My husband and I chose this cruise to celebrate our 1 year wedding anniversary. We are both in our 20s, this was my 13th cruise and only his 2nd.
I have cruised Carnival several times before and absolutely LOVED them. I talked it up to my husband, telling him how much better it would be than the Royal Caribbean ship we were on in Europe. We didn't have a problem shelling out the extra cash because it was a new ship, supposed to be awesome, etc. I was wrong.
Embarkation was probably the easiest part of the whole cruise. The staff was very helpful and got us right on within about 20 minutes of us getting out of our car.
As soon as we stepped on the ship, I was expecting a grand open feeling and it was the complete opposite. The whole time we felt closed in, crowded, etc. You'd never know this was Carnival's biggest ship aside from the fact that there's so many freaking people. All of the ceilings are low, hallways and public areas are extremely cramped. I will say our balcony stateroom was decent sized, the bathroom had lots of counter/shelf space, although the balcony itself overlooked a "lanai" area where people were constantly in hot tubs, lounging around, etc so no privacy on the balcony.
Kids and teenagers were running around EVERYWHERE. I understand Carnival is the "Funships" and the choice for a lot of families but it felt like there was absolutely no supervision. Parents let their kids run wild all over the ship and do whatever they wanted. Our stateroom door was banged on several times by kids thinking they were funny, knocking and running away.
Food: (the most important part of any cruise for me) "The Gathering" was HORRIBLE. This is the buffet area. I am used to a large buffet with lots of choices daily but this one was two VERY limited lines with maybe 5 choices daily. There is also a Mongolian and Indian food area but that type of food is also very limiting for many people. The lines were RIDICULOUS. Way too many people for a small buffet and people were constantly cutting in line to "just grab one thing." The pasta bar upstairs from the buffet was where my husband and I ate lunch almost every day. THAT food was EXCELLENT. They give you a piece of paper with options for pasta and what you want in it and then you take it to the pasta chef and they bring it to your table. This was the best food we had on the whole cruise (including in the dining room).
Speaking of the main dining room, it was okay. We chose late seating and we were in the Scarlet room. Again, this is a two story "open" room but everything felt cramped. Our waiter was decent but no bond/interaction was really made. I've left ships where I wanted to cry because we got so close with the wait staff and this was definitely not the case. The food was decent, nothing above normal at all. Had to go with the alternate menu many nights because we didn't like what was on the nightly menu. Drink service at dinner was very bad. There was one bar guy for like 30 tables and sometimes it took over half an hour to get a drink or he didn't bring it at all. We both got the soda package sticker...one of the weirdest things I noticed was there were no soda "guns" anywhere on the ship. They had to pour every single soda out of a can which REALLY slowed things down especially if we just walked up to a bar to grab a soda.
Entertainment: We didn't go to every after dinner show but I WILL say the "Dancing in the Streets" show we went to was the BEST show I have ever seen on ANY cruise line or ship. There was not a second where I wasn't entertained during that show. Aside from their normal team of dancers, they had a team of breakdancers who were AWESOME. I probably would've watched that show every night if they had it. Other production shows were also pretty good. The cruise director (Todd?) was the worst I've ever had on any ship. He had no interaction with guests and seemed bored/tired/annoyed the entire time. This was pretty much the attitude of most of the staff we came in contact with. I don't know if they're being overworked or what but they just seemed like they did NOT want to be there helping us or anyone else.
We did a shore excursion in every port except Costa Maya (so we did one in Cozumel, Roatan, and Belize). We swam with dolphins in Cozumel which was the best part of the trip. We went to some ecological park in Roatan with birds and monkeys and it was kinda lame. We went "cave tubing" in Belize which we were expecting to be really fun and it was a total letdown. We took an hour and a half bus ride to get there (which we didn't even know about), then hiked 45 minutes through the jungle being eaten alive by mosquitoes, then finally made it to the water and only got to spend about 30 minutes "tubing" which consisted of a group of 8 people being linked together by their tubes which was extremely uncomfortable. My neck and shoulders hurt for the entire rest of the cruise after that.
And finally, disembarkation...we were literally the LAST number called off the ship. Most ships I've been on give you SOME kind of option as to when you want to get off. The only option on this ship was "get off at 6:30 in the morning carrying all your luggage or get off when we tell you to." So we used the luggage number tags they gave us and waited around in the theater for about two and a half hours.
So I guess to summarize, I would definitely NOT go back on this ship again. I am a fan of the bigger ships but this one was too overcrowded and didn't even have the benefits of a "big" ship. I will cruise with Carnival again but I'll be going back to their other classes of ships!