First off - I had a great time. We left on July 17th for the seven-day cruise to the Mexican Riviera. We went with 6 other people - all family - 6 adults, 5 children all under 10 years old. My cabin was portside, aft on the Verandah level, Deck 8. It was quiet and the housekeeping staff - Bernard and Gaday - were excellent. If you travel on this cruise - these two guys are outstanding - and knew all our names after only one meeting - including my kids. This was our second cruise on Carnival (the first on the Ecstasy - 4-day cruise to Ensenada). But it was our first with all the kids. I'll just go by the list of things that stuck out:
Cabin: very good. Quiet; we had a balcony. Cabin was clean, no smoking odor or anything. A bit of vibration when the engines were at full but other than that - we were on a quiet part of the ship - with the exception of our kids. We had a note placed in our box that we were being too loud but I believe the people that wrote it had a horrible embarkation, hated the room, and were jawing with the Carnival staff before we even got to our cabin.
Food: very good. If you like to eat - this ship has it all. I must give a shout out to both Connie and Valencio in the Gold Pearl Dining Room. They were awesome. They treated us very well and brought out multiple main courses so we could sample them. They were great to our kids and my sister's kids and really went out of their way to make the dinners special. Not really wanting to go to the sit down dinners more than once or twice - I'm glad I only missed one sitting. Special props to the BBQ Cornish Game Hen - it is really good.
Entertainment: we didn't hit any of the shows because its not our thing but there was a Colombian salsa/merengue 3-member band on that ship and they are good. Every where they went - they had a crowd. The guy at the piano bar is a bit whacky but he's pretty fun and is always on or near the same level as the people listening (who are often pretty juiced up).
Trip: this cruise needs a third stop. We stopped in Cabo and that was fun - but there was hardly any time to do anything. Passengers had to be back on the ship by 6pm. Add to it that on this cruise - the weather was a factor. Bad weather forced the ship to sail to Puerto Vallarta that night even though we were supposed to spend two nights in a row at Cabo. Puerto Vallarta was awesome however and the water was so warm. If you get a chance - take cab to the El Dorado Hotel. They have palapas in front. Just buy some drinks and food and you can stay as long as you want. A great place on the beach to just hang out. I wish we had stayed two days in Puerto as I liked it better than Cabo. In all - the days at sea were a bit much. With no cruise line porting in Mazatlan anymore, you have an extra day at sea. The ship is fun and vibrant - but it doesn't beat a port day in Mazatlan. I hope they bring this city back when things calm down there but maybe they could try Acapulco?
Camp Carnival: we were disappointed. We had high hopes that this program would give the kids some enrichment while we hung out with adults. But two staff members were rude to us on the 3rd day and we soured on it. Also - irregular schedule made it difficult to plan the day. We used it three times during the whole cruise and once was family day and the scavenger hunt.
Debarkation: we were given a high number (25) so the initial wait was long. But once we were called - we were off the ship and out of customs in 15 minutes.
Bottom Line: I would recommend this cruise but I think it definitely needs a third city to stop at. Every staff member - with the notable exception of two members of Camp Carnival - were friendly and went out of their way to make the trip memorable.