The ship itself is very dated and tacky. The Promenade-Galleria area is 1980's neon and black and many of the bars and discos were small and ugly. Our ocean-view room, though, was neutral, and a decent size.
The Carnivale dining room is downright ugly; however, the food was pretty good. We never had a "bad" meal. Our waiter was friendly and very attentive, but the food service was slow. We would get to the dining room at 6:00 and left at 7:30 - 7:45. One night we left as the 8:00 diners were entering! We would wait about 15 minutes between each salad, appetizer and main course. What I absolutely hated was the Maitre d'. When we finally got our main entree, he would get on the microphone and sing annoying songs, and demand that everyone get up and dance and wave their napkins. It probably wouldn't have been as annoying if he would have done that during the appetizer or salad serving. We would finally get our main entree, we would start to eat and enjoy it, and then all this noise and loud singing would erupt. It was very difficult to enjoy diner time with the family.
The two days at sea were great. We never had a problem finding lounge chairs around the pool area for the 6 of us. Bar service around the pool was slow, but I have found this to be true on every cruise I have ever taken. The "pool games" were funny to watch, and there was usually something going on in the afternoon that we attended.
The Brasserie buffet dining area on the pool deck was pretty good, too, though the decor is hideous. It looks like a bad science fiction movie set. There is a pizza station, Deli station, a Chinese Wok station and burger/hot dog station. I loved the Deli area where two cooks make deli sandwiches to order. You can get cold sandwiches or paninis. The Chinese wok area and the burger/hot dog area were always really crowded, so we did not eat there.
There were two comedians that preformed in the evenings in the Candlelight Lounge. One guy was really horrible and the other guy was pretty funny. But, they didn't start until 10:00pm and then their set was only 30 minutes long.
We went to the casino a couple of times, but didn't stay long because of the cigarette smoke. A few video poker machines are "smoke free," but smoking is allowed at all the table games. Yuck!
One thing that I found extremely bizarre that I have never seen before on other cruise lines is that people can carry on cases of soda and bottles of alcohol on embarkation day. It is really tacking standing in line with people all around you carrying cases of soda and holding bottles of wine. It was almost like people were going camping!! I guess Carnival is considered a budget cruise line, and those are the type of people that would be attracted to that.
Overall we had a nice time celebrating my boyfriend's parents' 50th anniversary. One nice touch is you can order anniversary/birthday cake for less than 10 dollars, and they bring it to you at dinner. It was a really nice touch, and the cake was pretty good, too.