This ship was by far the best Carnival ship I've sailed (been on Ecstasy and Elation a couple of times each and the very first Carnival ship, the Mardi Gras)and a whole lot better than Holland America Westerdam in late November. Carnival has a reputation for FUN and they sure lived up to it! I went on this cruise with my 87-year-old mom (had sailed in late Nov. with hubby, so left him home..lol) and we both had a ball.
First of all, leaving out of New Orleans was as expected: traffic was horrible, no rhyme or reason getting into the cruise terminal, just chaos. I'm a native New Orleanian and am used to this so didn't come as a surprise to me but those from other places were probably dumbfounded at the lack of organization. We were in a flat-rate cab, so long waits weren't a problem for us, but those on a meter probably had mucho stress. Once inside the terminal, everything went very smoothly.
Entered the ship right at noon and IT IS GORGEOUS! Filled with Impressionist paintings and murals, very well laid-out, lots of elevators. We found it very easy to get our bearings right away. We had an interior cabin and it was great...lots of space and storage for 2 women getting dressed at the same time!
Food is really, really good. We had prime rib two nights out of the 7 and it was great each time. Only had a so-so meal one night in dining room. Buffets
on Lido Deck were really good. Very large selection (and I'm kinda picky) and everything was well-prepared and well-seasoned (a very welcome circumstance after the dismal Westerdam food a month earlier). Don't miss the steakhouse! It is even better than dining at Ruth's Chris Steak House. Had the beef carpaccio, filet mignon, and cheese cake and was stuffed when we finished. Only wish I had made reservations for 2 nights instead of one. Price of $30/pp is unbelievable considering the quality of the food.
Drinks are plentiful and a little over-priced (I think) but then I don't go clubbing so am not really up to speed on this.
Don't miss "Voila Paris" show...stunning. The other variety show "Point and Click" was really not worth seeing. Lady Hellevi was good...just be sure to sit in the balcony where you can see the tricks...you miss too much on the first floor if someone with a big head sits in front of you.
Lots of great things happening like a Mardi Gras parade and snow in the atrium.
Only bad part of the trip was debarkation...almost as bad as trying to get into the cruise terminal. I was accustomed to the program that takes your bags the night before and sends them straight through to the airline, so you don't mess with them again until you get home. Unfortunately, that wasn't offered on this ship. Took the bags the night before, but you still had to claim them and take them through Customs. I had a hard time with this because I was dealing with my bags and my mom's with no help. Maybe New Orleans doesn't offer this. Have had it every time out of Ft. Lauderdale. We were in Zone 2 to depart because of my early flight, so basically only people ahead of us were the self-assisted passengers. They didn't get in line when called, however, so when we were called, there was an awful traffic jam with them being allowed to go ahead of us...my feeling is: self-assist passengers, if you don't get in line when you are first called, then shame on you and you should have to wait your turn in line with everyone else. Of course, the same awful traffic outside, but I was on the Carnival transfer bus to airport, so no problem. Would do this cruise again in a heartbeat!