This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. We were really surprised at the number of children on this cruise. We were told that of the almost 3,000 passengers on board, 800 were children. We recommend getting to the ship by 1200. Check-in really is a breeze. The cost of parking is about $75. Before you park, drop your bags off and have them delivered to your cabin. When you return from parking, have your passport ready. Expect 15-20 minutes to get through security and checked in. We also recommend bringing as many cases of water on board as you can carry. We didn't know they would let us, but we wished we had.
Once you're on board and settled, take a tour around the ship. This is not a huge ship, but one can get lost often enough. Shortly after sailing, you'll have to go through the muster drill. This too is very simply and Carnival does this drill by zones. Once the drill is complete, consider attending the Camp Carnival introduction. This is a free day care service which our daughter actually had fun participating in. They offered a list of daily activities and again, our little really enjoyed this.
The food was not so great, but good enough for a cruise. Carnival does not offer open seating which we prefer, but we were lucky enough to sit with a very nice family. I'm not sure why, but Carnival did not have a lot to offer in the form of entertainment. Besides one really good show at the end of our cruise, there really was nothing offered. I mean outside of "Hair Chest" competition, gender wars, music trivia, etc. NCL & RCCL offer great shows.
Overall, we would do it again. We didn't expect to be this happy with this cruise, but we were. On a scale of 1-10, we give this cruise a 7.5.