Embarkation: To my complete surprise -â€" and based on past experiences boarding a ship (this was my 11th cruise and 6th one on Carnival), the embarkation process was a breeze! My family and I arrived at the Ft Lauderdale port around 12:15 PM and the porters promptly picked up my luggage - both my carry on and big monster suitcase so I was literally "hands free" and ready to get on board. I at first hesitated to check in my carry on because that's where my soda, water and bottle of wine were in but off it went. The lines to go through security and registration IMO went fairly fast. I had my documents (passport, boarding pass and credit card) in my hand and was on the Lido deck having lunch around 1:00 PM. Reason I was so impressed was because I sailed on the Carnival Valor from Miami at Christmastime last year and it took over 2 Â½ hrs to get on board!
Cabin: Ocean view, mid-ship, Main deck. Great room attendant - thank you Kelvin; however, next time I'll try to figure out where the utility closet is on a ship before booking a cabin directly across it. Lots of noise very early in the morning; otherwise, it was easy to navigate this level because it went the length of the ship. Lots of storage space and, after unpacking, shoved the monster bag under the bed.
Entertainment: I love big production shows (OK I like hokey stuff). There were 3 big shows and I enjoyed each and every one of them. I did not go to any of the comedy shows so can't comment on the quality of the comedians. The Big Easy show based on New Orleans was absolutely great! The next show was a tribute to the Beatles -â€" very nicely done. Jump, Jive and Wail was the last show and I was taken out to dance by one of the dancers and it's a good thing I knew how to "swing"! Lots of fun..
Food: Posh DR 1st seating. There were 6 of us so we had the table to ourselves. I did originally ask for a larger table to enable us to meet new folks but, oh well. Here is where I encountered a bit of difficulty: it's been my experience that there is a senior waiter and an assistant waiter assigned to a certain number of tables. Our Sr waiter was frantically going from table to table taking orders, pouring the water, passing the rolls around. Our table generally placed the orders first and, to my consternation, were served last! What was with that? This happened on days 1 and 2 of the cruise, at which time I made a point of speaking to the maitre d' politely but firmly and told him I was not a happy passenger. Either assign more wait staff to our section of the dining room or move our party to another area. Our senior waiter was very nice but he definitely needed help. Am pleased to write that my complaint was taken seriously and there was a vast improvement in service the remainder of the cruise.
Overall food was good -â€" my filet mignon was absolutely perfect! Likewise the lobster and shrimp. No complaints about the food on the Lido deck also -â€" plentiful and fresh. Loved the deli and dessert bar.
Unexpected delight: My daughter and I "discovered" the Serenity deck! Well, it was there all the time but we weren't...LOL! What a peaceful area to relax in and read a book. There was also a bar area that to my surprise also had a couple of salads and sandwiches/wraps.... Kudos to Carnival for providing this adult only deck. I realize that there was another adult only area in back of the Lido where there were hot tubs and swimming pools but it was usually very crowded.
Ports: Love Key West -â€" like the Ernest Hemingway house; visited Grand Cayman last year so I just took a shuttle to the beach and basked in the sun. Ocho Rios, Jamaica -â€" interesting but don't think I care to return to this port.
Debarkation: Again, no problem. Found my luggage in the assigned area and went through customs fairly rapidly.
Overall service was outstanding. Will I sail Carnival again?? Of course -â€" I really want to go on either the Magic or Breeze next year so I'll start saving my $$ big time. Happy Holidays to all my fellow "sailors"!