One of the first things we did was take a few minutes to purchase the wine package that the ship offers, the cost of which varies depending on your choice of packages and, I think, depending on the number of days you are cruising. It is a good value and can be used in the dining room, steakhouse or at the numerous bars throughout the ship. We chose the middle of the road package and were quite pleased with the selection. It values out at about a 20% discount per bottle. Not too shabby.
We had an aft stateroom with extended balcony, extended being deeper than the usual balconies. Very roomy. We had friends in the stateroom next door and the steward was able to open the divider door between the two balconies. We had a pre-sailing party of 12 and everyone was able to comfortably fit on the two respective balconies. The room was clean and well stocked with glasses, towels, and complimentary toiletries. Because of the room configuration, the entry way from the door to the inner cabin is very narrow, basically wide enough for the closet doors to be opened, or the bathroom door to be opened, if the closet doors are closed. The rest of the cabin was sufficiently roomy, had a bed, desk, table, chair and ottoman but no couch in our particular room. The closet and other storage were very adequate. Our steward, Gabriel, was very professional and did a fine job.
The sail away festivities were fun. My husband, being a career Navy man, has sailed out of Norfolk many times but this was the first time holding a cold beer.
Our group of 12 had dinner in the steakhouse one night and it was outstanding. I had a Fred Flintstone sized prime rib and it was cooked perfectly. If you like cheesecake be sure to order that for dessert but be advised the portion is large enough for two (really!). Great food, great service. Well worth the additional $30 per person.
The main dining room was somewhat of a disappointment on this cruise. The quality of the food was not as good this go round as it had been on previous cruises. It was good, but not fabulous. The biggest disappointment this time was the dining room service. Although everyone was very friendly and polite, the entire wait staff was just "off" all week. On more than one night, we waited almost an hour for starters, several times dishes ordered were never served, sometimes the wrong dish was served, etc., etc. We did have a large party and never sat in the same seat on any given night and that could account for some of the problems or it could have been a kitchen problem. Overall, disappointing, given our previous experiences on Carnival.
The ports of call were fun and the staff got the passengers on and off the ship very proficiently. We did not take any ship sponsored excursions so cannot comment on those.
We saw a couple of the shows and enjoyed them very much. There were some very talented performers.
Debarkation was very slow. It took us over three hours from the time they called self-assist until we got off the ship but I think there were several contributing factors, not the least being that we were in Zone 28, the last one called. This was also immediately following the aborted terrorist attempt to ship explosives to a synagogue in the Detroit and I think because of that there was increased security and the luggage screening and customs was even more thorough than usual. Personally, I am ok with that.
Overall, we had a great time and were very pleased with the quality and value we received. Except as previously noted, the crew and other staff members were excellent and we were extremely satisfied. We had a great time and are looking forward to our next adventure.