About us: Australians on a month-long European tour, two teenage daughters along for the ride.
The ship: Big, glitzy and new. Reminded me of a gaudy theme park but it still had it's own unique charm. Despite the huge number of passengers it rarely
seemed crowded, at least in the places we frequented. The hideous decor was a bit of a shock for us after spending 4 days in stylish and beautiful Barcelona. The rooms were good but nothing special even though we chose a Spa cabin.
Fellow passengers: Mostly Americans, but a mix of other nationalities as well - Spanish, British, Australians, Japanese. Like any American cruise there was a small percentage of passengers who acted like they wished they were still at home - complaining about having to use Euros, scared of using public transport, problems with foreign food, etc - but these were in the minority. Very few children on this cruise (i.e. almost none). Plenty of people got dressed up for the formal night but it wasn't over the top. Most people dressed tidy but casual.
Ports: Good selection with plenty of time in each port to cater for those of us whose primary goal was to see as much of Europe as possible. Shore excursions are expensive but we chose to make our own arrangements for every stop except Messina. On a couple of occasions our shore itineraries were virtually identical to the ship's tours, but we paid less than half price to do the same things. The one tour we did do (Mt Etna) was good but not great.
Entertainment: Didn't actually attend any shows myself but from the reports I heard they were pretty poor. Daily activities (trivia, etc) were fun but apart from the guy playing electric guitar in the Red Frog Pub the music was pretty woeful. Evening movies on the big screen at the pool were great fun with free popcorn and blankets provided to protect against the chilly evening ocean breeze.
Staff: Guest services were OK but seemed to be operating to a script rather than trying to help you. On the other hand the cabin and dining room staff were superb and made our trip (big hello to Michael, George, Jurie and Gede). Entertainment staff were relaxed and friendly and never pushy or over the top.
Food: Dinners were very good (chocolate melting cake...mmmm). Breakfast and lunch were OK (but what's with the inedible whipped cream?). Free pizza, ice-cream and frozen yoghurt all day was awesome. Drink prices were horrendous but this is typical for cruise ships.
Overall this was a great cruise. It's not an old style, elegant cruise experience. This is a "funship". Relaxed with a few rough edges and you do get the feeling sometimes that Carnival are more interested in making money than anything else, but great fun just the same. When we spotted the Carnival Magic in port in Venice a week or so after our cruise it was like seeing an old friend.