Just finished a Back 2 Back cruise, starting with the 4 day over Thanksgiving and ending with the 3 day cruise right afterward. So this review may be a bit of both cruises, they were stuck together & I'm not going to write 2 reviews.
This is the first cruise I've booked in a 1A for over a decade, we did better than I had expected given the bunk bed set up, small cabin & lack of balcony. Holiday cruises so the prices were quite high is why I booked this sort of cabin. It worked out pretty well with time off I already had from work.
Embarkation was quick and smooth despite not being platinum, and not going for the Faster to the Fun surcharge. We were on the ship about an hour after getting to port for the first cruise, and they had a coupon system for reboarding on the B2B where we instructed to go to the platinum line - we were taken care of very well & reboarded the ship immediately after our outing to Long Beach to restock on bottled water & sundries.
The cabin was well layed out, with a couple of exceptions. There is no storage whatsoever in the bathroom. A tiny and very shallow shelf above the sink - that's it. So shallow my large travel kit bag had to be tilted up on it's side to fit on the shelf, with the bar that is supposed to hold items securely on the glass shelf. I hung the hair dryer off a knob on the door (another thing with this class of ship - if you don't book a suite I hear there is no hair dryer or fridge, so pack the hair dryer!). There are a couple smallish closets & a very skinny one we used for coats/jackets. It would have been sufficient for one short cruise, but a bit cramped for a B2B equaling 7 days total. Or if only 1 person were in the room it would have been sufficient storage space, but not 2 people for 2 cruises.
I hit my head on the upper bunk at least once a day for the entire cruise. It helped that I packed a travel clock, had flash lights etc. Those inside cabins are so dark. I kept turning the TV on to the station that had a camera on the bow of the ship, to simulate an actual window. But to no avail, DS kept turning the channel back to cartoons or the radio stations.
The Production shows were cancelled for the entire cruise, except for possibly the last night (which I missed). A big disappointment, I was told that it was due to injuries of the male dancers with illness added on for this cruise. That's how it goes though, with only 2 male dancers & a male singer / dancer. I saw the shows on the next cruise & have to give a shout out to Jarvis, the male lead singer (who was an amazing dancer I might add, have never seen a lead singer on a ship who could actually dance to keep up with the company dancers - he looked to me like he could hold his own if not surpass some. Whatever, it's reasonable to cancel the shows in an unusual circumstance like this. Not worth destroying a dancers career to dance through a bad injury. Shows on land have understudies, but on a ship you don't have that luxury.
I took the Behind the Fun tour on the first cruise, it had not sold out despite me not getting to the Pursers desk until evening the first day. And on the 2nd cruise, 2nd day into the cruise I heard it being promoted by Stephanie the CD. This is unusual, I hear they usually sell out all the spots immediately as passengers board. This was the first time I took the tour, I must say I expected more. We enjoyed seeing the galley & back stage area, but I've heard on some tours they actually go into the medical center, get to see the Brig, etc. Nothing like that on this tour. Maybe the brig was occupied!
The food was good, although I wish there was some variation between the menus for the 4 day & 3 day cruises. I thought the baked mediterranean fish I had at the lido on embarkation was very good, but was so salty it was hard to eat. Seriously, 1/3 of the salt put in and it would have been perfect. The food in the MDR was fine, in fact I couldn't fault any of it from room service to the lido or MDR for our short cruise. Much better than any of the food I had on the Imagination, another Fantasy class ship. Only down point - on disembark day the pot of coffee delivered was empty. Chalk it up to crew being rushed, as I tipped very well throughout both cruises & no need for a screw up like that.
We found our own tours for all the port days, for Catalina we tendered in & did a tour of the Casino. Wish we could have caught the more lengthy behind the scenes tour but it was a few minutes too late - the tour starts at 12:30 so catch the tender by 11:30 if you want to take that. In ensenada booked a massage & then a facial for both port days on the 2 cruises - this is a first rate spa with no funny stuff. Massage & Facial care, it's about 5 blocks north of the ship, about half a block SE of the McDonalds in town. I walked there with my son but really Ensenada didn't seem any worse than walking in some parts of Seattle in the evening. The only parts I found difficult were the parts closer to the ship, where women & would sit on the sidewalk with their young kids or infants, begging. I know it's to be expected in poor countries but still hard to see.
It may be a trend on all the cruises, but it seems like there are fewer & fewer activities of interest to me on the daily sheet. The dance classes were 75% of the time offered once a day, and during late seating dinner. This would not work for either the late diners like me, or the early ones likely, as who wants to take a class half an hour after you've eaten? Seriously, the class should be late morning or mid afternoon, not during one of the set dining times.
The ship was clean but there were some bad sewage smells walking past many of the cabins on our deck. Cabin stewards did a great job keeping the cabin clean & also trying to work around DS's bed slug schedule. Even if they only got to the cabin once a day, I told the steward not to worry about it since it isn't like I'm cleaning twice a day at home. They did a nice job of the towel animals, too.
All in all a nice get away, food & service comparable to the larger Carnival ships.