If I could do two and a half stars, I would.
We decided to do a cruise, which was not something we had ever done before. We decided on this ship because it was well priced, out of NYC (which is where we live), recently refurbished, and Carnival has a good reputation as being a family friendly cruise line with great kids amenities.
The stewards and other staff were lovely. Very nice and friendly. The Bonsai Sushi Restaurant was very good and well priced. Lucky Bowl was a terrific lunch time option if you didn't mind eating soup for lunch when it was 90 degrees out. The lobster rolls were good at the seafood shack, but also had an additional up-charge. The fries were consistently excellent. Chris Williams (the cruise director) was a lot of fun. Puerto Rico was an excellent port and we had a terrific time there. The kids really enjoyed putting on their bathing suits and watching movies while in the pool on the Lido deck.
I was in one of the Port Hole rooms and one of the beds is obviously a sofa that is converted into a bed. It was very hard. My husband slept in the other bed which was far too soft for me. In room entertainment is very limited. Our snorkel excursion at Grand Turk was fine. Trivia contents we mostly esoteric and not real competitive trivia.
Honestly, where to begin? There were lines for everything. The ship is very poorly laid out and very cramped. They said the anytime dining and the set time dining had the same menus, but they did not. My kids (7/9/10) HATED the kids club. After the first day they referred to it as "baby jail" and refused to go. The reason for this cruise was the great amenities for kids. While they liked the water slides and the ropes course, that was about it. For a ship that was recently refurbished, it was very run down. Sewage smells in the hallways, the sprinkler head in our cabin was held on with duct tape, doors did not close, things had already fallen off the walls and elevators consistently did not work.
(in order of appreciation):
Bonsai Sushi (mentioned above) -- up-charge
Fahrenheit 555 -- up-charge. The Waygu beef was excellent, the lobster bisque excellent, and that was about it. It was as good as any third tier steakhouse. The service was OK.
Seafood Shack -- up-charge
Excellent lobster rolls and fries. The crab was meh. Avoid the oysters.
Lucky Bowl -- Included
VERY good, as long as you are okay with soup on a hot day.
Cucina de Capitano -- Up-charge.
Pretty consistent pasta place. Not sure why there needs to be more than a $5 up charge on this. Hit or miss at lunch (when it is free). Meat Lasagna was odd. Felt like it was made with brisket.
The Pizza place (I can not remember the name) - Included.
Sunrise Restaurant -- Included. VERY hit or miss. The service is slow. The waiters mostly didn't understand special requests and you would have to ask multiple times. The food went from absolutely awful (salmon my first night...sad shrimp cocktail) to delicious (my kids loved the pork chop. The chicken breast was very good). Avoid the fruit "soups". They taste like melted ice cream.
Brunch here was surprisingly good, however, and I highly recommend the brunch spaghetti. It was delicious.
Guys Burger Joint (burgers) -- Fine for burgers. Tastes like fast food, which is is.
Blue Iguana (Mexican) - Not great.
BBQ Place -- never tried.
Deli - (hit or miss)
Lido Marketplace - AWFUL. Badly laid out. No concept of line management. We did this as infrequently as possible, but it made all the other restaurants around it feel cramped and uninviting. The food was truly awful with the exception of the Indian buffet day for some reason.(I tried it that day as a joke and was pleasantly surprised).
I will not do a carnival cruise again. avoid.
Awful. Too crowded. Not child friendly. DON'T GET A CABANA! We got it because it was advertised as being air conditioned and it was supposed to get very hot and humid. You know what does not work well with AC? If you remove the giant doors from the cabana (you could see where the hinges once were) and then so that one whole side is open to the heat. Also, who doesn't provide towels with a cabana? Also, if I am going to pay $300+ for a cabana, do you think you could trust me to not take the key? They did not warn us that there would be a $20 deposit, so we did not bring any cash with us.