This was our 1st cruise - and thought it would be a nice one to try cruising on - short and not expensive! Traveled with our infant son and a few family members who had cruised before. Our expectations were a little high unfortunately. Check-in was very long - one line after another. We finally got on board and were looking forward to food but were VERY DISAPPOINTED by the Burrito Bar which had no guacamole or pico de gallo! I was also sort of grossed out by the dark meat they were passing off as chicken there. No thank you. Pizza line was so long and kept running out of pizza with one person working!The buffet was fine - about what you can expect.
Our cabin was clean and the crib requested was set up when we arrived. I knew from other reviews to bring my own fitted crib sheet b/c Carnival uses small, old metal cribs and flat sheets just tucked underneath the mattress. That really presents a hazard for a baby to get wrapped up in a loose sheet. I can't believe they still do that. They really need to move to 'pack and plays' instead with a fitted sheet.
Only my husband met our cabin steward. He never came and introduced himself to me or to our other guests which I hear is pretty rare.
The food in the Golden Dining Room was just okay but the service really was wonderful from the hostesses right through to the busboys. Everyone was so nice and remembered our names and played with our son throughout the meal. That was something I was impressed with. The only thing lacking was a Wine Menu and an offer for something to drink when you sat down. That service-person never seemed to get to everyone's table until after we had ordered our food. Other people around us said the same thing.
The first 2 days of the cruise - hard to get drinks on the upper parts of the deck for some reason. Then that changed and the waiters came around much more on the last 3 days - like someone told them to!
The pools were smaller than expected but the slide is lots of fun for all ages. The ship was not that easy to navigate and could not figure out if there was even one deck that went all the way around the ship. I still don't know! Deck 4 was always 'closed' for painting or for high winds... we just couldn't get out there when we wanted to. Our head waiter told us the ship will be redecorated in 2013 - it is really due. There was always an elevator not working or lights not on. The decor was really outdated.
The casino was lots of fun but previous reviewer is right - too many smoking sections! Waiters were great in the casino though.
Did not see any shows but watched some karaoke twice - looked like fun.
Did not book excursions through Carnival. Did resortforaday.com for Jamaica - Jewel Dunn's River Resort & Spa. It was well worth the $. The public beach on Grand Cayman was fine for our purposes but the beach itself is just okay - I expected it to be nicer. It was rocky to get into and had a big step-down. There was also a ton of seaweed. I'd guess the beaches in front of hotels are probably nicer so I wouldn't recommend the public beach right now. I would book an excursion in Grand Cayman next time.
Dinner at the Steakhouse was excellent. On par with most good steakhouses in NY. Disembarking was VERY disorganized. Not enough Carnival employees to keep people in line and to make sure you were getting off the ship at the right time. We had people who were supposed to exit in group 10 leaving with us in group 2. No one said a word to them. At one point, an employee told all the people coming off the elevators to cut the line (where we had been waiting for 20 mins already.) They literally said 'Just go already, just go.' I was pretty shocked at that - obviously no control over the situation! This could NOT have been the first time they let people off - they do this every week. I was really disappointed at that.
The transfers to/from the airport were great. Like I said, some good, some bad. Not sure I would go Carnival again though even though I was told by others that this particular ship/cruise was much worse than they have experienced on other Carnival cruises.