To set the stage - I was traveling with 2 kids (ages 10 & 11) and my husband. This was our first ever cruise and we were some what nervous but were disappointed in areas we did not expect to be disappointed in.
So let's start with the good things...
CABIN: We had 2 cabins - a balcony for us and an interior cabin for the kids. We were on the 9th deck - so our balcony was not a glass wall - so was sort of useless, but not completely. The cabins were very nice and well appointed and our cabin attendant was wonderful - kept the rooms really clean, made little towel animals for the kids, and was really attentive to our comings & goings. The storage in the interior cabin was much better then that in the balcony room (They had 1 more cabinet then we did) - so things were a bit tight, but manageable.
SHOWS: We only skipped 2 shows, the opera & Sinatra nights - but the shows we did go to in general were all fabulous (we could have skipped Italian night). The sets, costumes, and performances were all wonderful.
BRUNCH IN THE GALAXY RESTAURANT: We pre-booked brunch here and paid extra to do so - and it was wonderful. They served us 5 appetizers before our main course - oysters, tuna tartare, smoked fish plate, frois gras, and then steak carpaccio (which we passed on because we were already so full and not huge fans of). Then we had our main course and some wonderful desserts. The service was very good, it was much quieter and laid back then any of the main dining areas and a wonderful way to spend the morning of our last sea day.
EXCURSIONS: In general the excurisions were good. Our first one in St. Maarten was cancelled because the seas were too rough, so that sort of stunk. We were in PR on X-mas day - so options were limited but we went up to the rain forest and we really enjoyed it. Our last shore day was on the private island in the Bahamas, and except for the fact that the burgers were raw - it was a great day and wonderful facilities on the island.
JAZZ/PIANO BAR: While the drink service was s....l....o....w - the performers were good, but most importantly they were funny and entertaining and our kids loved going there each night.
And now for the bad....
FALSE INFORMATION: First of all - no one knows what the heck they are doing there and the amount of false information they give you is really just unbelievable - from booking through the MSC call center, to the people at the reception area, to everyone....(1) we were told our keys would be able to be coded to work in both rooms - they could not do that...so we had to take one of the kids keys each night so we could go in their room if we needed to. (2) we were told we could choose between first seating at 6pm or second at 8pm. We choose second - which they then moved to 8:30pm but never made a point of telling you the change in the time when you checked in and our keys just said second seating. (3) we were trying to figure out a space for my daughter to work out as a week out of the gym mid-season is not great for her. On first attempt to go to they gym we were told it was 14 an older, which is fine, when we asked for a mat for her to use or a place where she could do some basic conditioning they said they would have a manager call us back and let us know...that was Sunday afternoon. On Monday I stopped by reception to see if I could get some info and was told the manager was sick. On Tuesday night they called to ask me if I had any documentation to show my daughter was a professional gymanst - I replied, no - I just need a space for her to workout that is safer then our cabin and a mat for her to use. On Thursday they called back and said she had permission to work out - I asked if that meant to borrow a mat or to use the gym facilities and was told to use the gym. On Friday my husband attempted to take her again and they yelled at him and sent him out with a mat. On Saturday we finally got off the boat.
POOLS: There are only 3 family pools for over 4000 people on the ship and maybe 5 or 6 spas. Let's just say that not only were seats hard to come by - but so was water.
SLIDE: The ONE slide is a joke - not only is it often closed, but my son said you have to scooch yourself through a lot because it is so flat that you don't actually slide.
KIDS CLUB: So I think the success of this is age dependent - for my kids - the age group was 7-11 and the activities were for 6-8 year olds. My kids refused to go - and I must say that I never saw a kid their age in the kids club EVER!!! So they hung out with us the whole time and they were amazingly well behaved so we still got to relax.
FOOD: Disgusting!!!! The first night we had to go to the buffet after dinner to eat rolls (because the buffet food is even worse). We did figure out that (1) we should order way more food then we needed in the hopes that something would taste good and (2) to stick to simple things like steak, salmon, and shrimp cocktail. But as bad as the food was - the service was worse - and to be honest, I don't think that is the fault of the wait staff as they were putting the food on the tables as soon as it made it to them. Our 8pm seating that was changed to an 830pm seating (and the 6pm seating was moved to 545pm) my guess is because they needed the extra time to get folks in and out. So...we would sit at 830pm - if we were lucky - and I do mean lucky we would have our one and usually only drink by 9pm, appetizers at 930pm and main course at 10pm...that is right folks - 10PM!!!! So - what we did was we would order a sandwich to room service for the kids before the show and then have a light snack between the show and dinner at the bar and then finally dinner at 10pm. Many nights my kids were literally falling asleep in their plates.
In general - the service on the ship was terrible - folks really had no reason to do their jobs with any sense of urgency and if it was not an interesting task (like asking people to stop smoking around the pools) they just would pretend they didn't understand you!