It was ok.. but it didn't live up to the hype. Being fair, it's our third cruise in 16 months and maybe we're a bit over the whole cruising thing for a while, as well as the Pacific Islands. We got off this cruise saying "well that was ok, but we won't do another", whereas on previous cruises we hopped off as keen as mustard to book another as quick as possible.
Embarkation (and Debarkation at the other end) is quick and easy.
Service on the ship is excellent in all areas. The staff were great.
We were not overly impressed with the food, other than the Empire Restaurant. It was certainly plentiful and available often, but it was average. Average is ok, we're realistic about a buffet - but we expected (and have become used to) better. Often luke-warm too (or even cold in some cases). It was certainly nothing to write home about - well at least not for the right reasons. To be fair though - the Empire Restaurant fare was excellent and we really enjoyed dining there (in fact it was a no-brainer with the quality of the buffet).
The decor as mentioned is sort of dark and odd. Didn't think that would bother us and it probably didn't - but maybe subconsciously it added to the overall picture of averageness and drearyness.
Entertainment wasn't as good as we expected. There were many cruisers we talked to that had been on other cruises making similar statements - along the lines of there just isn't as much activities to do (or variety of) on this ship, the shows were not as good and the general atmosphere lacking. The live band was good though.
Our 12 year old had a ball. However he did comment, that the Circle-C kids club program was nowhere near as organised as his last cruise. Yes, there were a lot of kids, but they were NOT out of control as some have stated. They were certainly more noticeable on this cruise, but there was no issues there.
This won't bother many, but it's not as friendly for smokers. Yes, I know it may seem trivial, but it was a case of having to go from our room on level 1 up to the top deck each time and then along the other end of the ship. Or if you were at the casino on level 2, it's a similar hike. P&0 have one of the complete walking decks on deck 7 available for smokers along with one side of the top deck; and with the rooms starting at deck 5 -wherever you are on their ships, it's a maximum of 2 decks to get your fix. Deck chairs on the walking deck (which I think was deck 3)would also make a difference.
I think the hype is the food (quantity - 24 hour pizza, 24 hour ice-cream, fries & burgers all included in the price), along with the Green Thunder and the soft-drink package. We found, you get over the rubbish type food quickly, you can only drink so much softdrink - and even the kids can only spend so much time on the Green Thunder before the novelty wears off). Strip them away and there's no point of difference and they lag behind other ships in other areas such as food & entertainment. Certainly we didn't have a bad time (how could you?), but nothing to rave about.