Just back from our cruise and really loved it. We felt like we were away for three weeks instead of one. We learned a lot and will share some thoughts to help make your cruise a memorable one too. You first need to take with you a HUGE BOTTLE OF PATIENCE and ACCEPT THAT ALL THINGS MAY NOT BE PERFECT. There is a great deal of waiting and walking, more then we had anticipated. Once you realize you are "on vacation" it matters less about what time it is or what day it is.
The food is just ok most of the time and if crowds bother you, then you learn quickly where to go to avoid them. For instance, most people go to the buffet for breakfast so if you want a slower pace then eat at the Summer Palace especially on the last day. We suggest you spend the money for the ultimate dining package cus the really good food is in the specialty restaurants and the fees are worth it. Late in the cruise when we were tired of ho-hum food, we at Cagney's and the La Cucina. Lobster night was the second night held at the buffet. Worth the wait, cooked perfect and you can have as many as you want. Salad bar and fruit were always good, desserts and breads were terrible.
Liquor and wine were a huge expense for us. We did not know about the black out period for the ultimate drinking package that we wanted :o( so the bar bill was more then expected. We are wine drinkers and drink more then usual since we are on vacation. The less expensive wine is terrible so to drink a decent wine you pay $10 a glass for a 1/4 glass of wine. Later in the week we decided to buy a bottle to help cut the cost. The drinking package would have given us a chance to try different wines so next time we will not cruise without it.
The service, staff including our cabin steward were great, happy and friendly and can't do enough for you. It helps to tip your cabin steward a little up front and if you are not using it, ask him to empty the mini bar. The beds and linens so comfy and everything was very clean. Washy Washy, happy happy lady is a good idea with so many people on board.
We took three excursions. If you want to do something a little different and love to cook like we do, take the cooking tour in Cozumel. It was a blast and give it five stars all the way! We snorkeled on the other two excursions
The entertainment, like the food, was just ok. We did love Piano Man Jim and went to see his show three times. Getting on and off the ship was handled well and organized. The pool and hot tub areas are small and jammed all the time so splurge and get the spa package, $149 for the week, if you like to be pampered and enjoy peace and quiet.
The cruise is really what you make it. Stay informed and ask questions and you will have a great time.