This was my first time on a cruise since I was 14 and went with my parents. This was a whole new ballgame, as my wife and I (both in our early 30's) went with our almost 2 year old daughter.
- The daycare for tots was excellent. They were clean, well organized, and caring. It was great to have a few hours here and there for us parents to be off-duty. When possible, they would even use an underutilized meeting room on the top deck to set up a whole bunch of toys to turn it into a playroom. They really did offer a lot of things to make travelling with a 2 year old more enjoyable.
- The soft serve ice cream stand by the pool was used (and abused) by us, awesome little amenity
- The workout room, promenade, dining hall, activity area (flowrider, mini golf, etc) were all very nice. The whole ship in general was quite beautiful and well maintained.
- Travelling on a budget, we got a simple stateroom for the three of us. We expected tight quarters, and it was indeed tight, but it was still nice and the housekeeping service was good. They did nice touches like make animals out of the towels and incorporate things like my daughter's sunglasses, she thought it was really cool.
- We won $60 at the casino! Your results may vary.
- The food was OK. I'd highly recommend the curry dishes at Jade during dinner, those were excellent. Otherwise, all meals were fine but nothing to rave about.
- Waitstaff at the main dining hall was pretty good. They messed a few things up, and occasionally did annoying things like give our daughter all of her food right away, and then our food 15 minutes later...so by the time we were eating, our kid was done eating and all squirmy and wanting to get out of her seat.
- The H20 zone was really really cool, but the water was ice cold. Same goes for the pools. Either their heaters were broken or they had them turned all the way down. Everybody was complaining about this. The only warm water was in the hot tubs and the small kiddie pool for the really little kids (which, luckily, was where our daughter wanted to be).
- Room service is a nice feature, but they screwed up our order a couple times.
- Beer selection. The Hook & Claw pub in the promenade had an excellent selection, but everywhere else on the ship it was Bud/Coors/Miller, and all their European counterparts which sound fancy but are simply just more expensive for the same quality (Heineken, Stella, etc). One time I was able to get a Sierra Nevada by the pool, but then they ran out. I'm not about to spend $12 for one of those fruity thingies they were pushing, so I was stuck drinking macro-lite beer more often than I would have liked.
- The library was a cool feature with very comfortable furniture. We brought our own kid's books, so this wasn't a big deal, but I had a had to laugh at their "kid's selection". It was 6 books total, 2 of which were coloring books (with no crayons). Of the 4 non-coloring books, 2 were in Spanish and one in Russian. Again, not a problem, but kind of laughable.
- My wife dragged me to see Saturday Night Fever. I was actually quite impressed by the caliber of the dancers, but holy cow was it cheesy. I guess this shouldn't have surprised me.
- Boarding was a nightmare, but that can likely be attributed more towards the fact that our toddler was overtired and fussy. Regardless, the lines were incredibly long and slow moving. At every corner there was another logistical mess. Finally, once we had our sea passes, we were relieved to finally be able to board the ship. Then, as we turned a corner, we got ambushed by photographers who wanted to take our picture in front of some fake backdrop (none of us were in the mood to be photographed). There was little help finding our stateroom, and we were all at our wit's end. We finally got to our stateroom, and there was no mini-crib (which we had requested) for our daughter to take her overdue nap. We were then told it would be several hours before we could get one. This was a big disappointment.
- Elevators were painfully slow
- The first night we switched from Eastern to Central time, and they made this change very clear. On the 4th night they switched back, with virtually no announcement or signage. As a result, we were late to the ice skating show the next day and missed almost the whole thing. With all the touch screen directories and things, I would have thought they could have been more consistent and helpful with this. The logistics of de-boarding could have been more clearly illustrated as well.
- Man do they push the hand sanitizer on you. I get that the cruise lines are scared to death of bad PR surrounding a flu outbreak on a ship, but it got excessive. Plus I've read a lot about how those hand sanitizers probably do more harm than good. The hosts of the dining areas will pretty much physically box you out of entering until you squirt some of that stuff on your hands.