First off, here is a list of things things that you should know:
1. Do not worry about getting tickets for your excursions. They are delivered to your stateroom on the first night.
2. If you get a balcony room, the door will not stay open by itself. Bring a bungee cord and you can keep the door open.
3. The steakhouse is worth the extra fee. Amazing!
4. I was bothered by the ship more than I expected. We called Carnival to book and the agent put us in a room in the middle of the ship. So glad we made the call because if I felt ill I would go back to the room and the feeling passed quickly. Carnival will help with all your questions - give them a call!
5. Wine and water/pop must be packed in your carry-on bag. So basically, your carry-on bag is only able to carry these few heavy items. A wheeled bag would be suggested because it can be a long wait in the port authority.
6. Go to breakfast at truffles. The food is always better and it is empty every morning.
Our travel party was myself, my husband, and my husband's (retired) parents.
Getting on the Ship: We live in the Tampa-bay area, so we took a cab to the port authority. We arrived at about 1:00 pm, and the line to get through the port authority was so long. Our carry-on bags were so heavy. Next time I will bring a bag with wheels. We finally got on to the ship and the rooms were open and the buffet was ready. Even though we were first-time cruisers, there were people with red shirts answering questions in the lobby, so it was easy to figure out what to do.
The Room: We had a balcony room and it was worth the extra money. It was beautiful to look out at the water all of the time and we often sat outside and relaxed (without fighting for a chair on the deck). The room, the dining rooms, the hallways, etc. were all much smaller then I expected. The ceiling was so low. It is a boat, I know, but I guess I thought it would be like a hotel. It didn't distract from the fun I had on the trip. There is a tv in the room and some decent tv channels and movies. I liked that I could still watch the news, etc. Beds and pillows were great - don't worry about bringing your own.
The Food: The food in the Unicorn Cafe was decent, but only okay. I have had worse and better. It was fine for a week. The food in Truffles was always good and the portions were huge! If you book the late 8:30 dining and worry that it is too late to eat - don't be worried at all. You are always so busy with activities that lunch is usually late (or you get lunch and a snack in the afternoon). I was never hungry by 5:30 - it was always later. Also, breakfast in Truffles was the best - we only did the Unicorn cafe twice for breakfast and regretted it the second time.
The Fun: There was so much to do. We couldn't fit it all in. The ports were great fun and we basically went swimming every day. The staff was amazing, especially our waiter. The one show we went to (Marcus Anthony) was great. We were also so relaxed and had just a great time.
The cruise and Carnival in general gets our recommendation 100%. We will cruise again, but we will probably upgrade to a better line just to try it out.