We boarded on the 22nd of December to spend Christmas with over 6,000 people and folks is was truly wonderful. My husband and I are in our 50's and treated our three children (27, 22 and 20) to this cruise. We arrived close to ll:30 in the morning, dropped our bags off with a porter, checked in at the Gold counter and bang baby we walked onto the ship. Make sure you fill out your paperwork before going...sure saves times. We didn't have tickets for our bags but that wasn't a problem. Took just a moment for porter to tag our bags.
Our group had already decided to high tail it to try their famous roast beef sandwiches located on deck 8. We were about the first people there. Sandwiches were good but not "out of this world" good. Salads and chips rounded our first meal out. This was the only place that "soda" was...well lacking. Speaking of soda make sure you get at least one soda pass. Well worth it. You get a "take home" cup and the ship has at least two coke machines. One located on 5 and the other in the windjammer...and, it's a good coke product. You can also get soda at any bar. We cheated and shared between us.
Speaking of cheating...our "of age" children wanted to see if they could sneak a little alcohol on board and after "you're going to get caught talk from mom" tried anyways and they succeeded. But do realize before you try this it's really a cat and mouse game. We did see several people (all young) looking for their bags at 6pm....off to the "naughty" room to explain.
After our roast beef sandwiches the kids (the ones we paid for) took off to explore on their own. Hubby and I looked around until our room was ready at 1pm. Our room was on deck 10 (10286) and was really nice and clean. Bathroom is a tad small and lordy I don't know how a bigger person would fit in the shower. Well they might get in there but no chance of washing their back. Shaving leg bar was a nice and appreciated touch. We had an ocean view balcony which we didn't really use for sitting but sure did for looking. We were on "port" side which doesn't every show you the "ports" but ended up liking that better. Heck, you get off to see the port I really enjoyed being in port and still seeing a peaceful ocean view. Oh yea, bring shampoo and stuff as they only give you one small bottle and a little soap.
Guy cleaning our room was just great. Tell him immediately if you would like ice or special pillows. Bed was comfortable but have had better. Our cabin guy also cleaned our kids room and would keep track of us all for the other. That was a wonderful help...he would say "Your daughter went to the gym". I did bring sticky notes to help us keep track of each other but no one ever used them...go figured. Our kids had two inside rooms...believe 10273 and 10275 both that look to be above Dazzles. They never heard any noise at all. Location of all our cabins was excellent...close to the elevators and same side as windjammer and swimming pools. We all tipped him extra.
After the quick drill (wonderful) then the sailaway (kind of lacking) we had reservations at "Chops". It's a wonderful steak house even though my DIL got the fish and loved it. Service was excellent and so was the food. We gave our first "wow" card to our server. Each of you will get one "wow" card to give to a worker that is well..."wow". Chops is worth the extra expense.
After chops we went to see "Hairspray". I've seen many Broadway shows and it was on par with them. The problem was most of our group got a little bored with all the singing. If that's your thing you will not be disappointed with this show.
After the show we headed to the casino which is divided up into smoking and nonsmoking section. You really can't smell the smoke on the non side. It's a big casino and offers a lot of different kind of machines. If gambling is your thing then you will love the place. Problem with us...we couldn't find a winning machine :) Kids did play the tables and were up for a couple of nights then kept playing until they lost. That's a true gambler. Losing has never stopped us for going there...lose what you can afford to lose.
Second day was a day at sea and we all enjoyed that. This ship is not known for its ports so keep that in mind. We participated in several competitions and won a couple of medals...ping pong, volleyball, dodge ball...you get the picture. There is a small eating place by the basketball courts that serves soft served ice cream...plus hamburgers, french fries and such. Kid's heaven.
I'm getting tired of typing so I'm going to an express review now. We ate in the dining room the remainder of the nights and found it good...every night. It's a new menu and they have got it right. You can order from Chops in the dining room for a small fee. Formal nights for this cruise were Monday and Thursday. Steak and Lobster was good and served on Thursday evening. Our servers were excellent and knew each of our likes after the first night. They too earned two our "wow" cards...then two to our cabin guy and the last one to a bar guy. Seriously, you could get by without ever going to a speciality restaurant. Dining room is just that good. Also, you can order two of anything without a problem. We tipped our servers extra too.
Ice show was excellent...sand artist makes the show. We missed Come fly with me due to parting hardy in Jamaica. We did go to the comedy club...one guy funny one guy should not quit his day job.
In Cozumel our kids paid 80 something dollars to sit at a beach with all the drinks and food you wanted. Yes, they were trashed. Hubby and I found the condos just across from the pier. We listened to a 90 minute speech..in return we got all the drinks and food we wanted...and beach...and activities. To top it off they gave us a free bottle of liquor and a free three nights and four day stay for later to use. We were trashed too but ours was free! Try it...the place was beautiful!
We loved the ship. It offers so much. You can go from a peaceful site in Central Park to the boardwalk. Never felt too crowded to us. Elevators could be a tad slow but we are stair walking people. Daughter used gym everyday and thought it was good. Haiti stop...well it's just a beach and a buffet for lunch. We all went back on the ship to eat...no thanks for flies and food just sitting out in the sun...but, have to say it looked pretty good before the crowds "hit" it.
To end, I would have to say this ship is for people looking to stay on the ship. There's lots to do...pools are nice plenty of chairs. Noticed smokers have their place on one side of the ship which is nice if you smoke. My guys did smoke a cigar...think it was on deck 16. Nice comfortable seating.
Think I'll try the Allure next.