I traveled with 3 girlfriends out of Barcelona and we were pleasantly surprised. I was hesitant to book after finding few reviews and quite a bit of negativity here on the boards on all aspects of both the line & ship. I have to say, we booked it for the value and tried not to set expectations too high, but were thrilled. We booked two premium balcony cabins that were very spacious and extremely clean. Our room attendants remembered our names from the first meeting (even though we don't go by what's on our passports) and always made sure we had everything we needed, including finding robes for all four of us, and allowing us to pass chairs over the side all to one balcony so we could sit together at night since due to the wind they couldn't open them to adjoin like the booking agent said we could.
Embarkation was a breeze, although you don't get your sea passes there and it's not very nice, with no computers or fancy waiting areas. We were on board and in our cabins earlier than promised. We all bought the drink package & had assigned dining, which was great. Both our waiters were very attentive and brought us things to try without asking. The wine selection was great and they kept bottles coming if needed. The food in MDR was as good as I've had on Celebrity, Princess & Holland. I will say that the buffets lacked much variety, but were always clean, with fresh food, and some of the best pizza I've encountered on a ship.
We seemed to be some of the only American women on board, but they did seat us at dinner between two parties that spoke English, one from UK and the other Australia. It seemed the crew all enjoyed practicing their English with us, then again, we're from the South, they likely had fun listening to us.
I'll post about our excursions on the port of call boards, as we did all of those on our own and not through the ship. My only shocker, especially after the Concordia tragedy, was the lack of enforcement of the safety drill. We were given red cards along with our sea passes in our cabins, and our room attendants mentioned it to us, so we took our life jackets to our assigned station in the main theater. After more than 15 minutes of sales pitches in several different languages, pushing the spa, shops & shore excursions, we left. We did receive a letter on the 3rd day that it was mandatory that we attend the one as we were leaving Italy, our last evening on board, and we had to listen to the entire drill while packed like sardines at our respective muenster stations in all 5 languages. They took our red cards from us at this drill and didn't leave port until we were done. I can see how confusing it could become with so many different sets of instructions if there was a true emergency.
Only truly negative thing we found, was the unfriendliness of the concierge desk. We had 3 occasions to need them, along with picking up our passports the last morning. The ladies there acted as if you were a bother to them each time we stopped by.