We are a couple in our mid 30s with a 2 and 5 year old. We picked this 8 day cruise leaving on May 9th because of a great last minute deal (booked 8 days in advance) and we had never been to any of the three ports (Aruba, Curacao and Turks and Caicos). We have been on 10+ cruises included Carnival, RCI, Norwegian and others. We went on the Liberty previously before the 2.0 overhaul.
What was great
1. I thought the Lido deck food was better than any Lido deck food on any boat I had ever been on. The Guy's burger joint was fantastic. Easily 10 times better than any cruise burger I had with great topping and sauce options (try A-1). The burrito/Taco place was also very good. My wife liked the Mongolian Wok, but the line was too long/slow for me. The biggest dislike was the pizza. It was ok, but it felt thin and not very much cheese. Perhaps more Italian/authentic. I still ate a slice here and there.
2. Dive in movies included Lego Movie my son loved, and other good selections with popcorn. In general I thought the Lido entertainment was really enjoyable.
3. Ports were great. Aruba was much more dry, arid and full of cacti. Not what I was expecting but nice beaches. Curacao was beautiful and our surprise favorite. Grand Turk was a ship owned island with a really nice pool and bar area. The DJ kept it lively, and there were a ton of young people from another Carnival group that felt like more a fun crowd than our own boat.
4. Comedy shows were funny. Definitely adult, and always very late.
What was ok
1. Kids area particularly for 2 year olds to 6 was a major factor of why we booked this. Our kids had a ton of fun, and liked being in the kids area. They gave you a cell phone to walk around the ship to call you which was nice. My five year old cried every time we took him out because he wanted to stay. My two year old cried the first few days when we put her in, but eventually got used to it and had a good time. We felt they called us too fast (7 minutes after drop out) and wouldn't let her cry or redirect her while she got used to it. I felt like the child workers were tired despite a very small number of kids on the boat this week, and didn't do a good job making eye contact and having positive conversations with the adults. They seemed to do well with the kids though. It was also strange that my 2 year one month old was in the same room as my son who is a few months from being six. We just happened to have the extreme ages for this group. We really missed a kids swim pool for our 2 year old like they had on NCL.
2. Formal dinning room. I thought the wait staff in the formal dinning was ok. They used my name a lot, but speed and attentiveness was just ok. They also didn't have a typical supporting waiter, so it wasn't clear how I should be getting my water filled, etc. I thought the dessert selection was sub-par. If you really loved chocolate you only had the chocolate melting cake every night. They had tons of unappealing fruit and random desserts, but there was nothing other than the melting cake that appealed to me and I usually like to try a lot of different things.
3. Main stage shows were just ok. Dancers were good. I felt like I had seen all the shows before 2-3 years ago and they needed something fresh. NCL had a broadway show Chicago that set a higher bar in my opinion. The guy who does the Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr show was ok. He was way bigger on Sammy, when I prefer Sinatra that he didn't have as much passion for.
What was poor
1. They kept assigning us to an 8:15 dinner with two young kids. We had a ton of older people on our boat, so everyone wanted to eat early. I know we booked the cruise late, but it took multiple interactions to finally get moved to 6 which was must better.
2. Our room was already ready when we arrived, but when we checked into our room the previous person had left their scrubbers in the shower. Also our comforter had a strange yellow stain on it under the luggage mat they put on your bed. After those initial corrections everything with room cleanliness was great.
3. The team under the cruise director was my least favorite of any cruise. Cruise director Brittany was great, but their 4-5 staff not so much. One person was retiring, and everyone else seemed cynical, jaded or going through the motions. Wes was friendly though.
4. Casino - The poker tournament was a $150 buy in and had only a few participants. On another boat (Royal Carribean maybe?) they had a buy in at $75 or $100 but had 30+ people in the tournament with live dealers which was much more exciting. This was a miss.
1. We parked offsite, and saved half the cost. The ship also came into a different dock than what it left at so everyone had to take a shuttle regardless. We thought this was a good value.
2. Debarkation was delayed, but was ok.
3. We didn't have issues with excessive smoke like several other reviews mentioned. We are sensitive to it, and it was fine.
4. We felt the formality of the dinning room was way down. Even for cruise elegant night very few suits. It is just going way more casual than it was 5 years ago in our opinion.
5. I love that they take off towels sitting on Lido for a while. It kills me to have tons of chairs claimed all day but not being used. Kudos for a great system.