We're first time cruisers and this ship really wowed us!!
We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale at the Renaissance on Friday night. It was a lovely hotel and within minutes of the airport/port and they have shuttle to the port. The great feature of the hotel was the trolley that stopped out front. For $2.00 dollars a day per person you can get a pass to ride down to the beach. There's tons of shopping and dining options.
Check-in took at the ship took minutes and we were on the ship by 11:30. The ship is very clean and the staff is extremely friendly. We purchased the premium alcohol package/soda package for the kids and the 4 specialty restaurants for $70 pp.
We traveled with ten other family members, including our cabin of four. The only time you noticed the crowd was after shows or at the pool on sea days.
We really enjoyed Chops & Giovanni's Table. Our rookie move was accepting the water they offered, just ask for tap water or you can really rack up a water bill quickly :) Helpful tips, you can always ask for more or something different if you didn't like what you ordered. We really enjoyed our main waiting room waitress Allayna. She was very attentive and always remembered our names/seats and what our preferences were. Because she was so great we made extra trips at lunch/breakfast just to see her :) We thought the food was really great. If you order eggs off the main menu they're fresh eggs rather than the bulk eggs product served on the buffet line.
The roast beef sandwiches and salads at Park Cafe are amazing. The families in our group traveling with small children really loved the Windjammer & room service. Staff advised that the worst day for room service is the first morning, as tons of people are requesting room service that morning before the Bahamas port.
Per the message boards we reserved all our shows online. We got to see amazing shows every night. All the members of our group both young and old loved them. The kids watched a free DreamWorks movie Turbo in 3D. We enjoyed the extra diving show and Love & Marriage game show. Amy the Cruise director was energetic and did a great job of keeping everyone pumped up.
My husband and I enjoyed the Solarium adults only area for sunbathing and drinks.
A few tips that we got on this board are bringing a lanyard for your sea pass card. You can get it hole punched at customer service. They sell them on the ship for $6.95. We bought a collapsing laundry bag for our dirty clothes and a behind the door shoe holder. It was great for storing curling irons, hairsprays and lotion as the bathroom space is limited. We also loved the extension cord tip. It was great for behind the bed for our electronic devices. Lastly, lots of extra tipping money. We loved dollar coins they fit nicely in the beach bag and don't stand out as much as paper bills.
We loved this cruise so much we booked our next one on the Quantum of the Seas.