I have been sailing for over forty years, on almost all the cruise lines - some that are still sailing and some that are no longer in business. I have sailed previously on Carnival several times, including on the Carnival Miracle two years ago following a similar itinerary.
Embarkation - we arrived at the terminal at 11:00 and were on board, eating lunch on the Lido Deck, by 12:00. Our rooms were ready by 2:00 and our luggage arrived soon after.
Cleanliness - the ship was well maintained. All public rooms and public bathrooms were always clean.
Ports of Call - this cruise sailed to Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, and Nassau. Margaritaville at Grand Turk was a short walk from the ship and was quite pleasant, especially since we were the only ship docked there. The last time we were there, there were two ships docked there and it was quite crowded. Half Moon Cay, which is their own private island, was beautiful. It was well maintained, with plenty of chairs and activities. It was much nicer than NCL's private island. The only drawback here was that it was extremely hot! Nassau is what it is. It has not changed in forty years. Some of our group opted for the Shallow Water Dolphin/Aquaventure tour at Atlantis. It was fabulous and well worth the price. They had ample opportunity to take part in all the different amenities.
Food - the quality of the dining room food has gone downhill in the past two years. Food that was to have been served hot was usually served luke warm. Cold food, like salad, was served luke warm. That is, apparently, the only temperature they have. Beef, except for the filet mignon, was tough and fish selections were extremely limited; hope you like tilapia and shrimp cocktail! We traveled with an eight year old who was given a children's menu on the first evening with slim pickings for choices. She wasn't given a menu again the rest of the trip and we ended up having to specially request things as simple as grilled cheese at the start of every meal.
The food on the Lido Deck was far superior to the dining room, and as a result we ate breakfast and lunch there every day.
Entertainment - there wasn't any!! Well, not quite. This ship is still presenting the same three revues - Generations, Ticket to Ride, and Singing with the Big Bands - that they were doing two years ago. The very same, exactly the same, same costumes, same backdrops, same music......but not the same dancers, and therein lies a problem!!! These shows were fabulous to watch two years ago. Though I did not want to see them again, I did go - and saw what could only be described as the high school version of the show. The dancers were sub-par and made the repetition of the show even more glaring. On nights when it wasn't a revue, the variety acts were just as bad. We had a Rock and Roll Juggler (who had also been on there last summer) and a hideous female vocal impersonator from Canada - who, despite changing wigs on stage, sounded exactly the same no matter who she was claiming to be. She also saw fit to insult the US passengers within two minutes of beginning her act. Not so bright to bite the hand that feeds you, Eh!!
Activities - the cruise director, Malcolm, who many have complimented here, was non-existent during this cruise. Other than the first night, when the staff was introduced, he was nowhere to be seen around the ship. He did do an insipid morning show each day on the television in the rooms; it had no worth. The rest of the entertainment staff - Sparkles, Buttercup, William, and Jersey Girl - was adequate, at best. I enjoy attending trivia contests aboard a ship. I was annoyed and disappointed that at numerous events, the same old questions were repeated - over and over again. Enough with "The Boys of Summer" by Don Henley and what the capital of Kentucky is (Spoiler alert: it is Frankfort)!! While I realize they do the same job each and every week, the sudden and clear lack of enthusiasm for the events taking place, once we had reached the islands, was off-putting.
Camp Carnival - as stated before, we sailed on this ship two years ago. At that time, there was a wealth of activities for the children in Camp Carnival. There were at least two activities each day that were "family" activities that you could do with your children. One day, back then, there was a stuffed animal creation session that was an additional fee. This time around, there was only one family event - a scavenger hunt. However, there was the same bear making session - for a price of $40 a bear - each and every day. Not once, not even twice, but EVERY SINGLE SEA DAY. I come on the trip to be with my child - not drop her off the first day and pick her up as we disembark, like many parents chose to do. The activities offered to the children were limited in scope - I didn't really need my daughter to go on a cruise to be told each day an hour of activity was video games. There were also a few too many "Freddy" events linked into buying Freddy souvenirs.
Class - while I enjoy family cruising, many of the other families that were on felt it was a place to come on and then dump their kids, while they (the adults) carried on like they were frat boys. Children from the age of six to twenty were allowed to roam the ship, day and night, without any parental supervision or correction. ..Oh, that's right, they were too busy drinking and acting like idiots on the Lido Deck to supervise or care about the kids. Kids were pounding on doors, prank calling random cabins, and leaving half-eaten pizza in other people's mailboxes. Dining room guidelines were completely ignored, with shorts, tank tops and rubber flip flops the norm each night. While I expect to sit next to somebody wearing a shirt that says "I got Crabs at Joe's" if I am at McDonald's, I do not expect that in the cruise ship dining room. I feel that the cruise line was wrong to not have enforced the printed dress code each day.
I feel Carnival is "dumbing down" the entire cruising experience. My entire family is going to have to think long and hard before ever booking with them again. Hopefully, the cruise we have already booked on board the Carnival Glory in August is a better experience all around.