My husband and I are in our late 40s and we drove to Port Canaveral from our home in NC. This was our first cruise and we chose this one because we felt it was the "Wal-Mart" of cruises ~ cheap with low expectations. Having heard so many stories (good and bad), we thought there might be chance that we would take the "24 hour guarantee" but luckily we didn't. It didn't take long for us to realize that we were unfair to Carnival by calling this a "wal-mart" cruise. We had a great time and will go again next year!
We chose mid-Dec. to cruise to avoid the expensive holiday rates and the k-12 kids which worked out great; I can count on one hand how many children we saw. Unfortunately, we didn't consider the college crowd! All the colleges were out that week and the ship was full of students blowing off Fall semester steam. We didn't mind, they were funny and thoroughly enjoyed all the Lido deck parties. :)
We had a room on deck 11 which we quickly figured out was the best place to be on this ship. Considering the ship only had 12 decks, we saw how cram packed the lower decks were. Even though we were on the same deck as the Lido (party) deck, our room was amazingly sound proof. On our balcony we could hear the music loud and clear but inside the cabin it was dead silence ~ we didn't even hear the guests in the rooms on either side of ours.
Great first time cruise. Everyone we worked with on Carnival from pre-boarding to the final walk-off were awesome.
At Little Stirrup Cay/Key (a.k.a. Coco Cay) we rented a tiki umbrella for the day on the quiet side of the island. For $49 buck (for 2), you get 2 giant bottles of water, a bottle of champagne, chips n' salsa, and 2 chaise lounges. It was so far from all the "party" spots and you can walk out 300 yards to see the stingrays with the water only rising to your knees. It was the most relaxing and peaceful day of our trip.