The proximity of Charleston from our home in NC along with the value of the cruise spurred us to give it a try as a family of 4. We have a 6 and 3 year old and the cruise was perfect for the 6 year old. Camp Carnival is really award winning in our eyes. It is extremely well organized, well structured and grouped for specific age groups, and safe to leave our kids. There weren't a ton of kids on this specific cruise so the camp wasn't overrun with kids and thankfully it also was past the college spring break so it wasn't too rowdy on board.
The bad of this cruise is in my opinion for little kids on the outside. With you being at sea for 3 of the 5 days, you are going to be onboard quite a bit. The pool is 4.5 feet deep and is that deep across the width of the pool. There isn't a shallow end for small kids that can't swim plus they are way too young to use the slides (again, for older kids (6+) those are fun, even I enjoyed a few rides). So I would knock the ship from this perspective. It impacted our fun quite a bit since they would get frustrated and kinda bored plus you have to be on top of them constantly.
As for the cruise from an adult perspective I think it was about what I expected since this was our 2nd Carnival Cruise.
1) The food in the dining room was average to slightly above average. The selections weren't great every night but at least there were 1 or 2 standout items worth trying. Didn't blow your socks off but its Carnival so you come to expect that. The buffet in the morning was good (good omelets) and the lunches were not bad either. I think the Mongolian Wok station is kinda neat since you can get your own stir fry with Chicken, beef, or shrimp.
2) The 2 entertainment shows were good, even though there were some risque costumes.
3) We saw a family friendly comedy show, which I must say I enjoy the option before 10pm, that was very good.
4) Camp Carnival - Outstanding!
5) Stateroom attendant was prompt and attentive. Room was comfy and the bathroom wasn't too small. Water was always nice and hot when needed.
6) Bathrooms in the Spa/Gym were a nice touch, including the sauna and steamroom.
7) Typical Carnival Excursion prices, so just research on your own and you can do the same thing for 30-50% less.
8) Push the drinks but again you just have to say no a lot. Doesn't bother me, I know the business model they operate and deal with it.
Debarkation was FANTASTIC! They now do a silent debarkation and every 15 minutes if you decide to take your own luggage off, you just go to the forward most elevators when its time for your side of the deck you are on to get off. It moves very well considering that Charleston's terminal was not built for cruise ships. We were off the ship, and into our shuttle back to our car in 15 minutes.
Overall, I would probably cruise Carnival again but will wait until my youngest is closer to 5-6 and she can enjoy just about any ship we board.