About my traveling group - 3 couples in their mid-30s (one couple had one in the oven). We all stayed mid-ship in family suites with a small balcony after getting upgraded from interior rooms (thank goodness b/c I'm never going back to an interior room). 2 of the couples got the ultimate drink package. Everyone is very mobile and active and we like to do many different activities. We have all been on about 4-5 different cruises each throughout our years. We aren't heavy cruisers but have our share of experience.
Embarking - One couple arrived by bus via port authority, one couple by train via penn station and the other couple by plane via JFK. None of us had problems finding one another once we arrived in the terminal and embarkation was a breeze.
Bar Service - I go to this next b/c we hit the pool bar before our room was ready (have to take advantage of that drink package). The pool area had a plethora of servers - you will not go thirsty. Better off getting your More
drink from a server rather than the bartenders. Larry was by far our favorite server. In fact, overall I thought the bartenders and servers were blah - Larry was the exception. They were not mean, but they were not very personable (and we gave extra tip at the beginning to see who would befriend us and Larry was the only one who accepted the challenge).
Ultimate Drink Package - Worth it? If you are a drinker. If you get the UDP and are not a drinker the UDP will turn into a drinker. Here's the deal; pretty much every cocktail, wine, beer is included. If you are unsure, just ask the bartender/server, they'll tell you. I am not sure if the self-serve wine dispensers were actually included, but there is no real sense in using them. There is a bar around every corner and you can get whatever you want. We made excellent use of the UDP and made sure we exceeded our limit. Drinking is not a problem for us - but I can tell you we wouldn't have drank as much if we didn't have the UDP. We wanted to make it was worth it.
Crowds (Overall) - There were 4k people on the ship and 2k crew members. It was very busy pretty much everywhere you went, but doable every where you went. I think the elevators were the most crowded all the time. Let me tell you how many people out there lack elevator etiquette. Come on people what are we here. In general, it was pretty crowded wherever you went and we may have noticed the crowds more being with 6 people b/c it's harder to find 6 seats together, but we managed and it was fine.
Pools/Water Features - Adult only pool is a nice feature, but very crowded and can be great for people watching. The kids people is very nice. We didn't have our kids with us, but I'm sure they would have loved it. The slides are a very nice touch. I could ride those all day long. No lines ever for the slides. Maybe because they were a bit intimidating. The "water feature" in H2O (the adult only area in the aft) was being re-tiled during our cruise. Huge bummer b/c I was so looking forward to hanging out back there. H2O wasn't really crowded. It was full most of the day, but you could always find a seat. With 6 people it's hard to find chairs and seats together, but we made do and almost always never had a problem. The hot tubs were probably 98 degrees at best and were always crowded. I always went first thing in the am before breakfast and there was never anyone in there. I'm an early riser (about 6am).
Fitness center/jogging track - The 1st day it was soo crowded. No machines anywhere and there were about 50 people on the jogging track. After the 1st day, no crowds. I guess people make a promise to themselves that they'll exercise on vacation and then they just say F-it. The fitness center is small in comparison to the size of the ship, but they have very nice machines. I wanted to get in on the yoga classes but they filled up quick so I never got in.
Spa - We did a day pass on the last day at sea. Everyone else in our group napped from about noon-4, so my husband and I decided to just walk in, get a pass, and check out the spa. It was lovely. The thermal pool and heated beds were very nice. The view is spectacular and it's very relaxing there. The thermal pool is hotter than the hot tubs, go figure. Again, it was crowded but not overly crowded.
Other Activities - The ropes course was really cool. Barely any wait time. The mini-golf was fun, but the course is small. They have some pool tables and games in O'Sheehans. We saw Rock of Ages one night, that was surprisingly good. I did not have any expectations for this show, but it was pretty good. Burn the Floor was really entertaining as well. The dueling pianos was our favorite in Headliners. The Jazz club was great - if you like jazz these guys are pretty good. I don't listen to much jazz so take my opinion for what it is worth. The late night parties in H2O were always really fun. We went to the white party (i.e. Glow Party) the one night and it wasn't really what I expected. I expected more glowing or lights or something.
