fire, and yes, the situation was under control. We were told that the garbage incinerator vent had become plugged and it backed up into the A/C system.
I was concerned about the smoking issue, having been warned that Carnival attracts smokers because of their more lenient policies. I HATE smoke and am very sensitive to it. Other than the casino, which stunk worse than any ship casino I've been in, there were no problems. They REALLY should try to do something about the ventilation in there. There were some down times, though, when it wasn't too bad, so we could play and DH and I managed to walk out in the plus column for a change!
The one thing I thought was sub-par was the food. We are not "foodies" by any means, but do have a certain expectation of cruise ship food. My biggest complaint is that the food was frequently cold, both in the main dining room and at the buffet. Our waiter, while friendly and hard working, seemed inexperienced. On many ships, you barely have to think about what you might need and it magically appears. Not here. Extra requests were always greeted with a positive attitude, but sometimes never happened. Like the extra scoop of stuffing that showed up with my dessert.....
Loved the 24 hour ice cream and the 3pm banana splits on the Fantail Deck on sea days! Also loved the deli's reuben sandwiches!
Entertainment was really fun, loved the Cruise Director Stu and the Ass't Cruise director Weezie. They had a morning show on TV that was really a hoot....so dorky you had to love it....think of Regis and Kelly in Mayberry. You could call in to win prizes...I think hardly anyone was watching because we came home with a picture frame, an under water camera, and a Carnival terry robe. The production shows were really good, the comedians were pretty good, and the show band was one of the best we've ever cruised with. Truly outstanding. We don't really pay much attention to the show band...they're kind of just "there", but they were really great.
On board dance band "High Rise" was also really good..played a wide range of music and the lounge was non=smoking. Perfect!
Internet was very slow, but what do you expect out in the middle of the Pacific. Used my Blackberry in ports so I don't know how it was then.
Debarkation in Vancouver was super easy. MUCH more relaxing and easy than anything I have experienced on Royal. We could stay in our cabin until 9am, then we left and hung out in the buffet until they called us around 9:30. We were off the ship in no time, and luggage was very easy to find. Customs was a breeze and we were walking around checking out Vancouver by 10:30am.