Deck 8 is the same deck as Central Park. Best to have a cabin closer to an elevator if possible. Location was quiet because it was a long ways down the hallway from either elevator lobby. It just makes things a little easier. Forward is closer to the entertainment venues and kids club, aft is closer to the sports courts, Flow Rider and dining. Cabin itself did not come with the concierge amenities so if you really need special seating at the shows and help with last minute reservations along with some special venues to hang out, then I suggest you look into the higher categories of service. What our cabin did come with was extra space, both in the room, the bathroom and a larger walk-in closet. We found we had plenty of space to store our 4 large suitcases (when empty) under the bed and found it easy to find places for our clothing and supplies. The balcony had a small round table with 2 chairs and one lounger. The girls slept on a pull out couch which I didn't think was very comfortable. All in all, a nice stateroom and I would recommend it.
Activities: more than I can count: plenty to do. I would make one observation, though. We had pre-paid for our daughters to have a private Flowrider lesson the first morning of the cruise. When we showed up there were over 10 kids there at the same time. Now, they did get some extra instruction and the guys were great, but I'm disappointed that Royal Caribbean misrepresented the experience as a private lesson when it was really a group. Honestly, the lessons are not needed. You get some teaching from the sports guys every time you get on the thing, so just go do it and you will have a great time. There are some bleacher seats to use when you want to watch someone on the Flowrider. It is part shade. We did not do the Zip Line but my kids did enjoy rock climbing. The kids did do some of the activities with the children's program including their well-done low stress, feel good talent show. All the kids got certificates.
Shows: MAKE RESERVATIONS FOR THE SHOWS BEFORE YOU GET ON THE SHIP. Honestly I have no idea why people waste time in "standby lines" to get into the major productions. We appreciated having this taken care of before hand. The adult comedy show was really funny and was one of my favorite shows. I saw the diving show (Oasis of Dreams) and although the diving was really remarkable, and the other technical aspects of the show were top notch, I was unable to follow any story line. Weird. The ice show was very good. There is an improv show toward the end of the cruise. I would have appreciated them warning me about the adult content. There were a lot of kids in the room and the content was inappropriate for children by any reasonable measure.
Dining: Went to Izumi and Chops, two of the specialty restaurants. Although the food in the main dining room was good, the specialty restaurants are really worth the extra cost, in my opinion. We ate at the Park Cafe, one of the complementary restaurants and found the roast beef sandwiches (freshly sliced--yummy!) and the "make your own salads" to be excellent. Vintages had some excellent wine and tapas. Our favorite was the cheese and crusty bread with the wine. We went there twice! Windjammers is the large buffet style restaurant where we had several breakfasts, lunches and snacks. I think the food was a notch above the last NCL cruise we took, but can get crowded. The kids enjoyed the pizza at Sorrento's, a complimentary joint off the Prominade which seemed to be open very late when a snack was needed.
Ports: Got off the ship on Labadee and did the Wave Runner Tour. Now, THAT was a blast! Had a great time out there. At one point, they stopped us and some of the Haitians paddled out to sell us some stuff. My wife bought a little something from them. We also did Dragon's Breath Coaster. It was fun but we were in line an awful long time before we got to go. You get to see some really cool views of Labadee and the ship. it was a fun ride--wished I had done this twice! People thought the Zip Line was fun, but quick for the price paid. We spent an hour at the water park (basically a bunch of inflatables you can climb on). Kids had fun. This place was very hot and there is precious little shade. I would get a cabana if you can swing it. That way you will have a place to escape to when you get too much sun. Did some shopping in Jamaica (there are lots of shops just off the ship) and brought home some wood carvings and t-shirts. Also got off the boat in Cozumel, took a taxi down to the Forum shops which is way down the end of downtown. It wasn't worth it. I wouldn't go there. Just shop closer to the ship. It is a zoo.
Service: very, very good. I have nothing but excellent comments for the crew! I was impressed and wouldn't believe any comments about crew being unfriendly. That assertion is simply unfounded.
If you want a phone to talk to your family members or friends you must do this first thing when you get on the ship and you should get on the ship early. They have very few phones available and run out fast. I had some walkie-talkies that didn't work very well unless you were pretty close to each other, relatively speaking.
We enjoyed the running/walking track for some exercise outside, covered, on Deck 5. There is a drinking fountain there and charts to help you know how far you have gone.
I look forward to cruising on the Oasis or Allure in the next year or two.