where does one start, This was our first cruise, and it was a great experience. I was wildly concerned about a number of things before our embarkation in San Francisco; primarily, how 2600 of us, along with up to 1200 crew would fit in any size ship, and have the ability to enjoy our time. We did; and not only that, not once during our cruise did I feel any excessive wait time, or felt over crowded, or "cattle"ized. My second fear, was that there were only 1 cruise critic review for this ship from this year for this itinerary, a red flag if ever there was one, again, not an issue, in speaking with many, many, friendly folks on board, most of all were multiple repeat cruisers, (we were in the far minority as first timers) all keep coming back, many to the same ship, and some on the same itinerary; red flag now a green flag.
I found the food just fine, making the 1st timers mistake of eating just about everything in site on the first day, the Lunch Buffet in the Horizon Court before we left the dock, to ordering 2 desserts at dinner. We traveled and aligned ourselves with friends who were experienced cruisers, and were able to glean from them many of the intricacies of life abroad aboard a ship, this was of huge help, in there was no "intro" to cruising, aboard the ship, so our expectations were a bit "iffy".
At the recommendation of our fellow travelers, we opted for traditional dining, at the early seating (5:30), and were assigned the Portofino Dining Salon. From day one, we were giving the option of transitioning to anytime dining, we stayed with the traditional, as it was a great time to connect with our fellow travelers, break bread, enjoy an occasional "fork full" of other menu items, and discuss plans for the evening, and the next day, there were eleven of us in this party, and our dining room service suffered. we were generally the last table to leave the room, our server was very enthusiastic, just not mature enough in his role, his helper on the other hand was terrific, and tried to compensate as he was able. Our server left the ship before San Francisco, and our service on the last 2 nights was exponentially better, finishing our meal 30 minutes earlier on both nights. This allowed us enough time to get to the shows. which were toe tapping, and humming later on terrific.
I became quickly addicted to the Trivia Contest, and was part of a team of some very bright folks, who allowed me to tag along. We lost on many occasions by just one point... great fun. My wife also became a bit addicted to Room Service in the AM. and she enjoyed Bingo in the elegant Vista Lounge.
The ship was clean, well laid out, and well lit at all times. I found staff very helpful, courteous, and kind. Our Room Steward was professional, accommodating, and seemed invested in our vacation being a success (which it was)
We opted to dine in the up-charge Grill venue, while the service was wonderful, the flavored salts were clever, that was about it.
What we enjoyed most was the ability to choose from many options as far as activities through out the day. or just to nap on the Promenade level after breakfast..... Other than a visit form the Novovirus on the very last evening of the cruise, it was great, and we are planning another.