Must preface this very positive review with the fact that the ship was only about 80% full on this September 8th cruise to Bermuda. None of the complaints about lines, too few deck chairs or difficulty getting reservations applied on this cruise the first week after school started. If you don't want scads of kids around,choose this time to go to Bermuda. Weather was still lovely for most of the cruise although we did miss a day in Bermuda due to a tropical storm closing the harbor. Never heard any real complaints about this - everyone realized you can't control the weather and the ship stayed in relatively calm sunny waters until the harbor opened. We had to change a privately scheduled tee time at Port Royal Golf course and the desk staff made the call for us at no charge. Couldn't have been nicer. Note: the golf course was just beautiful and making a 3:00 tee time cut $140 off the cost for the two of us and still allowed plenty of time to play the round.
Our midship balcony cabin was more than adequate for 2 people. Yes, it would have been a little tight for four, but there was plenty of storage (golf clubs even fit in the closet) a large comfortable bed and lovely functional bathroom. At the $950 each we paid (with some on board credit thrown in as well) it was well worth the price.
We ate at Le Bistro the first night avoiding any possible crowds and enjoying the free bottle of wine with a lovely dinner. Tried La Cucina later in the cruise and also enjoyed our meal. One night we ate in Savor, perfectly fine and the others in Manhattan where we enjoyed the dance band during dinner most nights. Overall the food was good, with the appetizers and soup being especially good. One bad steak one night. Think about what you order. A place that is feeding thousands at a time isn't going to do as good a job on dishes that take individual attention as it will on things like prime rib. We skipped the breakfast buffet most mornings and ate in the dining room. Why not be served on table clothes with a pot of coffee brought to your table in the morning? You're at sea and don't have to be anywhere. We did have breakfast in the Garden Buffet two mornings and found numerous, well prepared choices. We generally skipped lunch (how much can you eat in one day?), but hit the buffet for ice cream and maybe a slice of pizza in the afternoon.
The entertainment was professional and everywhere! Every bar and the Atrium had musicians performing in the evening. We enjoyed them all. The waiters promptly appeared to offer you a drink, but they were perfectly happy to bring you a glass of ice water to sip throughout the performance.
Now to my main point about not having to spend a fortune. If you don't have to shop, drink excessively or gamble you can still have a great time on this cruise. We brought wine on board, paying the $15 bottle corkage fees, but since we already had the wine at home this was no big expense and the dining rooms were happy to pour and then store any leftovers. We also brought a 12 pack of soda. Since we could drive to the pier this was easy. We parked off site saving a little money. Dropped my husband and baggage off at the ship, parked a few blocks away and walked back. No problem since the weather was nice, but only saved about $45 so not necessarily worth it if it's raining or you don't like to walk.
No real need to book expensive excursions. Public transportation in Bermuda is quite easy to navigate. Taxi rates are posted right outside the ship and the taxi drivers we used were happy to point out sights and give a little history lesson. Took the ferry and the buses with no problem, just double check the schedule since it is different on different days. Water sport excursions available right off the ship.
Free exercise classes include a morning Rockettes stretch class and Zumba afternoons at sea. I sprung for an expensive facial the first sea day. Good results, but the spa was the only place I experienced a hard sell. Had to tell the girl to stop trying to sell me Botox and just give me a nice facial.
I can't say enough about the positive attitude of crew. Maybe because the ship wasn't full and they were a little less stressed, everyone from the stewards, waiters, cleaning staff and upward was gracious and accomodating. This was a happy sailing. We ate, drank, were entertained, played golf and saw the sights all for about $1500 each for the week. Now that to me is a good deal.