Casino - Smokey and slightly crowded. They need better ventilation in there b/c the smoke fills Ocean Place. It's a shame b/c Le Bistro is right below and the "patio" seating is so cute, it's a shame they have to smell the smoke from above. I can see how it would be bothersome for people sensitive to smoke. I don't like smoke but I can handle it. We had a gambling night with our group and we were all able to sit down at the $5 BJ table eventually. There were a few guys trying to get a texas hold-em' tournament started but they couldn't find enough takers.
Restaurants - Longest wait time was 5 minute. We did not make reservations ahead of time. Freestyle cruising should be stress-free, and it is, if you let it be. If Teppanyaki was full one night we just went to the Manhattan room. There are plenty of dining options, you won't go hungry - trust me. I'll go through our dining each night since most people care about food.
Day 1 - Garden Cafe (lunch) - pretty good, lots to choose from. Ocean Blue (Dinner) - best dinner we had all week. It's worth the cover charge (for the bread alone).
Day 2 - Garden Cafe (breakfast) - pretty good, lots to choose from, but the omelette station gets really busy and people love butting in line. Washy Washy Happy Happy. O'Sheehan's (Lunch) - bar food was okay, service good, fun time. Taste (Dinner) - really good and no wait. Their menu changes slightly daily. I do believe Taste and Savor have the same menus.
Day 3 - Savor (breakfast) - the service was really good and the breakfast was really good. We should have eaten breakfast in here more often, but again we were always looking for a quick bite. Garden Cafe (lunch) - Washy Washy Happy Happy. Manhattan Room (Dinner) - service was terrible. We went into dinner here at about 9pm b/c we went to Rock of Ages early show. When we asked for coffee at the end of the meal the server looked at us like we are asking for his 1st born.
Day 4 - Taste (brkfst) - love it here for breakfast. Garden Cafe ?? I can't remember what we did for dinner this night. Probably Garden Cafe.
Day 5 - Garden Cafe (brkfst) - Washy Washy Happy Happy. Uptown Grill (Dinner) - Spectacular sunset from here. It was mexican night and we love mexican food. It's a pretty good buffet. Nice change from the Garden Cafe.
Day 6 - Garden Cafe - breakfast is starting to get boring. La Cucina (Dinner) - Great service and really good food. The pizza here is far superior to the 24/7 pizza.
Day 7 - Moderno (breakfast) - Small buffet, it was okay. Only went b/c we were bored with Garden Cafe. Garden Cafe (lunch) - WWHH. Teppanyaki (dinner) - the cooks are pretty good and really fun. The food was okay and they give you lots of it.
Day 8 - Home :(
Stateroom - We were starboard and we docked into Bermuda Starboard. So we had views of the surrounding dockyard. Pretty cool. We got upgraded to a family mini-suite. Lots of storage space and the King Bed was a nice surprise. Our room steward was the nicest guy on the ship (except Larry). We made sure to tip him extra. I swear its like pulling teeth to get a smile out of these people. Maybe they are just really exhausted. I always try to get everyone the benefit of the doubt b/c you don't know what is going on in their life. The double sinks in the bathroom were awesome. Bring Febreeze!! I cannot emphasize that enough. With all the food you'll be eating, there will be lots of "you know what".
Overall - loved the ship, it is gigantic. So if you have trouble getting around it may not be for you. Like I said the elevators are always packed and people lack elevator etiquette so you might get quite frustrated. Good news - there is something for everyone to do. There is no lack of entertainment, food, and drink. We did have perfect weather every single day so that always help. I would definitely cruise to Bermuda again on this ship and only this ship.
Tip - bring your wallet b/c Bermuda is really expensive and if you can swing it bring your own beach umbrella and chairs. The best beaches in Bermuda don't typically have facilities and beach rentals. If they do it is $$$$$$. Less