Heads up Caribbean Cruise carriers, there is a new Master of the Caribbean. We arrived at the terminal and boarded at approximately 1:00 pm and were eating lunch at 1:30 pm. FANTASTIC. Quickest embarkation of all cruises we have ever taken including several Carnival and a couple Royal Caribbean.
Our cabin 9081 was a balcony with steel lower portion under the rail. A little restrictive but still a balcony. Our cabin was well appointed, quite spacious with a safe, plenty of cupboard storage, and comfortable beds.
Our cabin steward, baGuss Prabawinata was exceptional. We asked for an extra large bath towel and a fourth was provided almost immediately without question. With the feature of using your ship pass card to power lighting when you are in the cabin, a red light above your cabin door was energised when you were in the cabin so your attendant knew when to make up your room, provide ice, make towel animals (which he did nightly) all done when you were off enjoying your trip.
Dinning - Buffet meals were adequate, however, as with any cruise, crowds made the experience less than fun. Variety was very good. Unless you were a very picky eater you could find sufficient choice and amount. Drink stations plus waiter service within the buffet was good.
Drink packages - We were told at boarding we would need to visit customer service Deck 5 upon boarding to activate our card to get our drinks. We were pleasantly surprised to find our selection of drinks was far greater than we read online. Only a few European/ Asian/ UK beers were denoted as premium not included in the package we purchased. All drinks of the day, good quality liquors, bottled water, wine by the glass and cocktails were included. At a cost of $484 per person for 11 days one would need to ensure they consumed there share. Beers at $5 US and Vodka (Absolut or Smirnoff) $5.50 US and drinks of the day (Traveler for example or Strawberry Daiquiri) at $6.50. Also included in the drink package were specialty coffees, and gelato either in a cone or cup.
Dinning continued - Lunch served in the dinning rooms was from the menu with full service was preferred to the buffet.
Dinner - Our choice was late seating at 8:30 pm. We were seated in the Black Crab lower floor at a table for six. There were only four in our group and due to a mix up at booking, we were seated with another couple who provided endless entertainment to us. Always nice to leave with stories you can laugh about later.
Dinner choice was always great, food was well prepared and hot. Our waiter was the best, His name is Ferry Firdaus from Indonesia. I can't find enough good words to say about his service. We elected to tip him separately for such service. He worked non-stop regardless of where he was assigned.
Entertainment - The evening show was at 7:00 pm nightly in the Pantheon Theatre. These performers were top drawer and should be considered artists. The content was unique and ingenious. Sound and lighting enhanced the superbly performed routines by these professionals. If you go, do not miss the typewriter routine. The singers performances made the hair stand up on my neck. Exceptional! The other show not to miss is the Michael Jackson show, it was wonderful and ended too soon. The Wonderland show was amazing. The costumes and makeup were exceptional.
The animation team about the deck kept the energy level high.
Customer Service was efficient and very accommodating. Our cards became demagnetised a few times and replacement was done quickly and always with a smile.
Bar Service - We got to know several bar attendants and servers who were quick and knowledgeable. The wait for a drink was never too long.
The lounge entertainment included singers, duelling piano players and short performances by the theatre group which provided an excellent distraction before and after dinner and shows.
We visited the disco a few times and rocked to the great variety of music provided by a very personable DJ.
Pools/ Hot tubs - The main (lively pool) was always busy. The covered pool forward of the main pool provided a quieter area with ping pong and foosball tables. The equipment was available for a one half hour limit from the virtual entertainment area, a bit of walk from the tables. There as an infinity pool at the rear of the ship with hot tubs located on an upper deck. These areas were a bit a walk from the food and often less used. All pools were salt water with warm fresh water in the outdoor shower. Towels were easily available by the pool with your pass card or conveniently located on the dock during off ship excursions.
Excursions - Ours were pre-booked online. We chose excursions at every port. All were well organized with no delays and we felt completely safe. Notable was the security provided by ship personnel during debarking and embarking at Colon in Panama.
Onboard shopping/ specialty shops - Great buys with great variety of jewelry.
The Steakhouse was an extra cost dining experience not to be missed. Bonbininia (not sure of spelling) was a freshly made light donut desert. Awesome.
Suggestions for improvement: A late night adult comedy club in one of the smaller venues.
An under the ship web cam.
Negatives: When we arrived the baggage handlers at the port (probably not MSC personnel) demanded a tip.