I will admit that I was little worried about this cruise given some recent negative reviews here. Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised.
We flew in the night before and stayed at the Crown Plaza. It took a little while to catch the shuttle to the hotel as it seemed everyone flew in at the same time. Once there, check-in was a breeze and we found the room very clean and comfortable. The onsite restaurant, kiki's, was adequite for dinner and breakfast. We utilzed the hotel shuttle to the port, which is literally down the street.
Embarkment was a breeze. Maybe 10 minutes. We hit the windjammer for some lunch and it was announced staterooms would be available at 1pm.
Note- my ratings are based on comparible priced criuses. A 5-star rating does not equite to a 5-star hotel. I find it humorous when people give a $100/night hotel 1-star based on their experience at a $500/night hotel. Anyway....
We had an older crowd on this cruise. No complaints, just an observation. We had a blast, and many were more active and stayed up later then us!
Dining- MDR was the only disappointment we had. Even accepting the fact food is not the same today as it was 5 years ago, the entrees served were not very good. We founds the soups excellent, apps very good, entrees poor, and desserts poor. On most days you could find a better dessert at Windjammer.
Lunch was at Windjammer most days. Park Cafe also has excellent food, but it's the same every day. There is limited seating in Windjammer, but we never had an issue finding a seat.....although we did eat outside most days.
Breakfast was split between windjammer and MDR. I had the french toast every time we ate in the MTR and obviously loved it. Windjammer was hit and miss.
We hit Izumi 3 times and chops once (also order filet from MTR due to above mentioned entree issues). I recommend both.
Service- Here is where the highlights were. Every employee we encountered with the exception of one MTD waiter, was absolutely fabulous. I should have written down names as now I can't remember the exact spelling. Our stateroom attendant, Anand, was like a ninja. Always there but never seen. I swear he watched the elevators for us to arrive so he could open the door for us with a big smile. Mytime dining host Ivan was excellent at his job and we never waited for a table. Remeson at Izumi was a pleasure, and we asked for him every time we visited. R Bar is amazing. The bartender, Iman(Brain freeze on name), was an absolute artist with martinis. He had all kinds of vodka he infused himself and created literal works of art. A must try. schooner bar was also very good. Drink prices ranged from $6-11.
We didn't hit every show but found the comedians pretty good. The quest was fun as always. Pools were a little chilly but not overly so.
The real reason we chose this cruise was it's ports of call. We did the jolly pirates in Aruba and had fun. Did some diving in Bonaire(of course?). In Grenanda we stepped out of our confort zone and let one of the locals show us around. We had a blast and hit local eateries for food and drinks and took local buses for transportation. Never a problem and we gave him a big payment, which I'm sure is all he will receive for a week or more. Guys name was Duke, Many locals greeted him as Duke of Earl as we walked around. Barbasos was my favorite port. Probably the most industrialized of the islands we visited. We met up with some locals at the Crossfit affiliate (wife was competing) and then one them showed us around the island and had a beer at Berts. Note- we visited on Sunday and most things are closed. St lucia was beautful. Labadee, well, is Labadee. If you've been there once you'll probably just stay on the ship the next visit.
We found the ship very well maintained. We had smooth sailing the entire cruise. At house we sleep with an air cleaner so the aft room provided a nice white noise from the engines. The shower is tiny but we managed.
Recommendations- R bar martini, Izumi, Park Cafe for lunch and a cookie at least once. Egg station at windjammer for better eggs, MDR breakfast, Chops filet anywhere (I'd rather pay an extra 15 per night up front for this kind of qualitiy), the quest, if you plan to lay out in the solarium get there very early or later in the day to get a chair, coconut cookies, don't overpack, and have a great time!