Well this was our 3rd cruise, 1st on Carnival, and we went with 12 other friends from our area. Arrived in Miami and stayed just across the bridge from the docks. Holiday Inn, Port of Miami is an excellent place to stay with much to do just across the street. Took an inexpensive cab ride to the port and began the embarkation process. Had read reviews of how long and tedious this would be but were pleasantly surprised how quickly we flew thru the process. Arrived in the Grand Atrium in just over 30 minutes.
We did arrive at the port early as well (about 1130 am). We quickly met our friends (all adults) many of whom this was their 1st cruise, and sat in the Atrium and had a few drinks. While we told we could not access our rooms until 3 pm, we all nonetheless went to our cabins about 1:30 and most of us were able to unpack or at least leave our carry-ons in the room. Spent the rest of the afternoon exploring this beautiful ship and sampling the food in the grill. As this was Super Bowl Sunday, most of us retired to watch the game as the ship left port.
The first day at sea was warm and sunny. All parties spent the majority of the on deck and continuing to explore the ship. The main pool deck was almost always very crowded daily but the live music made up for the crowd as they were quite good.
Our crew had dinner at the late seating in the Lincoln Dining room and we all found the food to be of reasonably good quality with a good variety. Our waiter and his assistant were excellent and made up for any short comings. 6 of us ate in the upscale dining room one night and found this to be quite an experience as it took us 2 1/2 hours to finish what turned out to be a 6 course meal. The cafeteria style food was also of similar quality to NCL's.
We enjoyed the Las Vegas style shows and late night stand up comics as they were all well done and the comics hilarious. Went to the art auction one day but left soon after as this was time consuming. The Captain's night was worth going to as there were free drinks and a chance to meet the crew of the ship.
The ship arrived on time every day with no delays and except for 2 medical emergencies back to back on the day we left port there were no other problems.
Our cabin I must admit was the most comfortable I have ever been in and that includes hotels. The mattress and pillows were beyond anything we had expected. Would like to have them at home! Only complaint was that we were over a noisy deck below and one day had paint fumes come in thru the ceiling vent. But one call and the fumes were gone and a bottle of champaign arrived.
All in all the ship is well kept and very beautiful. We had heard and expected lots of pink colors but were happy with the decor. The drinks were of good quality and the daily specials a nice way to sample different drinks. Not a single one of our party was disappointed with the cruise and we all had a great time. My wife is still against the set dinner seating and formal nights and so we will probably go with NCL again as we like free-style cruising and eating whenever.
We did not partake in any shore excursions having booked a few beach breaks on-line.
Disembarking was a breeze as we all elected to walk off with our luggage. All in all we had a great time and with no kids, had a fun and relaxing time as well.