We have heard both good and bad about Carnival but I have to say that my husband and I absolutely loved our cruise and had a wonderful time. The embarkation process was fairly quick - we arrived at the terminal by private car, our luggage was taken and not seen again until we were in our cabin. We showed our passports were given a zone number and when that number was called we got on the ship, established our sail and sign account and went to our cabin.
The crew on the Carnival are well trained and exceptionally courteous. They go out of their way to be of assistance. Let me address the food - the buffets are all very good. Standard variety of foods - breakfast has eggs, pancakes, fruit, toast, bagels, coffee, bacon etc. Lunch buffet consists of different stations - hamburgers and hot dogs - Chinese - deli sandwiches - jerk chicken a variety of salads, pizza, desserts, ice cream and more. Coffee, ice tea, lemonade, milk, juice are free. What you pay for is soda and/or alcoholic drinks. Strictly your choice to pay or not. There were 2 captain's dinners which we avoided as we did not want to dress up. On those nights we ate at the buffet. On the other 6 nights we ate in the dining room. We had anytime dining (5:45 to 9:30) and always asked for a table for two. When one was not immediately available we were given a pager and the longest we waited was 20 minutes. You have your choice of appetizers (as many as you like), salad, 1 or so diet dinner and your entree. We ate roast lamb, prime rib, strip steak, chicken, shrimp and much more. All were excellent, much better than I would have imagined.
After dinner you have your choice of entertainment. We saw 2 main shows. A Ticket to Ride - all Beatles songs and on another night Generations - songs from the 20's through the 90's. They were wonderful. The band was great as were the singers and dancers and the costumes were beautiful. We also saw a juggler/comedian and a few different adult comedians. All were very good. You could have, if you chose to, dance, listen to various musicians, party on the lido deck, gamble in the casino or just people watch. No shortage of things to do.
We visited Grand Turk Island - very tiny and very charming. We took a tour and there is no view from that island that is not gorgeous.
On Half Moon Cay, an island that Carnival rents, I believe, we took an Eco lagoon tour and had a wonderful barbecue. You could swim, snorkel or just lay on the beach.
The third stop was Nassau - so beautiful and I got to do my favorite thing - shop for jewelry. We also took a Sea and See tour in Nassau which was a short tour on land followed by a boat ride to a submarine which takes you below the water to see the fish. Unfortunately we saw no sharks or stingrays, we did see Hank the Barracuda and some beautiful schooling fish. We also saw Oprah Winfrey's house from a distance and were told that Tom Cruise lives next door. The two days cruising back to New York were very relaxed and low key. All in all we had an absolutely wonderful trip.
I should also say that our room was a good size. I highly recommend the extended deck. I slept out there 2 nights. Our room steward Greg was an absolute doll and could not have been nicer. One night I was not feeling well and he rang the room at 9:00 pm to see if I needed anything. Unfortunately, we are back home to reality but looking forward to our next cruse.