Good: I've been on 3 crusies with Carnival so I don't have the "first time" perspective which are sometimes overly positive. First, We had 4200+ people on this boat and you wouldn't have known it except for the main elevators during safety drill and embarking. Other than that debarking and embarking is GREAT. No lines they have their system down.
Dave at Sam's Piano Bar was Awesome! We had so much fun there singing and listening to his stories. He had instruments that he let us play and the bar looks like a piano. The bartender was also very nice and even made me a special drink b'c he couldn't remember the drink of the day and charged me the same price. The Asian girl that sings at the piano in the Atrium is very good as well. Adult Comedy Shows were funny. Get there early!
I, too liked the Indian and Pasta Bars. Just like everyone else who reads Cruise Critic, we went to the Pasta Bar when we first boarded. The hamburger and pizza bar were good as well. Had entirely too much Margerita Pizza! De Chevre pizza was great too. Sushi Bar was on point as well.
Ate breakfast in the dining room which was really good, had Eggs Benedict. Most often ate at Omelet Station towards back of boat.
We had an Aft Balcony and absolutely loved it. Our neighbors on one side were elderly and rarely went out on their balcony and the others were newlyweds and we were very respectful of each other's time. We were on 6th floor and it was weird to see people walking on the deck below but most often at night it was empty. I always looked up to see if anyone was looking at me and they never were. I went out on the balcony in my robe quite often in the evening.
Gym was Great and everyone polite. Something about running three miles while looking out at the ocean. I was a little disappointed there wasn't Zumba as I would've paid extra for it.
Stayed mostly in Adult Serenity area but there was not a lot of shade mid day and you have to get there pretty early to get your spot.
Lastly, we were not overrun with children. There were a couple that were running around here and there and I could imagine the chaos if there were more. This is why I purposefully go when the kiddos are back to school!
We loved watching football on the big screen television with lots of other football fans when the pools were closing and others were at dinner.
Cozumel was great for shopping, Fat Tuesdays and Three Amigos. Went ziplining with Pirates of the Caribbean Canopy Tours in Roatan(booked online on board ship before we departed my network)and we did the beach day as well at a very nice and quite resort for just $20 extra. The driver allowed me to hang out the van window and take pics and gave us the background info and showed us several things. The ziplining crew was great and made sure we had fun. We did the Extremely Extreme and there wasn't anyone else behind us or in front of us. Costa Maya was all Senior Frog's. Enough said plus we were only there until 2:30pm. Although, they had dolphins shows you could watch for free. Belize.... The shopping was great and a little different than the other ports. But I think we messed up when we went to Wet Lizard. It had potential to be a great place, however, it was Belize's Independence Day AND the Carnival Legend was there as well so very few places were open and the ones open were packed and was hot. There was another place at the very end of the pier that I saw when we were leaving that seemed like it wouldve been better. IF YOU EXPECT TO DO ANYTHING BUT EAT, DRINK, OR SHOP in ANY of these ports, you will be sadly disappointed. These ports are OWNED/RENTED whatever... by Carnival and they make sure only the stores they want you to shop at are available. If you want to shop elsewhere, you will have to get a taxi and get out of the Port Area. If you actually want to experience the culture and really see the country you have to do an excursion which are much cheaper if you research and book outside of Carnival.
Bad: There is an odor. It is not a consistent stench by no means but it truly smells like you are sometimes walking by a sewer. Most often we smelled in the hallway on our floor. It did become a joke to us after a little while.
Staff: Most of them really were not happy. This was the first time we chose Anytime Dining and it took the third day to find a really good server. Her name is Nataljia from Ukraine or something. She and her team, Glory and Alksander were terrific. They took time to talk about their experiences, answered questions about the food, and provided us with whatever we wanted without making it seem like we were inconveniencing them. Again, the bartender at Sam's was great. There is an Asian guy who does the Karoake in the Latin Club across from Sam's. Wasn't very impressed with my cabin steward and her staff. They weren't bad but they didn't stand out.
The only other Sports Bar on the boat that you can actually hear the game is in the Casino and it is little. The outside pool bars have the TV's on but the area is loud and you can't hear anything. On Saturday, if you're like us and wanted to watch the games... go straight there and stay. The waitresses are nice as well.
Let me forewarn everyone that YOU HAVE TO PUT YOUR ONE BOTTLE OF WINE IN YOUR CARRY ON!!! Take it out of your suitcase at the airport and put it in your carry on. Most people left it in their suitcase and it was confiscated. Mine was confiscated as about half the cruisers!! They had so many irons, bottles of liquor and wine! Do NOT try to sneak anything on. The screeners are in full operation mode!
Because there are so many people, the clean up crews around the buffet tables can be a little overzealous. We left a plate of food to grab a drink it was gone when we got back. The hamburger bar had closed but they fixed another one.
Don't go to the shopping talk! I wish I could get those 3 hours back. Yes, I said 3 hours! I thought I would get all the little free charms from all the ports but it was only a trick to get you in these very expensive stores so they can get you to buy something. Waste of my time!
Honestly, the worst part of this trip was the rental car experience because with so many cruise ships that go in and out they get very crowded with folks dropping off cars and getting cars.
In all, I felt the cruise was better than I expected from reading the reviews. You do have to figure out the layout as there are only a couple of decks that you can walk all the way across the boat without having to go up and down. That's what we did. Kept us out of elevator traffic as well. No vacation is perfect and no experience is perfect. Your vacation is what you make it and what you allow it to become. If little things upset you then have a drink and relax... if they didn't take it out of your luggage! :D