Background:Family of 4 including 13 yr old dtr and 17 yr old son. This was my 5th cruise, 4 CCL and 1 RCCL.
Transportation/Embarkation:Flew into FLL because it was much cheaper than Miami. Rented a midsize car from Dollar for $35 using the "KISS" promo code. Spent the night in the Hampton Inn (very nice and clean and had a great free breakfast) near the Miami airport and returned the car the next morning to MIA lot. They provided free shuttle to the port. Arrived at 11am even though they tell you they don't board until 1230. We were given give a card for zone 8 as we entered the line and by the time we finished getting registered they called our zone to board. We were on the ship by 1140. They give you a sheet with helpful info that I recommend you read. We looked around the ship a little then went to Emilies for lunch which was very good. Tried to get into cabin early at 1pm but they wouldn't let us.
Cleanliness/Maintenance: I thought the ship was beautiful and very clean. I was disappointed in how dirty some of the deck chairs were. And many of them were broken or missing the piece that elevates the head. Was also very disappointed that 2 of the 5 hot tubs were broken the entire week. The open ones were always full. We also had a problem with the answering machine on the phone in our cabin not working. Called guest services once, told room steward, and went to guest services twice before it was fixed 20 hours later.
Cabin/Room Steward: Booked Guaranty Balcony and was upgraded to 8C. Had 2 twins,sofa sleeper and bunk. All of the beds were very comfortable. Pleased with size of room and storage space. Great location near aft of the ship. Was about 4 rooms from stairs/elevators that went right up to the buffet and pool areas. They provide nice robes(seen people wearing them all over the ship) and beach towels you can use at pool or even take off ship on excursions. They replace them each day. But will charge you $22 dollars if you lose them. You can also purchase new ones, I would have bought one if I had room in suitcase as they are definitely worth it. They also have shampoo and body wash in shower and a complimentary razors, toothpaste,Tylenol PM, ect in bathroom. Room steward was nice and did great job of keeping room clean and made great towel animals. Was not as friendly as some I have had in the past. Seemed upset if we were not out of room early and told us one day at 10am if we were not out by 12, he would not be back til night time. I know they have to be done by 12, but he was a little rude, as we had 2 hours. Did not call us by name at any time. Also, on the last day we were told we had to be out of cabin by 830. At 740am he knocked on the door lightly a couple times and before we could get to the door opened it and started to come in. He told us we had to be out by 8am but when I questioned it, he said 830 was ok. The balcony was beautiful. However, the lounge chairs are old and need to be replaced. Was the only thing in the room that looked old.
Entertainment: The entertainment was good. We especially enjoyed the Karaoke Bar. They audition people the first few nights and have a final contest on Wednesday on the big stage. Tried the casino but did not win anything, didn't see many other people winning either. Also tried Bingo without any luck. But they did give away some nice money prizes. The big screen TV on the Lido deck was nice. Enjoyed the fact that you didn't have to go inside to hear information like the debarkation program as they showed it on the Lido TV so you could continue swimming or tanning.
Kids Activities: My daughter was in Circle C and I was very pleased with how well it was organized. She loved the director Natasha. They did alot of cool things. My son was in Club O2 which is a really neat club with the bar serving soft drinks, a dance floor and a lounge to just hang out. They also have a huge arcade. Both of the kids had a great time and stayed busy the entire week. They made alot of good friends that they will probably keep in touch with for a long time.
Pictures: They take pictures every night and they did a really good job of it with various backgrounds. They have signs saying they may take the pics down each night but ours were there all week. At $22 for a 8X10, I would recommend waiting to see which ones are best before buying.
Dining: We requested early, traditional seating. They gave us late. At registration, they told us to go to the dining room at 130pm and they would change it. We just happened to walk by at 1pm and they were already doing this. They very willingly changed our time and honored our request for window table. We ate dinner in the dining room everynight and the food and service was great. Only made it to breakfast in dining room 1 day and it was good. Did buffet for breakfast rest of week as well as lunches. Did not find the lines to be as bad as I have heard. They have food everywhere, there one buffet in the very back, plus another buffet right in front of it with one side serving made to order stir fry. They also have a window on the side with deli sandwiches and on the other side there is mexican food. Then there is the Fish and Chips upstairs and grills next to the food. We also hit the pizzeria and grill late night on the very aft part of lido deck. Have great burgers,chicken sandwiches, fries, etc. There are 3 areas with ice cream/frozen yogurt. Many times they were either closed or one machine was broke or empty. We only did room service once as there was so much food on the lido deck.
Excursions: We arrived in Puerto Rico at 5pm so decided not to book excursion. After walking off the pier, there were all kinds of people offering tours for $20 for 2 hours which was longer than we wanted since it would be dark. Then we found one for $10 for 1 1/4 hours. It was great. Nice smaller, clean tour bus with a great driver who gave a great tour. In St. Thomas we took the BOSS excursion which was $122 for 3 hours. It was alot of fun, you ride underwater scooters with your head in a bubble. You only were on it for about 30 minutes. You were able to snorkel while waiting you turn. The staff of that tour were awesome, very helpful and concerned about everyones safety. We had a guest who was confined to a wheelchair and they went out of their way to ensure he had a great time. We also took the Sky Ride which was $18, we had a beautiful view but thought it was a bit pricey but would still recommend it. In St. Maarten we took a taxi into town, was $8 round trip. Would recommend you take the water taxi instead, only $6 for as many trips as you want. We went to the Excursion talks and the Shopping Talks. The shopping specialist made a recommendation that we get copies of our passport at Guest services and take that offship instead of the original. When we went to do that, Guest services said that we should NOT do that as we would need original to go through immigration.
Miscellaneous/Suggestions: Do bring the power strip for your room as their is only 1 outlet on the vanity. I would bring a cup with a lid to fill up with water, tea, lemonade etc. so you can carry it around or bring it back to the cabin as the plastic cups available are kind of small. Do try to walk around the ship alot, even on the last day I was finding areas I hadn't seen. If you want to use spa services, wait til end of cruise, they offer specials. I signed up on Wednesday to enter a "drawing" where you could bid for a service on Friday. Your bid had to be at least 50% of the original fee. I bid $100 for a $195 massage and was "picked" to receive it on Thursday evening. Funny thing, 3 other people I talked to also "won". Then they announced on Friday that all Spa services were 50% off. If you need Tylenol, Aspirin, or Sea Sick pills, they are free and readily available just outside the clinic area.
Debarkation/Trip back home: Alot of people chose self assist where you carry your luggage off yourself. They were letting those people off by 8am. We did the traditional way and put our luggage out the night before. We were in Zone 7 and they announced we could get off before 9am. We walked right off and found 3 of our 4 luggages right away but had to wait 20 minutes for the other one, was getting worried but it showed up. We handed our customs form to the agent and walked out. They did not even check our passports. Our shuttlebus for Dollar Rental was just across the street right outside the door. Drove back to FLL and was in the airport before noon.