A few initial comments:
We went in with VERY LOW expectations. We were actually a bit worried. We have gone on 8-day cruises before, so the 5-day we were worried would be a booze cruise, we had heard Texas cruises may be a bit trashier (we are originally from Texas), we knew the ship was old, Carnival food standards are dropping, etc.
Well the worry was for nothing. THIS WAS PROBABLY OUR BEST CRUISE YET. It was absolutely fabulous.
To address the concerns: This was not a booze cruise. We noticed no difference in the behavior of people from 8-days. People did drink and have fun, but it wasn't a drunk ship. As with all of our cruises we assume the kids are downstairs rowing the ship, because we didn't see many but heard there were 700 or so.
We did notice almost everyone was from the South. Very few non-"home port" cruisers. We met no one from New England or the Midwest, one couple from Colorado. Many people around the ship would yell to us "Hey! Iowa!" because it was that unique. However, it was not a trashy redneck cruise. It was probably the friendliest cruise we've been on (which the south is known for). There were lots of casual clothes and tattoos (though oddly in the comedy club the comedian couldn't find enough people with them to do his joke about them) but no trashy behavior.
The old ship wasn't really a problem. It seemed the same as all the other. Our sink had a crack in it, and the water ran hot/cold a bit, but there was no apparent wear and tear that made a difference. The decor was Carnival style, but fine. The dining room in the middle is stupid, but same as the Freedom, so we knew the way around. We didn't spend much time on the Lido, but never found the lines to be overwhelming.
Carnival food: well, I'm not sure. I often couldn't find anything I wanted to eat, but enjoyed the Indian Vegetarian most nights- on our last cruise when that happened, I just ate vegetables. I would say that the food remains good banquet food- in our cruising time, it was never gourmet. We did the Chef's table, and it was a phenomenal experience (and I don't drink), well worth the price. The biggest disappointment of the cruise was that there was never any Creme Brulee (or escargot or Tom Kai Guy). Oh, and that we weren't able to get room service to pick up the phone, so we never got that.
The entertainment staff was great, the ports were wonderful- if you can, I would highly recommend Triumph 5-day out of Galveston. I really did not expect to come back raving.
Carnival Freedom- Eastern Carribean 01/01/11
Carnival Triumph- Progesso/Cozumel 4/14/12
Celebrity Xpedition- Galapagos 9/28/14
Carnival Magic- Western Carribean 09/20/15