October 2006 Destination:
Background Information : First of all let me tell you that I am writing this review primarily because the reviews of other "Cruise Critics" were so helpful to me in making sure my cruise experience was the best it could possibly be. My Husband & I are in our 50's & this was our first cruise. I booked a Junior Suite because I definitely wanted a Balcony & I knew from reading other reviews that the cabins on this ship were small. Ship Info: The ship itself was really quite nice. The public area were all very well kept and staff was constantly cleaning & polishing. The Centrum was just beautiful in my opinion. The casino was a little small but I expected that and it had a good mix of slots, video poker, blackjack & poker tables. At times the elevators were slow to arrive but I guess that is to be expected when you have so many people to deal with. The pool area was probably my least favorite thing on the ship. That was the one area that seemed a little dated, but More
there were plenty of chairs & it never seemed too awfully crowded. Activities : The activities seemed endless, there was always something to do. Everything from fitness classes, trivia games, bridge, dancing classes, scrapbooking, rock climbing wall, weight loss seminars, & that was just one morning! Also the spa & health club are awesome, and it has one of the best views on the ship. Watch for in port specials. I got a facial, eye zone treatment & hot stone massage for $79, incredible! Just check in the Compass the night before & call at 8 am sharp because bookings are extremely limited. I can also recommend shopping on board. The prices are excellent and of course tax & duty free. You can get 2 liter bottles of Absolute Vodka or other brands of liquor for $19.95 That is less than you could buy one bottle on shore! They also have a clearance sale the last night of the cruise & that is definitely the time to buy your tee shirts & memorabilia. Service : Our service was outstanding. Our Wait staff knew our names & preferences within 24 hours of boarding. Shore Excursions : We only took one shore excursion in Key West. The guides were prompt & informative. Summary : We could not have been more pleased with our first cruise experience & look forward to booking our next cruise. Travel To Port of Embarkation : We drove from our home in St. Petersburg on the day of embarkation & arrived around 2:00 pm. Because of my Husbands disability, & the fact that we had booked a suite, we were given priority boarding. When we went to our room our luggage had already arrived. We had plenty of time to go to the Windjammer for lunch & a pina colada before sail away. Stateroom : Again, I booked a Jr. Suite. My Husband is disabled due to a spinal cord injury, and although he can walk short distances with a walker, we would need his wheelchair to get around the ship. We are also smokers and wanted to be able to go out on the balcony and have plenty of fresh air circulating. I don't know how we got so lucky, but we were upgraded to a Grand Suite, and we absolutely loved it. Yes, the ship is older, and there were some signs of wear & tear, but no more so then in most Hotels I have stayed in. Overall, the room was exceptionally clean and our Suite attendant, Jeffery was outstanding. Each afternoon he would leave us a small treat, Chocolate covered Strawberries, A fruit basket, or cheese tray to have before dinner. When we came back from our evening we would find the bed turned down with chocolates on the pillow and those adorable animals fashioned out of bath towels. We could not have been any more pleased . Dining : We chose the early seating as we try not to eat anything after 7 pm. We were assigned to the Maytime dining room. The room itself was very nice, but a little crowded. As I said before our wait staff was excellent. The food had high points & low. My favorites were the Prime Rib, the Scallop Risotto, & the Grand Marnier Souffle. The Steaks were average at best. I recommend trying the Mahi Mahi which was excellent. The Nicoise Salad was very fresh with wonderful Tuna, but the Caesar was a little bland for my taste. Probably our favorite thing was having Breakfast on the balcony every morning. The Room Service Breakfast is limited to continental, but the Coffee is Seattle's Best, the fruit is fresh and plentiful, the croissants & pastries were disappointing but everything else made up for that. Entertainment : The entertainment was varied, I did not see the comedian, but other passengers had good things to say. The music was very good, I especially liked "Caribbean Force" who play Calypso music poolside. The production shows were just what one would expect. Disembarkation : Another great experience. I was a little concerned because you have to put your luggage out the night before, so you need to make sure you keep out everything you need for the morning. We again were given priority departure, so we were whisked off the ship and customs was a breeze. Just writing this has made me want to book again. Bon Voyage! Less
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