Prior to this cruise, I'd been on 23 cruises on ships ranging from 1200 passengers to 3000. Knowing this ship holds 6000 passengers, I wasn't quite sure what to expect from a crowd perspective. Check-in at the port was easy. Once on the ship, however, I was very overwhelmed. First things first, we had a very difficult time locating our cabin (turns out we were on the opposite side of the ship and could not get to the other side, easily). Our routine upon boarding is getting to the main buffet, but when we saw the line of people waiting, we immediately changed our minds and found somewhere else to eat. My concerns about crowds was getting confirmed. But by the next day, the crowds seemed to be under control, we could easily find our cabin and all was good. Only once in a while could we feel the "pains" of large crowds.
Pre-sailing: Personally, I did not like having to pay for and plan all of my week's activities prior to the trip. A lot of what I like about cruising is deciding spur of the moment what I want to do. But they strongly recommended making reservations for all the shows and dining, so we did so. And I could see why you need to do that. For one night without a show reservation, we waited in the stand-by line and did not get in.
There are tons of choices for dining. Many are included in the cruise fare, others are not. You need to check the daily paper to be reminded of which venues have a surcharge and which do not. I personally do not like to pay extra for the simple things like coffee, ice cream or Johnny Rockets. I can go to my local mall and do that. So, I just chose not to visit those places. Our dining room service was very good. We had such good service the first night, that we requested the same servers all week long. That was not a problem, it just requires a reservation.
We tried various places for breakfast which was a nice change of pace from eating in the main buffet every morning. The food overall was decent, but nothing to write home about. I've had better on other cruise ships.
Shopping: I did like that there were a few more choices of shops on this ship, other than the standard liquor, gift shop, perfume and jewelry. But one thing we noticed in the standard gift shop is that they were very pushy trying to sell you stuff when you were just trying to pay for your items.
Entertainment: The shows were quite decent. Even though you had reservations for the shows, it was good to get in line early if you wanted choice seats. But I think almost anywhere would be fine in most of the venues.
After the initial boarding and being overwhelmed, we took our time and learned the layout of the ship. Overall, it was pretty easy to get around. They have electronic maps throughout the ship and helpful signs to help you get around. There are plenty of public restrooms, which was very helpful. Signage to remind you of FWD and AFT, Port and Starboard was plentiful and oftentimes, cleverly done. The stairwells were very clearly marked as to what floor you were on. Even the elevator floors had the current day of the week displayed!!
One thing lacking, for me, was an overall "cruise ship" feel. While this ship is state of the art, large, and modern, it did not feel like a cruise ship. I can see this as an advantage for some who are leery of getting seasick, but for me it was somewhat of a negative. I like to walk up and back through the ship, look out at the ocean and many times just sit alongside the corridor to read and basically relax. I was not able to experience this on this ship. To sit back and read, I had to go out on deck, which I did not always prefer since it was very hot and humid or find a quiet place in an eating area. There were days where I did not even see the ocean.
Summary: I think this ship would be great for a Transatlantic or any itinerary with a lot of sea days. The ship is very stable and has tons of choices for everything (dining, entertainment, activities). But for a standard, traditional cruise, for me, I would not go out of my way to seek out this ship.