I spent the night in Charleston to avoid being tired on embarkation. I arrived at the port at 11:30 a.m. and about 30 cars were already in line. The flow was constant and it took a total of about 1 1/2 hours until we were actually on the ship. This really didn't seem so bad.
Upon entering the ship, I thought it was beautiful (and big even though it is a small cruise ship). I had one carry-on bag which was my small rolling suitcase. If it had been larger than 16x24 it would have to be checked with the rest of the luggage.
We looked around the ship a little, all the while with my suitcase in tow because we could not go to our cabins until 1:30. We went to the Windows by the Sea buffet until then.
The room was larger than it looked in pictures due to the configuration. I traveled with my teenage daughter and our beds were separate against the walls which left the middle of the room open. Couples may even want to consider this option to obtain more room if you don't have to have your spouse in the bed with you.
By 4:00 the rest of our luggage had arrived outside our cabin with the exception of one piece. My neighbor had the same problem but they eventually showed up.
When we were pulling out of port we made our way to the aft top deck. Everyone was happy and having a good time. Drinks (not free) were being served and pictures were being taken. Later we found out pictures were being taken every time you turned around and an entire area of the ship was dedicated to selling these pictures at a hefty price.
The entire cruise seemed like I was living in a never-ending infomercial. While we were looking around the ship we were whisked away into the spa for mini infomercials in every room of the spa including the gym. The liquor and jewelry stores were the same way.
Entertainment was severely lacking. Only two Broadway type shows which were ok. The comedians were good but packed in a small room leaving people standing. Lots of bars and a casino if you are into that. There was one terrific band in the cats lounge. I recommend everyone go see them. However, they are not there every night. Mr. H in the Cleopatra lounge was awesome, but on his night off, there was no one there to replace him. Most activities on board were geared toward audience members being the entertainment. Didn't I pay enough for my ticket to warrant professional entertainment? The very small pool was always overflowing. The adult only hot tub was filled with kids.
The food was not impressive. The buffet area on the Lido deck as well as the outside grill were very popular, yet lacking in quality. You could almost count on Penne pasta and tomato sauce every night. Some sort of cooked vegetable mixture like squash and zucchini. This buffet type meal should be open continuously during daylight hours because there was always a demand. This was not the case. You just had to schedule your meal times around your plans.
My main dining room was the Jubilee. Huge tables with at least 10 strangers. The Celebrity had smaller tables, but you are assigned a dining room, you don't get to pick. Ordering and delivery of food took forever. My time dining was wait listed and I didn't know until I got there that I had been assigned to an 8:15 seating, so I missed a lot of the entertainment. The quality of food there was good. Service was a little lacking.
Our order was reversed for visiting The Bahamas due to tropical storm Emily, so we visited Nassau first. Shore excursions were ok in Nassau. I rode the segway and parasailing was cancelled. Be forewarned, Carnival takes a cut of money for scheduling excursions for you. I paid 89.95 for parasailing, but as soon as I got into the first building in Nassau, the were offering it for $70, then later $40. However, if you book through Carnival, they make sure you make it back to your ship. The segways were fantastic!! It was longer than 1.5 hours though, so plan other excursions accordingly. My 8:30 trip ended after 11. We then walked to a private beach and swam for a while then made our way through the straw market. There you will be badgered by the peddlers to make purchases. All prices are negotiable. Picked up some $2.00 shot glasses there.
Freeport is an industrial area and you have to be taxied to excursions. I swam with dolphins at Unexa and it was fabulous. It was scheduled for 10:30. We left around 10:15 on a bus and arrived at around 10:40. Were were given armbands with a time on our receipt of 12:30. So we waited at an outside bar area while it was pouring the rain. Most of us were under shelter. Then a boat picked us up and took us to the dolphin facility in a lagoon. We chose the close encounter in which you sit around a platform in a square with your feet in the water and the dolphins perform for you. Then 2 at a time you get in with them and pet them and get a picture with them giving you a kiss. You also receive a t-shirt. Great experience, but it took all day. We arrived back to the ship at around 3 or 3:30.
Although we received a fun times newsletter every night detailing the next days activities, it was hard to keep on schedule and it wasn't relaxing at all to have to constantly keep an eye on your watch. Announcements about activities would be nice, but all I heard was about coming somewhere on ship to spend money.
Port Charleston was fine, but I wouldn't want to sail with Carnival again.