We sailed the Southern Caribbean on the Breeze over Christmas, 2012. It was a pleasant cruise without many surprises. It was a nice, new, clean ship. And we all had a great time.
OK...here's what you really want to know:
1) Food. Overall, it was good. Indian, pizza, burgers, BBQ, main dining (be patient here, as is the case on all ships), and the buffet. All acceptable. If you are expecting gourmet (which some cruise critics seem to be expecting), don't bother getting on any ship, anywhere. Gourmet is back on land, in LA, San Fran, Chicago, ad NYC. One note: the sushi bar was kind of silly. Even the "basic" stuff they served wasn't like real 'basic" sushi / rolls. Piano Bar was cool. Red Frogs was cool. Outdoor bars were fine / small.
2) Active Pursuits. The kids on the ship seemed to love the rope course on the top deck, and the slide (my kids are 16/20, so they chill with the adults now). The gym was nice, but heavy emphasis on cardio....almost More
no free weights. Oh well....deal with it! The outdoor big screen is great. Mornings feature Lucy, Cheers, Honeymooners, and Happy Days. It's a trip down memory lane for us 40 something's. At night they show movies. You sit out on a warm deck, munch popcorn under the stars, and fall asleep watching a big flick. Loved it. Bball was on top deck, and the court is home to both roundball and soccer "tournaments." Also loved the The Library - chess, games, and a glass of wine. Casino was fine.....new, clean, the usual games, etc. Had 2 digital poker tables too....with scheduled meeting times for players that were interested. The shows were ok. 2 were decent / 1 pretty lame. Again, remember this is a cruise ship. It's not Broadway (Les Mis, Rent, Spring Awakening, etc). Make it a good time....
3) Cabin. We had a cove balcony 2317. It was quiet - the only sound was the ocean going by. Room had ample space for a fam of 4 adults. Bed was very firm, but surprisingly, I slept like a baby. Maybe my bed at home is too soft? And yes...the stewards still offer "towel animals" to greet you at night.
4) Personnel. We found most all Breeze team members to be extremely nice. A big shout out to Anil (from India) in the Sapphire dining room (he was our official waiter even though we did not have a reserved seating assignment) and to Alexandria (from Serbia).
5) Ports. Alas....we were saddened because the stop at Grand Turk was cancelled. It's my understanding that this isn't the first time that this has happened. Something about the the dock not being stable enough to handle the boat if the chop is too much? I suppose it's easier said than done, but Carnival guys, why don't you build a better dock? It's essentially a cruise line dock, right? In the Dominican we went snorkeling on a CAT (sailed out to Catalina Island).....I don't recommend it. The snorkeling just isn't that good. We would have inked a different deal, but it was Christmas, and much of the island was closed. In Curacao we did an island tour with a beach stop at the end. It was OK. Aruba? Forget about it. LOVED IT. The water was awesome, snorkeling was great, and sand was powder. I'm ready to pack up and move there.
Overall.....I recommend booking ALL excursions pre-cruise with private operators, or after you get off the ship. EVERY port has cabs and tour operators at the dock. Ship personnel may try to scare you with the Dominican stop....don't let them. While it's true you can't "walk off the dock and into the city," the port "compound" itself has cabs and city tours available, and cost is wayyyyy less than with the ship.
6) Embark / debark - awesome, easy, fastest of any ship I've been on (about 10 so far). Also, just wanted to mention that this week the ship was full since it was Christmas time. 4000+ passengers and 1300+ crew. And yet the crowds just weren't. It felt crowded almost nowhere. I couldn't believe it.
What else? I saw people complaining on the ship, just like here on the cruise critic boards. Give me a break. These trips / cruises are what you make of them. Go in having fun, with a laid back attitude, and, knowing NOTHING can spoil your trip, and you will enjoy your vacation. If you are expecting ground breaking service and food, ports that are fairy tales, and the ultimate that life has to offer, you should stay home in bed, with your head on the pillow, and keep on dreaming.