We chose this cruise because it matched our tight schedule and small-ish budget. I've sailed on Carnival before so I knew what to expect, however this cruise still didn't meet my limited expectations. Here's a pro/con list:
-Value (if you didn't pay for ANY extras which were pushed constantly)
-All of the staff were great!
-The ports were fun (Roatan and Cozumel). We didn't pay Carnival for excursions, we got a taxi and explored. Cost about a quarter of what the cruise line charges and there were no crowds or waiting in line.
-Guy's Burger Joint is SUPER delicious
-The taco stand is not bad
-My 6 year old loved the slides
-Breakfast delivered to your room in the morning. Just old pastries and cereal but at least the coffee was hot.
-The amount of "down time" on board was far more than I expected. We are a young family with 2 kids (ages 6 and 4) and there was literally nothing to do together except eat meals and try to "swim" in the incredibly packed swimming pool. I feel there was a huge lack of activities if you're not interested in gambling, drinking, and paying extra for baby-sitting to go to the night-clubs which didn't open until 10pm.
-Camp Ocean, which provides childcare at certain times during the cruise, was pretty blah. Yeah, you can drop off your kids sometimes. But Carnival makes it sound like it's going to be super exciting with adventurous activities. In reality they just did a LOT of coloring and watching movies.
-The kids' dinner menu was pretty limited and even my 6 year old ended up eating mostly off of the adult menu because it was so blah. The chicken nuggets were exactly like McDonald's. Not terrible but certainly nothing fun or special. Same for kids' desserts. Basically just a bowl of melted ice cream.
-The adult dining menu was also very limited. There was either exotic items like braised rabbit or plain grilled chicken breast that you can make at home. Not much in between. So for those expecting an upscale steak or seafood option, again you're paying more ($20 fee).
-Disappointing 24-hour pizza and ice cream. The kids were super excited about these things. Pizza and ice cream anytime you want!! It's really hard to mess up pizza! We tried each exactly one time. The pizza had razor thin crust, tomato skins in the sauce and a tiny bit of cheese. The "ice cream" was bland soft-serve frozen yogurt-type stuff. No toppings or anything. Again, not disgusting just...sad.
-The buffet was either packed at mealtimes or closed in between (except for the sad pizza). No place to get snacks for the kids in the afternoon around 3 o'clock when everyone gets hungry. There was a plate of fruit left out so we ate that most days. So many apples in 5 days! Buffet was closed almost every time we tried to eat there.
-The shows were ok but there wasn't nearly enough entertainment. Our evenings left us "all dressed up with no place to go!" Again, after dinner if you're not going to gamble or stay up for the 10 o'clock opening of the night-clubs, you're sort of left wandering the ship. Which is fine for a night or two but after that it was frustrating having to scrounge for something to do. We'd drop off the kids after dinner and then be like...ok now what? There's a 20 minute comedy act and then...nothing at all. The afternoons were even worse. Like, a game of "Friends" trivia at 230 and then...nothing until dinner. Lots of empty time on our hands.
There were a few things that were beyond Carnival's control that I'm not including like: delaying departure for an hour due to a lost passenger, diverting to Mexico for a medical emergency (which cancelled a lot of people's shore excursions for the next day), and disembarkation taking 5 hours because of a late arrival due to rough seas and a strong headwind on the way back. It was a mess but not the cruise line's fault.
Anyway, I'm not going to do Carnival again. This year our budget and schedules really limited our choices. Our next big vacation I will just save for an extra 6 months and take a Disney Cruise.
Super comfy bed but (of course) very cramped. Two adults and two little kids was really pushing the capacity. We had a queen bed with two bunk beds: one over our heads and one over our feet. Literally no place to sit, had to lay down if you were in the cabin.