My wife, 19 month-old daughter, mother-in-law, and I went on a 5 day/4 night cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida to The Bahamas on September 2, 2012. My wife, daughter, and I stayed in room R-38. This was our first cruise ever so we are not in a position to compare to other ships, but can give an honest first impression. We paid $287 per person including taxes, which was a great deal compared to other departure dates.
Boarding at Port Canaveral was fairly simple, took less than 20 minutes, and we boarded soon after boarding began at 12:00 pm. The staff was very friendly and they had lunch waiting on the Lido deck. We used Park and Cruise, which was only $6.00 a day for parking
The room was little small for us, but typical for the second-cheapest room on the ship. It had a large king bed, small flastscreen, chairs, shower stall, sink, and toilet area. Body wash, soap, toothpaste, and shampoo were provided. There were three large closets and space underneath the bed. This was an inside cabin so there was no window. I am prone to getting seasick so I knew that an inside cabin on a low floor would be less rocky. The beds were very comfortable and the pillows were great. The room was very clean. There was a little desk area with a mirror. The AC worked great. One problem we had was that the doorway was too narrow for us to push a sleeping baby in a stroller through. TV channel selection and variety could have been better, but they did have ABC, NBC, CNN Cartoon Network, some sports channels, a Spanish station, and some movie channels.
The food on the ship was great. I'm not into fancy dining so I skipped the formal dining option and ate mostly of my meals at the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Sea View Bar and Grill while watching our daughter. My wife and her mother did enjoy the formal dining hall meals. What I liked at the Sea View Bar & Grill was that they had different food options every night so it was not the same old recycled meals. They also had a 24/7 pizza place, a Mongolian BBQ, Rotisserie Chicken, and a typical hamburger grill. I was disappointed in the free beverage options. I mostly drank lemonade on the cruise. They also had ice tea, but that was very weak. OJ and apple juice were available in the mornings. Cokes were $2.00 a can, which I did not purchase. Room service is free on the ship and my wife and mother-in-law took advantage of that every day.
The casino was nice. I only played Blackjack. The table minimums were very acceptable at $5 or $10 so if you played and went on a massive losing streak, you wouldn't break the bank. I wound up winning $125 on the ship and another $100 in Freeport and quit playing after the second night. I was disappointed that they did not have free drinks for the gamblers. Here's some advice, if you do not know how to play Blackjack, DO NOT PLAY! Nearly every person I played with at the Blackjack table were playing recklessly and making very stupid bets. That's just like writing a check to the casino.
The pool was very small and I thought it should be bigger. It was also very salty. There were at least 4 hot tubs on the ship that I counted, two of which were in the adults only area. One hot tub was hot and the other near the pool was only very warm, which was great for my daughter and kids. They had big slides on the top deck and a splash play area for little kids. However, the water in those rides and splash area was surprisingly very cold. There were plenty of deck chairs if you wanted to find one. We liked playing 9 hole mini golf on the top deck.
Housekeeping was great. Rooms were always cleaned thoroughly and many of the cleaning staff learned my daughter's name since she liked to run all around the hallways. They provided towels shaped like animals on some nights along with some chocolates. Tips were $11.50 a day per adult, which you had the discretion of adjusting up or down on your last day. That includes tips for every employee on the ship.
The ship was built in 1993 and does seem a little dated, but it underwent a major renovation in 2009. In sum, I'm sure this ship does not compare to some fancy Disney ships, but do you really want to pay 3-4 times as much for the same cruise? Unless you're high maintenance and a big complainer, you'll still enjoy yourself on this ship. I only spent $1.00 on the ship (a souvenir casino chip after I walked away $125 richer).
Marc T. Hardekopf