We all had a real good time!
SHIP was very glitzy - reminded me of old Vegas - small and big at the same time. Stairs get you there faster than sometimes waiting for an elevator (atrium elevators not working the whole cruise), but hubby kept forgetting what floor was something and we climb several flights. We finally learned to stay on our room's MAIN DECK and walk the length of the ship to get to an elevator bank closer to what we needed - no galley in the way! We also learned to step over all the time because a lot of doorways had a lip - the kids have each tripped at least once.
ROOM I was scared a mere 160 some odd square feet would not cut it for a family of 5 used to spreading in big Vegas hotel rooms. Not only was it roomy enough (I had to be vigilant about keeping laundry off floor, shoes in closet, desk clutter organized, etc), but there was a bed for each one of us. Hubby and I were even tickled of the idea that we both had our own beds, too. As soon as we got on the ship, we dropped stuff in the room and planned to get some lunch. All the kids WANTED to take a nap because they were so excited about the beds! Our two oldest have bunks at home, but now the lower kid got an upper. Our littlest was in a trundle and loved his "little" bed, too! He was next to dad and under a brother, so he had fun playing.
KIDS had TONS of fun with Camp Carnival and the Night Owl Party. I love all the free gear and toys they got to remember the cruise and personalize their bunks in our room. Our oldest is a moody drama queen, so he didn't always have fun. We brought walkie talkies and let him have one night in the room while hubby and I had dinner. He was thrilled to watch THOR on tv and order room service. He even had a nice chat with our steward Anel (faboo guy) as our son asked many questions about the ship. I think he liked playing King for the night, room service, movie, and calling the steward to take away his dinner and clean the crumbs out of his bed. The kid is 9!
EXCURSION The boys enjoyed Catalina Island, the semi-submersible, the Del Sol color changing gear shop (boys got $10/day for vacation money), and a nearby playground. After a mere 3 hours, they wanted back on the ship! Hubby and I took a TASTE excursion in Ensenada while kids stayed on the ship. I think we were gone a total of 5 hours. They were happily occupied, we learned, ate, and shopped.
FOOD The kids favorite restaurant was the Lido Grill and Paris Restaurant. They liked picking their own meals and quantity. We were with them at every meal and made sure they had good choices as well as...not so good. Hubby and I ate at the late seating in Destiny. We did have a DAY AT SEA lunch in Elation, and I thought it was a much prettier and understated, while Destiny looked like it had alien spaceships hanging from the ceiling. The food in the dining rooms was superb. Everything either tasted great, or gave me to try something I've never had and may not ever again. Since the boys always wanted buffet, hubby and I were happy to dine quietly alone at our big table. I love sushi, and it was an appetizer option for our last dinner. There were only 3 pieces, so I asked if I could get a double order...I had already eaten 12 pieces 2 hours earlier at the sushi bar! The best part for me is the timing of our meals. I'm a slow eater. I like to taste and enjoy my food. I dislike it when I'm eating soup/salad and my entree arrives. My entree will get cold, or I abandon my starter, etc. On the ship, in the dining room, we never moved on until both husband and I were ready.
DIDN'T LIKE or DISAPPOINTED The comedians weren't funny. They were vulgar and cussing because they could during a late show, not because it helped the jokes. I am not "easily offended" or a "fan of Justin Bieber" as the disclaimer was announced, but I like funny. One comedian spent 1/2 the time speaking with some noisy drinkers on the other side of the room from us. We could only hear the comedians side of the conversation, and that's all it was.
The cruise was our first, but also a celebration of our recent 13 year anniversary, and my husband's upcoming birthday. Both were noted in our cruise registration. Neither was mentioned on the cruise by any staff at all.
At Camp Carnival, my oldest son, Mr Moody, did not want to dance during a party. He was told he had to participate. He reminded the counselor that I had spoken during sign in and assured that it was ok with me if he didn't feel like dancing, he could sit off to the side. My son says the counselor threatened to call us and state that he was not behaving. My children do not drink soda (the carbonation burns their mouth, as we adults are used to the feeling), and at an event soda or water was offered. The other children in the group were surprised when it was announced to the whole group that my kids would be the only not allowed to have soda, and then later teased my boys.
During our DAY AT SEA lunch in Elation, a magician came to our table. He said there would be a show for kids later in Camp. While in the library playing UNO (I brought) with my kids and other kids from Camp, I mentioned to them and their dad about the magic show. An older lady overheard us and inquired. I said it was for kids only. I enjoy trivia contests and bingo, but I don't care for the "shows". I think a Magic Show in the main lounge/theater one night would be great!
We had a late seating because that was all that was left. It turned out it conflicted a lot with the daily schedule of what hubby, I, or the family wanted to see/do.
I was told there was laser tag on all ships and it would be mentioned in the FUN TIMES. It wasn't. We didn't find anyone that knew about it.
My oldest son got a steam burn on his arm while reaching far back in a buffet station. After he came crying to us, my husband spoke with the nearest staff in the restaurant and told him about the burn. The staff member had a scared look on his face, looked around the room, mumbled something about Murray, and then walked away. I used some ice, then the neosporin & band-aids that most moms carry.
There was a spring 2012 cruise I wanted to inquiry and hoped booking while on a cruise might get me a deal or offers. At guest services I was told they do not book while on this cruise. Major disappointment. When I got home, the price had gone up.
Did we have a good time? Yes. Did we have a great time? No. Would we ever cruise again? Yes. Would we ever cruise Carnival again? Probably...the good did outweigh the bad.
p.s Anel was a great steward and Sam was a great show host...I won a medal at movie trivia and the boys beat a lot of adults at cartoon trivia...they even remembered The Banana Splits!