Our family was on the same cruise and had an excellent time. Lots of positives and only a few improvements would make the cruise outstanding. But understanding to economic climate and budget constraints of doing more with less, I was very happy. Just had to readjust my expectation level from the good old days of cruising.
Buffet - I love the change in buffet. It is definitely a positive move in reducing the spreading of germs. The usual sneeze guards plus an additional vertical guard are an excellent addition. So it helped prevent folks from picking and digging through the trays and only pick from the front. Many dishes were pre-portioned in small dishes and baskets, very much like tapas or dim sum. Again this helped keep things to be more clean and reduce the number of people touching the same serving spoon. There were always helpful attendants ready to help serve something that was tough to reach, never had a problem. Another benefit was looking around the dining room, there looked to be a lot less waste of leftover food on trays. Soups, oatmeal, and grits were served by the buffet attendant, so sometimes there was a 5 min wait but never excessive. Breads were portioned and wrapped in paper, and dessert was always served by an attendant.
I noticed that the fruit was usually self scoop, I actually would recommend also having it put in bowls since the watermelon always looked crushed from people digging.
Pizza service was a little slow but the attendant was excellent,I would place my order and go get my drink. And by the time I came back she had set aside my order for me to pick up.
Kids loved the create your own pasta station. The attendant was super friendly and even helped me encourage the kids to add veggies. Loved her!
Grill- would have liked to have turkey and veggie burgers already made like the hot dogs and hamburgers to encouraged healthy eating choices. Husband and I like veggie burgers but because of the wait for cook to order we often chose the faster option of red meat. Would have loved the option of grilled chicken for burger or even to too a salad.
A must try is the buffet located in the solarium. Healthy options for soups and salads. They also had a selection of grilled mango and pineapple topped with honey yogurt. So yummy.
I love the new change especially seeing so many people not use the hand sanitizer before going into the buffet. I hope they implement this for all celebrity and RCL ships.
Lounge chairs- Looks like the ship also got brand new lounge chairs. The pool attendant said they were very expensive and only got them a couple weeks ago. His face looked so sad when we saw a bunch of young kids running down the deck using the lounge chairs as mini trampolines. My husband and parents loved the lounge chairs so much they were trolling the internet to buy some for our house.
Dining room- Our family also realized after trying anytime seating on RCL and select seating on Celebrity that it's just not for us. The service level between main seating and select seating is dramatic. Prepaid tipping has made service levels extremely poor in the dining room. I remember cruising before prepaid tipping when the assistant waiters from main dining would keep an eye out for you during breakfast and lunch the buffet and offer assistance and get a warm greeting. Needless to say, that is long gone. In select dining, the food was excellent. The wait times between courses was ridiculously slow. On the last night we waited 45 min to get served dessert. And since we ordered multiple starters, the waiter placed all the starters on the table at once. Very different from the main dining where the waiter would have you finish each starter and then place the next one down when you finished. We like to eat family style so it wasn't a huge problem, but I could see how others might feel it is a problem.
The specialty restaurants were excellent. Food was excellent and so was service. The only annoying part was I had tried to change my reservation time to an earlier time and they said the time was not available. But upon entering the restaurant, there were empty tables everywhere. So definitely not a lack of tables but rather a lack of staffing to provide service. Normandie is a must do. Qsine is a cute concept, but I would rather they focus on the food rather and the over the top presentation.
Entertainment - The shows were good. The cruise musical productions were excellent. The special guest was ok, just not what I was interested in. My kids loved watching the DJ and percussionist every night before bedtime from Cafe Bacio and eating a 2nd dessert. The pianist was awesome! The afternoon pool DJ was fun. One afternoon he mixed together a string of pop country songs and it was fun.
Pools- Pools and hot tubs were fun and kids loved it. Only complaint is that there were a bunch of old ladies that liked standing in the kids pool that kept telling all the kids to stop splashing or being too loud. I finally had to tell them that this was the only kids pool on the ship and that they can go soak in the other 2 adult only pools and told my 6 yr old and his friends they could do cannonballs to make my point. They left and I was cheered by the other moms and dad's at the pool. Of course then the cannonballs stopped. Safety first. ;)
Fitness- I wanted to sign up for spin classes but by the time I got there to sign up around 1pm, the list was full and wait list was 10 deep. I would have loved to do the spin classes since I spin 3-4 days a week at home.
We had a great time and would do this cruise again. The weather was beautiful.