We departed from New Orleans. Embarkation was a real hassle. It gets a little worse each time I sail from New Orleans (6th time). The check-in person lost our credit card information and we had to stand in line the first day out to do it over again.
The ship's design is somewhat of a problem. Important public decks have nonpublic areas that split the public areas, without cross access fore to aft, so you have to go up/down one or more decks and then go over. There seems to be a shortage of elevators and public restrooms. The Lido deck (deck 9) has a smallish covered area on either side, and is cut-off going aft to fore, by an upswept transition from decks 9 to 10, which was used for a large number of chaise lounge chairs. I've never been on a cruise ship with this strange arrangement to the Lido deck. The covered areas tables were always, always taken. I hope its a feature that does not take hold on other ships.
The decor of the ship is garish and a little weird, bordering on the ugly. Dark colors predominate. The glass elevators in the atrium have smoked glass, all of which made a problem for my visually impaired mother.
Our balcony cabin was great, however. The lighting was great, and the overall feel was really nice. Our cabin compared very favorably to the Norweigan Spirit out of New Orleans, which was a nicer ship, all-in-all, but not as to cabins.
We always avoided eating at the Lido restaurant, with the exception of the Hong Kong Noodle Company, which was great. The dining room was great. We had a pretty bad table, but that's life. Our waiters were wonderful. The food was very very nice.
I'm not much on production shows, but they were OK, a little loud on one show. The commedy show was fantastic. The house band was very professional. They had a detachment that did some serious jazz performances on two occasions, which was nice. Its not easy to find real jazz on a cruise...who wudda thunk you'd find it with Carnival? There was also a great Latin band that did salsa, merengue etc. It was a real nice touch.
Some of the lounges allowed smoking. The cigar bar, where the Latin band seemed to play, almost requires use of a gas mask (and I smoke an occasional cigar). The sports bar was even worse. I lot of my fellow New Orleaneans were angry that they could not follow the Saints while at sea.
The gym was very nice, although it opened about 15 minutes late one morning. Things like this seem to happen on Carnival more than on other lines.
We took the Conch train tour, which was very nice. The town is picturesque and the weather was great.
One thing that could be improved was the disembarkation and assembly for tours. It was a complete mess with nobody really in charge.
Freeport seems to have been hit by a bad hurricane in the not-too-distant past. We took the all-day beach resort excursion at the Wyndham Fortuna Beach. It was too cold to swim at the beach. The pool was really clean. Food was ho-hum. The free drinks and beer (Kalik) were great.
We took a bus tour, which was OK. The area was crowded, as there were three ships in port. We ended at the Straw Market and walked the short way back to the ship. On the way there, we hit a nice shop where we had some Kalik beers and a Cuban cigar. Very nice.