This was the first cruise for my husband and I, so we have nothing to compare it to. It was disappointing, at best, though partly due to our own poor planning.
Embarkation at Baltimore was much easier than expected. Friends dropped us off and we were on the ship and in our room immediately (around 2:30). The room (balcony ocean view) was more spacious than we anticipated, with more than enough closet and drawer space for the two of us. Our cabin steward was very friendly and easily accessible.
Our first major problem became apparent early on, when we realized we were on a "spring break" cruise. At least half of the passengers were on college spring break. This is where our planning was poor, as we did not think about spring break ahead of time. Unfortunately, we had partying college kids in the cabins next to us and above us, so sleep was hard to come by. A call to security on the 3rd night did not do much.
The second major problem is that the weather was chilly and VERY windy all the way down to Florida. Even in Florida, the weather was warm, but overcast and windy -- gusts of 40-50 mph. The ship rocked for the entire trip. Veteran cruisers on the ship commented that this was the roughest trip they've ever had. The weather prevented us from taking advantage of any of the outside decks (and including the pools, mini golf, basketball, etc.) and even our balcony for the majority of the trip. Of course, everyone crowded into the one covered pool deck, so that chairs were not available unless you staked out a spot very early in the day. Furthermore, excursions were canceled due to the continued windy forecast (including snorkeling in Freeport -- they canceled the excursion the night before, and then the weather ended up being the calmest and nicest weather of all the days!).
The decor has been well-covered in other reviews. I'll just say: weird.
The entertainment left something to be desired. Three of the 4 comedians were hilarious and we attended almost every nightly show. The singing/dancing shows seemed downright silly. The casino was OK. We saw the big stage in Lido deck and assumed there would be some bands playing, but only DJs spun there. Some of the musicians in the lobbies were good, and Roger in the piano bar is excellent. All in all, we felt that most activities were either meant for a crowd younger (adult bean bag toss) or older (daily bingo) than us, or sounded great but cost extra (poker). The food varied from being mediocre, to having about 4 meals in the MDR that were fantastic. Of course, the warm melting chocolate cake was AMAZING! Fortunately, our servers were fantastic and kept us entertained every single night. Shout out to Oscar, Rohello (sp?) and Stefan! The chocolate buffet on day 6 was excellent, while the daily buffet offerings were hit or miss. Carnival Pride seems to do an excellent job with desserts.
Overall, we were disappointed with our first cruise. We may cruise again, but do it very differently -- cruise outside of spring break season, and fly to a warmer location to start out. My husband was thrilled to depart from Baltimore to avoid flying, but we both agree that the weather made this a poor choice. We will likely also choose a different cruise line -- the Carnival "fun ships" just didn't seem to be the right fit for us.