I chose this cruise for the itinerary, not the ship, and was not expecting much based on previous Carnival cruises. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. The ship was very nice and also appeared well cleaned. Public areas are nicely layed out and the ship never seemed crowded. Service was excellent throughout. Shows were better than expected. Our balcony room was large and comfortable. The decor of the ship is hideously gawdy and ugly, but that doesn't really matter to me. It was still a great ship. Even the staff were laughing at how cheap and gawdy the decor is. The food was not horrible, but not good either. Some things were not edible and a few things were actually good. Everything else, was just okay... not good enough to brag about, but not bad enough to ruin the cruise either. It was served by excellent staff throughout the ship, so no complaints there. The 24 hour pizza is actually excellent. We had some nice surprises...the Captain took an unexpected route through the Greenland Fjords and that was the highlight of the trip. The ship also gave us all post cards and then sent a lifeboat carrying the cruise director out to a remote post office to mail them from the northern most post office in the world. Both things were a very nice extra and I was very impressed by Carnival. This is the first Carnival ship to have "Anytime dining" and I have to say I don't like that at all. We prefer to eat alone and asked for a table for two, which we were not given. They told us our only option was eat at 8:15 or go to anytime dining. We chose the Anytime and it turns out that what it means is waiting about 20 minutes in line every night and then either eating with a large group, or waiting an additional 20-45 minutes for a private table.
Embarkation at Dover was the best I've ever experienced. Debarkation in New York was the worst. They practically begged everyone to use the self assist debarkation, which almost everyone did, but then they didn't coordinate the exit. Everyone was crammed into several places on the ship with their luggage and no real organized plan to release them, so it became a bit hostile with no real direction on when each area could go. People were getting angry and frustrated and no one seemed to know what the plan was. Eventually, everyone just crowded towards the exit point, which became kind of a crazy mess. I would just like them to coordinate that a little better and maybe keep people informed. To sum up...Overall review: Great cruise, Very nice ship, Great service and staff, mediocre food, bad debarkation.
Balcony Ocean Suite- Excellent room. Large and well layed out. Has extra dressing area outside bathroom, with vanity and mirror. Bathroom has marble counters and double sinks and plenty of shelf space. Shower stall was large with excellent water pressure and plenty of shelf space. More closets and drawers than we could use. Balcony was large. Only question is whether it was worth the extra money to upgrade from a regular balcony room. I think the only thing you get for the money is a tub, which we never use anyway, so I don't think I would pay the extra again.