Okay, so this was my 5 friends’ and my first cruise, so everything was sparkly and new to us, and we were ready to be pleased! That being said we still had some ups and downs, but overall it was a vacation to remember! The rooms were small, as expected (being poor college students we had three girls to an inside state room), but we ended up with plenty of shelf and closet space to unpack all our bags (we had been expecting to have to leave most of our clothing in our suitcases under the bed).
I actually volunteered for the sofa bed, and found it comfortable, though it got in the way of anyone trying to enter the room, or go to the bathroom. Also a word of caution- if you fold up the foot of the bed to give a walk way after it has been turned down VERY sharp edges stick out- we all are sporting black and blue marks to prove it. The bathroom easily held all of our cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, etc that girls have to bring with them. We ended up with rather poor service in terms of the room steward. They only turned down my bed twice, towards the end of the 7 days, after we had finally given up calling the reception desk at 12pm every night, and just opened it up ourselves. It wasn't that big a deal, but the other room had their 3rd bed turned down every night- which lets me know our steward just wasn't doing their job. we also had one night when nothing was turned down- but we do keep rather strange hours, and the steward did knock on the door a couple of times while we were there, so I forgive them that.
In terms of Freestyle dining, we loved it. We never had to wait more than 15 minutes to be seated, even if we were just out of a show- and since in our area it isn't unusual to wait an hour or more to be seated at a restaurant, we didn't really mind. We had a rather poor waiter the first night in the Four Seasons restaurant (again, poor students that we are we didn't eat at any of the cover restaurants) and the second night we ate at the Seven Seas with a much better waiter, but he was brand new and rather nervous (serving 6 pretty girls probably didn't help much ) after that we ended up with Simon...... Simon was the best waiter I have EVER had, and I have been lucky enough to eat in many fine internationally acclaimed restaurants.
We made things as difficult as possible for him, each ordering a different number and combination of courses "can I have this entree as an appetizer sized portion, AND that appetizer, plus the salad, no soup, and that entree" or "No Appetizers, but soup, salad, and this appetizer in an entree portion" or "give me one of everything" and he never missed a beat- 3 courses, 6 courses everyone different, the food was exquisitely timed in its arrival, so you were never the only one eating (even if you were the only one with that course), the food was warm, he was at your elbow with the black pepper or the parmesan cheese in a second, he NEVER had to ask "who gets the steak and who ordered the pasta?" We had all the proper utensils without ever noticing him replacing a fork or removing an unused soup spoon. He was amazing. Needless to say we requested him every night after that, and were always able to sit with him. We all felt like such princesses- we had all the male dining staff doting on us (for us, going on a cruise without too many other spring breakers was a plus!).
The food was very good, with a good selection- though occasionally a few things were over done, which is understandable when you are feeding that many people at once. We ate at the buffet every day at lunch (one day being seated for lunch was enough to realize we couldn’t handle all that food AND dinner!) and I quite enjoyed it – especially the desserts! It was still buffet fare, but several notches up from dorm food!
All the stops were wonderful- we did our own thing rather than book a cruise tour, except the last day when we booked a Rainforest bus tour which worked out perfectly, since they dropped us off at the airport at about 3:30 pm and we checked our bags then headed back into San Juan to while away the hours before our 11pm flight. Of the islands we all liked St Maarten (we went to the French side and ate in a beautiful little café) and Antigua the best (we managed to hit 3 of the purported 365 beaches). On the last day we took an NCL tour of El Yunque which worked out wonderfully since they delivered our bags to the airport for us and we were able to check in for our 11pm flight and then leave the airport to explore old San Juan for the evening- what a wonderful town!! We danced the nights away in the Cabaret club and managed to see several of the shows- Sea Legs Cirque was as awesome as everyone says! Overall it was a really phenomenal trip, and we are already planning our reunion!