This was my first cruise and I can say I will certainly go again soon! I will try and be as detailed as I can and please keep in mind I'm new to cruising so some things may just be the norm on all cruises.
My wife and I arrived at about noon in Tampa on our day of departure. We parked right across the street from the ship. Cost was $15/day which I'm sure there were cheaper places, but this was pretty conveinent and seemed secure. We walked our bags across to the terminal and at first I thought things were moving quickly. Then we turned the corner once inside and were met by a huge crowd. Not sure how others got on the ship so quick, but we were about 45min,plus it got pretty muggy inside the terminal with all the people.
Once on the ship though we attempted to go to our room, but were told it would be a 20min wait. No big deal, we headed up to the Windjammer cafe for some lunch. This was where we would end up eating most of our meals. Buffet style with several stations and lots of variety. Food was decent for the most part. A few things that we would never try again, but that's what was good with a buffet. We just went on to something else.
A note about the beverages. My wife and I bought the soda package, but come to find out at least in the Windjammer that tea, water and lemonade are all ready and waiting for you. You serve yourself and there is always someone filling up the glasses. To get a soda you need to ask a waiter or go to a bar and wait in line. Had I known this I probably wouldn't have purchased the package.
We were done with lunch in about 30min and just prior to us leaving an announcement was made that the cabins were ready. We went to our cabin and I found it to be pretty small. We had a balcony (which I highly recommend), but still it was close living. They make real good use of the space though. The bed was also bigger than expected. I'm 6'4" and even a king size isn't quite big enough so I was worried about a queen. Nice touch though is that the bed has a curve out at the foot of the bed and it makes it a little bit longer. All in all the bed was decent. Not like our tempurpedic at home, but it worked.
Now speaking of close living I checked out the bathroom. Really small. The shower even smaller. My wife is 5'3" and 130lbs and even she said it was tiny. Throughout the cruise we would see other "healthier" individuals and tell each other there was no way they could shower. So just be advised if you are bigger than most people.
Next cruise I'm gonna try out one of the suites. They seem pretty nice and worth the extra money. Also you get other "suite only" perks.
The only real issue we had with the cruise was the luggage being delivered. This is probably normal, but my wife got real worried. Both our bags were handed off at the same time to the gentleman at the front of the terminal yet it took her bag 4hrs longer to reach our cabin than mine. She was sure they had lost her bag. It arrived though and all was good.
Moving on to the rest of the ship. I kept saying how I could not imagine that all of this was on a ship. It really is amazing all that they can pack inside this ship. From a full theater for broadway type shows and comeadians. We checked out three shows and I thought all were pretty good. A good size casino which was also quite nice. I would like to see more table games and less slot machines personally. To all the restuarants and bars and clubs and don't forget 3 pools.
We ate at Tides restaurant and Chop's steakhouse one time each. There was good reason we didn't return. The food in both places was nothing to write home about and certainly not worth the $80 (gratuity included) for the Chops restaurant. I ordered the New York strip and it was pretty tough to cut through. Sorry, but I really can't recommend either of them. On top of that you have to wait for food and drinks and the servers get quite busy. Also the portions are pretty small. We opted to not try Portofino's as the pasta and sauce in the Windjammer was pretty awful and we figured more of the same would come out of the Portofino.
We also ate at the Seaview cafe which is on deck 13 at the back of the ship. Nice little place for sandwhichs and pretty quiet as well. Ate there twice.
As I mentioned before the ship has plenty to do. You get an iteinary each night for the next day and its packed with things going on. We bought a few things in the shops which were all pretty nice. We also played Bingo on our last night and I got into an adult dodgeball game on the last day. All in all a good time.
My wife got a facial and some other things at the spa. She really liked it a lot, but got suckered into buying the extra product which was about the same cost as the treatment.... :) Anyhow she was happy so that's what matters.
For the ports of call we went to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. Grand Cayman was kind of disappointing. Only a few shops open and the area was run down. We did do a submarine ride on our own that was pretty cool. The wife liked it a lot.
Cozumel was better. Although due to high winds all of the water based excursions were cancelled, we still had a good time at the shops. The area was also a little better kept and organized.
Getting off back at Tampa took us about 30min. We chose to take our own bags and while it did take a little time the lines moved along.
I would also like to add that all of the staff we encountered were very friendly and eager to serve. The ship was also kept quite clean and very minor signs of wear or age. Our room attendant also was very quick to clean our room each time we left for dinner or whatever.
We enjoyed our cruise very much. This is certainly a new vacation choice in the future.