This was my 6th Carnival cruise and my husband's 15th. Embarkation was a nightmare because the ship was late getting back into port. But this was our 3rd cruise from New Orleans and the only time we have encountered this kind of problem. To Carnival's credit, it still left New Orleans on time and the boat drill was completed before our dinner - which was the 5:45 pm. The New Orleans port needs to add a parking garage where the current parking lot is.
Formal dining was good. We had Romeo (Monet) as our waiter and he was wonderful. We had more than we could eat and the quality was comparable to other Carnival cruises. We did not do The Point this trip...but I heard it was wonderful. We ate dinner in the formal dining room every night and were very pleased.
Our cabin was on the Riveria deck (6a) with a window in the front of the ship. I love the added room and the new lay out. It handled a family of 4 with no problem. (4 suitcases and 2 hanging bags) The movable shelves in the closet is great for when you have long dresses. And the drawers under the bunk bed were wonderful. Our room steward was MacKenzie. He is awesome!!!! We used the elevators 90% of the time and they worked fine handling that many people. We rode in the glass elevators only once or twice a day...because kids do keep them tied up. That isn't Carnival's fault if parents can't raise descent children.
Corey, Todd and Chris are remarkable. I can't imagine having their job. Bill at the Piano Bar had the place packed every night. He is awesome, awesome, awesome. Carol is such a talent in the Promonade. What a voice! The Country Duo in the Vincent's lounge wasn't to my taste. I found the female singer vulgar. The band in the Degas Lounge was wonderful! They had karaoke every night and every night it was packed!! The last night it was for 2 1/2 hours and they ran out of room and out of time for all the people. Most singers were very good and Todd and Chris were a hoot!!!!
We ate lunch on the Lido deck every day and found the selection great and very tasty!!! I don't do sushi so I can't comment on that. And I don't gamble so I can't rate the casino.
My 14 year old had a blast as did my 11 year old. Although a warning for anyone who has a child afraid of "characters"...they have a mascot who comes out dressed as a smoke stack. He is only out a couple of times and Charlie was kind enough to make sure our son wasn't bothered by him.
My hats off to John Piazza (orchesta leader) and Manny the sound guy. I sang in the Talent Contest and they were fabulous. They (and Todd) really took their time to make sure we were comfortable and well rehearsed. They made us feel like stars. Everyone (lights etc) did a great job.
I only saw one show (because I am not a show person) but the one I saw was impressive. The new laser lights and graphics were fun and the show was original. And the sound guy (Manny) danced in the sound booth all night. He is great! The entertainers did a wonderful job.
As with any cruise, there are always some negatives. I am not a smoker and this ship seemed to hold the smoke worse than others I have been on. If just one person was smoking in the Piano Bar or Karaoke Bar....the whole room permeated with the smell. I was hoping this new ship would have a better air filtration system. Many people left the Piano and Karaoke bar because they couldn't handle the smoke...and there were not many smoking. The Promonade was also extremely smoky. And seeing kids, way to young to be smoking, light up broke my heart. I lost my sister to lung cancer at the age of 52. The disco security did a fabulous job checking ids the few times I was in there.
And I would warn anyone who has a room on the Upper deck...there is one room right over the piano bar that will be noisy. We always stay up past 2am, so it would not bother us...but an older couple had it on our trip and they were very unhappy. There were also some unhappy people above the disco and Degas Lounge. Carnival needs to address these few noisy rooms and make sure the people booking these rooms are informed.
This ship did have more movement than I have noticed on other ships. But nothing we could not handle. Even with 12 foot seas one night...no one (but me) had to take any medication. I always take Bonine every morning just as a precaution. But I was never bothered at all. Our captain docked in Cozumel with a 40 knot wind...so my hat's off to him.
Overall... I would recommend this ship and cruise line to anyone...from 5 to 105. There was something for everyone. We booked this cruise right after 9/11, so we did not pay the holiday premium charge....because the cruise industry was still worried about filling the ships...so it was a very good deal for us. One of the reasons we go Carnival is because they give the best value for the dollar. This was our 3rd cruise this year and when you are taking a family of four....you look for the best value. Carnival has always delivered. But we are also seasoned travelers and mature enough to know that flexibility and a good attitude is the key. And we have plenty of both!!! Carnival even fixed my smoke problem....our next cruise....Paradise!!!!!!