Background: This was my 4th cruise (2 other Carnival (Fascination & Inspiration) and 1 Norwegian (Jade)). I am in the 25-34 age range. Cruise was booked through my mother who is a travel agent, 30 family members ranging from 6 months to 78 years, stayed in suites, balconies and inside cabins.
Embarkation and Rooms: Drove into the city. Parking at port is $150 for the trip, they take your luggage right where you park and we were loaded by zones fairly quickly, but I heard there was a longer wait if you got there after 11:30. Ate lunch on the lido deck, explored ship and then checked out room around 1:45. Inside cabin on second deck was decently sized, lots of storage and quite comfortable. Steward always remember our names. This was my first time in an inside stateroom, although it did the job, I prefer a window so I at least know what time of day it is. My parents had a balcony and the balcony seems to be the best bang for the buck, especially because you can whale watch on this cruise. I saw the suites a couple of us were staying in and they were really nothing special for an extra $1800.
The Ship: The ship was fairly large. Even though there were 30 of us, we had trouble finding each other. I recommend bringing walkie-talkies if you have children. There are 3 pools and plenty jacuzzis, but only a few of us went into the water as it was pretty cool going into the North Atlantic. There were always lounge chairs, but it was pretty breezy to lay out. The serenity deck was nice for adults with cushioned chairs, couches, bar service, hammocks and jacuzzis on 2 levels.
Food: Lunch was the best quality and offered the most variety. I was disappointed that the sushi bar was only open during dinner time. I would've rather had it as a snack in between lunch and dinner. Dinner was hit or miss in the dining room, most food seemed bland, however service was good. Room service was decent, but in the morning I always heard someone was missing something or got the wrong thing. I recommend ordering different dishes so that if something doesn't work, you have back up. Plus you can order as much as you want! Lobster at captain's dinner was good as well as escargot, lamb, crab cakes, and pasta dishes. The service was great as we were celebrating 3 birthdays and ordered cakes for everyone.
Entertainment: We reserved the green room to show a slideshow of our family and it worked out great! Movies on the deck at night were nice, we went and got pizza for the movies, they give you fleece blankets. Casino was always hopping and a couple of us walked away with cash. The White Heat club, which was the best club I've been on so far on a ship...up to date music and a lot of fun! We also spent time in the karaoke bar and had a blast. The other smaller bars smelled funny. Bingo was always $20 and out of 30 of us we didn't win anything. Comedy shows I didn't think were that funny and seemed like short samplers. The adult one felt PG to me. The other "vegas style shows" were a lot better than the other Carnival ships I've been on, however, if you have small children you may want to skip out on the magic show as it's basically a lot of sexual suggestive movements and the girls wear thongs, spikes and lingerie. If you've been to broadway shows, this is a few steps below, but still entertaining. The little ones with us didn't care too much for Camp Carnival and 1 of our teens like the teen club while another did not. Babysitting is $6 an hour per kid and they babysit in the camp until 3 a.m. We did feel bored at times however and found that a lot of what was happening cost at least $20, which adds up fast. I paid $8.50 for the cockatil of the day, which was supposed to be a special price. You really need to be careful because your bill can add up fast.
St. John: I had booked a kayak trip with an outside excursion provider who was told by the port people that our ship wasn't coming in so he left. I think they try to keep outside people away, so you may want to be careful when booking outside excursions. I had booked a whale kayaking trip, which was not an excursion the ship offered. After finding out the bad news, we ended up paying a taxi $50 a person to take us around for 4.5 hours. We saw the caves, a lighthouse, almost got ran over by a moose, the reversing falls, historic downtown and ate really good fish and chips at the caves. The town is pretty small, it's much nicer if you go out and see the natural scenery.
Halifax: We did the harbor walk, Maritime museum, Keith's brewery and the public gardens which were beautiful. There are a lot of shops in town and neat things to see along the way.
Overall impression: This Carnival ship was much better than the other 2 I've been on, however the NCL ship I went on still comes in number 1 for appearance, entertainment, rooms, quality, food and free style cruising. I'm still missing my NCL cruise and I was on ship for 16 days last year! It was nice to get our family together. I think if this trip was just me and my husband we would be bored out of our minds and out a lot more money. Having our family made things much more entertaining.