I am not one to usually write reviews, unless something is so amazing or disasterous that I really feel people would benefit. This is one of those times. Let me just say that I have been on 8 cruises. I am thankful this was not my first one, or I likely would not ever have taken a second. Never have I been so disappointed.
I personally did not enjoy the "Freestyle" Cruising. I missed the formal night dinners. I missed getting to be treated special as the wait staff gets to know you every night of the cruise. I miss the daily shows. I missed being able to decide at the last minute if I wanted to go to a show, rather than be told it is "sold out". But that is just personal preference and I can see how there are others who would really enjoy the different atmosphere. Instead I will focus on specific issues that I think others might want to be aware of.
1)We are non-smokers. And are very sensative to smoke. We booked a balcony cabin. Paid extra for it. We were never able to enjoy it.......except for 20 minutes one afternoon. This is because our neighbors lived on theirs puffing away constantly. We inquired at the front desk if there was anything that could be done. Their attitude was that the smokers paid for that balcony and had every right to smoke out there. Well what about us? We paid for it too, and had some expectation that we might be able to use it without getting sick.
2)Room layout- yes, the toilet and the shower really are in the entry way. Yes there is a curtain. Yes it was somewhat tolerable. But YES- my teenage son did have the horror of coming back to the cabin, popping open the door to the horror of us both as I was standing just outside of the shower drying off. I am sure we all wish that wouldn't have happened. Is the room ok for a couple......yes. Is it comfortable for those who don't really want to see each other naked, or very clear images of whomever is sitting on the pot? Absolutely not. Don't do it! There are so many other ships...............
3)Gluten Free- I am gluten intolerant. I notified the cruiseline months in advance. I filled out their paperwork as I was told. I checked in at the beginning of the cruise. I was told I could eat nothing at the buffets. I had no help. I had confused waiters. I had bland food. I ordered ahead of time a bbq rib dinner at the "pay" restaurant Cagney's. I was given a slab of plain ribs. No flavor, so sauce. I know that you can make a rough bbq sauce with ketchup, vinegar, and sugar. No attempt was made. In fact I was making such a fuss with my family that they thought I was being over dramatic..........until I made them try my food. They were silent on the subject after that. I guess it was just so disappointing because other cruise lines (Royal Carribean) have bent over backward. And this one acted as if it were going to be accommodating.......even going as far as giving me a survey of what I like to eat, and then everyone on board either knew nothing about gluten free and what it meant, or acted like it was such a bother.
Service in general- we never had anyone who seemed to go above and beyond. In fact it was difficult to even get friendly let alone exceptional. The ship's layout felt completely like it was done in a way, not to make a better cruise for us, but how to maximize space for them........how to cram more "pay" opportunities, cabins etc. The common areas were either packed, or unavailable for our use. We never did get to the photograph place when it was open. Nor was their any price or hours information making it worth figuring out when to come back. The hottubs closed at 11p.m.- a time when we would have really enjoyed winding down in them. Bigger was not better. It just meant more walking between things.
Entertainment was so-so. Not nearly the amount of activities that we have experienced on HAmerica, Carnival, and Royal. They had some things, but just not really much to choose from.
Teen Program- This was excellent. I don't know what it is that they did up there, but my son and all the kids who hung with him seemed to have activities galore, and enough guidance that they really had a great time.........with plenty of free time to wander on their own.
The bed.........super comfortable! Thank goodness.
I would really shop around before trying this ship. Certainly wasn't a good match for us.