Just returned from the subject cruise and wanted to share my thoughts. Overall a great cruise, great ship and people.
We traveled from south-central Pennsylvania so the ride took 2.5 to 3 hrs. It was an easy drive. Dropped off luggage with porters and then parked car within easy walking distance. We actually expected a longer drive so we arrived VERY early. There is a separate room for Aqua Class and Suites but, since we were there before 10 am there wasn't anyone in line anyway. We boarded the ship at 11 and went to the Aqua Spa Cafe for lunch.
Cabin 9112 Starboard. There have been a lot of threads regarding the deck 9 bathroom and how old they were. Our bathroom may have been the exception. It was clean and appeared to have been refurbished. The upgraded shower was nice but did not impress me as much as other posters have indicated. There are glass doors that open in barn-door style. These doors do open both ways helping to keep the water off the floor when leaving the shower. I liked that. The mirror is heated and does not fog.
There have also been posts about noise from the deck above. We did not experience any noise either in our cabin or on our balcony.
The view from the balcony was great. If you looked straight down you would see the top of a life boat; however, being on deck 9 your eyes were naturally drawn past that and out to sea.
Lots of storage room. One tip that I learned on Cruise Critic was to store the suitcases under the bed. LOTS of room there. We stored three 28 in suitcases and a garment bag there without problem. We moved the robes to make more room for clothes in the closet (did I mention the 3 LARGE suitcases?) and with the drawers under the safe had plenty of room.
Our room steward (Muhamad) did a good job. We barely saw him but things were clean and well kept.
A note about docking in Bermuda: We cruised the Summit to Bermuda in 2010 and had a starboard cabin. At that time the ship docked so that our balcony faced the bay. This was very nice and beautiful. I purposely booked a starboard cabin this time for that reason. The ship docked this time so that our starboard cabin faced the port. A nice surprise for us. We enjoyed this different perspective of Bermuda and watching the activity was fun; especially as we watched the last two people running to catch the ship 5 minutes before we departed. Needless to say they were very popular and were met by applause and cheering from the many balconies.
The best review of the cabin that I can give is to say that I will request this very cabin for our future cruises.
Blu: I really enjoyed Blu. Food quality was exceptional. One observation (not a complaint): Service could be a bit spotty. Although very friendly the waiters did; at times, seem a bit frazzled and rushed. Nicholas the Maitre D was very professional and friendly.
Normandy: We ate one meal at the Normandy and it was; as always, exceptional
MDR: We also ate one meal in the MDR. The MDR is a classic cruise experience and we did not want to miss out entirely. My DW and I have a difference of opinion here. She felt the MDR experience was wonderful and felt that she missed dining there. I; on the other hand, felt the MDR was crowded, noisy and the food was simply OK. Blu had me spoiled.
Bistro on Five: A joy. I recommend that everyone spend some time in Bistro on Five. I remember reading other posters stating how this was well worth the $5 cover and thought to myself "we will see". Well, I agree. the food was great and Elizabeth and Miheala (SP?) were wonderful and a true joy to meet.
Auqa Spa Cafe: We had lunch there the first day and it was enjoyable. With all of the other options we never made it back.
Gelateria: Good gelato but to be honest, with the quality of the ice cream being served at the buffet I had problems paying for the gelato.
Waterfall Grill (by the pool): Black Angus burgers freshly cooked with any fixing that you wish are always a winner with me. Trust me, it is worth the wait & the calories. The hot dogs are great also.
Waterfall Grill: the buffet was a big surprise for me. With all of the other food options most of our meals at the buffet consisted of the Pizza and the Sushi. Pizza was great but they do run out quickly. This means what you receive is fresh but you must be patient. I thought the sushi was very good. I had sushi on two evening and enjoyed it both times. I am not a sushi expert so can only provide my uneducated opinion.
Qsine: due to enjoying all of the other venues we did not make it to Qsine. We will save that till next time.
We found EVERYONE to be incredibly friendly and cordial from the girl cleaning the windows who stopped and turned to say "welcome" to the people cleaning to the bar servers who always had a smile and a bit of advice for dealing with rough seas.
A few key personnel who made our experience exceptional:
Winston (Jamaica): Martini Bar
Alvaro (Columbia): Rendez-Vous Lounge
Elizabeth (Mexico): Bistro on five
Miheala (Romania): Bistro on Five and Gelateria
Nicholas (South Africa): Blu
Sebastian (??): Blu
Kristina (Phillipines): Lead singer for Rhythmics
Production Shows: the shows were fun and entertaining. Sometimes a bit campy (Sirens for one) but still fun. A good way to spend your time.
Lounge shows: We spent most of our evenings at the Rendez-Vous lounge listening to the Rhymics. A very good band. We had a blast dancing to them.
The rest of the entertainment was good but we spent most of our time as mentioned above.
Overall ship condition was great. Very clean and bright. Lots of nooks to sit and watch the ocean or people or; as many people did, nap. Even though the ship was recently Solcitized, there were a few spots that could use a bit of sprucing up but these are minor and not worth focusing on.
We've been to Bermuda two prior times so this trip was more about enjoying the ship than it was the island. We took the free trolley over to the dock area and walked around the Clock Tower Mall but tht was the extent of our visit to the Island.
Being able to enjoy an empty pool area while everyone else was on the island was heaven.
A great cruise experience that I look forward to doing again soon.