We travelled as a family of 4, myself , husband and two teenage sons 13 and 15. We were first time cruisers and loved our experience. Personally I have never relaxed so much on holiday before (possibly because I choose to have minimal phone and internet use for 2 weeks).
Our arrival at Southampton was stress free we were so early we had to wait for car park to be ready. After a short wait we were directed to our parking space, handed cases over and took short walk to terminal. Check-in was quick and efficient and within 10 mins we were being called to board - by 11am I was on a sunlounger enjoying the weather. We had a wander around the upper decks and visited the windjammer for a bit of lunch.
My husband and I mainly ate in the MDR and always enjoyed our meals, we were on my time dining and even though we sat at a few different tables the dining staff were always polite and helpful. We had Alfonso and Walter for the majority of our meals and they were fantastic, knew exactly what we wanted to drink, helped advise on menu and attentive. We also ate a la carte at breakfast most days, preferring the relaxed atmosphere to the WJ which we only visited for breakfast on the first morning.
We used room service for breakfast on 2 occasions, first time was good, trays arrived on the dot at 8.30am (requested 8.30 - 9am), unfortunately our second experience was not as good, we had ordered breakfast on the morning of Rome trip for 7-7.30am, and had to phone at 7.35am to ask if it was on it's way as e were booked on excursion at 7.55am. On reflection we should have just gone to buffet but as we were on deck 2 forward, meeting in theatre on deck 3 forward we guessed it would be easier than treking to WJ, just wish if they had too many orders to handle they would have let us know earlier.
DH and I went to headliner show most evenings and really enjoyed them as well as ice show. We also enjoyed listening to some of the live music in the various bars and lounges. I loved my frozen mojitos and cocktails of the day.
We rarely saw our teenagers who quickly grouped up with others on board to hang out. They did attend some of the teen activities though often saying it seemed a bit unorganised and they always seemed to push the limits of the curfew! Despite the fact there were so many teens on board the ship didn't appear overrun, but that may have been because we tended to stay towards the front of the ship on deck 11 or 12 during the day which was much quieter in volume than main pool area.
Sunlounger problems - we always found a lounger even if it wasn't in a perfect position, only once was I out on deck before 10/10.30am and agree that often there were unattended towels/beds for long periods and only saw towels removed on one occasion by deck patrol.
Our connecting cabins were adequate for our needs, loved the fact we had 2 bathrooms and knew boys had come back at night. Downside was we were on deck 2 forward and felt a little detatched from upper cabins and it was sometimes noisy when docking (especially on return to Southampton, docking doors for luggage were right below our cabins so I was certainly glad we had an 6.30 am departure time - no lie in that morning). Upside it was quiet at night, no noisy cruisers coming down the corridors late at night.
Will we cruise again? Yes I loved the fact I could do as little or as much as I wanted and not feel pressured to join in with activities. Already looking for suitable sailings for next year.
Thank to all the fantastic, friendly, helpful staff and fellow cruisers who we chatted to over meals, drinks and in theatre.