My father booked this cruise for my two sisters and me to join him over Thanksgiving. We were without our families so the trip was just us for the first time in many years. That aspect of it was really great. My father and one sister had been on several cruises, but one sister and I were newbies.
First, the ship itself is amazing. Maybe too big for it's own good, but I was impressed. Our balcony cabin was more than adequate. Two twin beds, a sofa, and a bathroom (with a shower) that was fine. My sister LOVED the shower. Our steward, Augustina, took very good care of us and my father certainly put him through his paces. Our rooms (not connected, disappointingly) are at the front of the ship and that was a lot of fun. I was told by many that I would hardly know I was on a ship, but that was not true. Sailing was rocky several days and VERY rocky two nights.
I found most of the entertainment to be fun though the "comic juggler" was more than disappointing. I most enjoyed the Close Up Magic. While the illusions in the Destination Unknown show are unimpressive, the show itself is spectacular - visually entertaining. Another show with a guy named Marcus something or other was slow and boring. The comedians seemed to rely to heavily on stereotypes, but there were some good laughs.
The service was mostly quite good. In the Southern Lights upper dining room, we all felt the hostess, Elizabeth, was particularly attentive and like the maitre d, Igor. Our food was mostly average or below average though the lobster stands out as particularly good as were many of the appetizers. I found the soups to be quite good and tried as many as I could. My dad and sister who had been on several cruises felt the food was below average and were disappointed. Some of the options were simply to difficult to try due to long lines and limiting hours of operation. I never got a chance to have sushi at the sushi bar. The Red Frog pub is nice, but our server was not efficient though we had heard they were fantastic there. I didn't mind paying $3.33 for the pub snacks.
Now: The Lido Deck. It's all happening here judging by the crowds. We enjoyed people watching and some of the activities, but it IS CROWDED. The pools were very cold and the hot tubs were just barely warm. Some were closed for a day at a time. The Lido Marketplace is severely over-crowded with little to no service assistance. I wanted to try things and enjoy it, I just didn't - the lines were far too long and service poor to awful.
The cruise director, James, was only interested in making announcements and selling things. I resent that. I already bought a cruise and I spent plenty of money on the ship - stop "milking" me already!
The Serenity Deck is very nice and it was great to be in an adults-only area.
My worst experience was in the spa. I had booked two spa treatments online. The first, a pedicure, was nice, but not worth the money. The second was a true "splurge" for me as I am on a tight budget (school teacher with two kids in college). I booked a 75 minute massage. The therapist came to get me late and began late. She stopped 55 minutes later after spending only about 35 minutes on the massage and 20 arranging hot stones. I questioned the timing and she argued. When I reminded her she started late, she agreed and tried to massage my head for 10 more minutes. It was awful. I left very upset. The did give me a 25 minute massage the next day and it was fine, but definitely not what I had booked and paid for. The receptionist was exceptionally kind and helpful. I wish I knew her name so I could thank her.
The ports were fun. We did not book excursions but rather figured out things to do/see on our own and from what I heard probably made a good decision there.
Overall, the cruise was enjoyable, but Carnival did NOT live up to all the wonderful things I've heard. I will probably book my next cruise on a different line. At Nassau, a Disney ship docked next to us and looked like a fun ship.