SHIP INFO: The ship is a classic looking mid size liner that has close to 2000 passenger capacity. The decor again fits the ship, very tasteful but not over the top; the ship is classy not flashy. Luggage got to the room promptly rooms were always clean.
PUBLIC AREAS: The public areas are set up well and it is easy to find your way around, areas were not very crowded, although the space adjacent to the buffets were a little tight. This cruise to the Caribbean had a good mix of ages, still older average age than Carnival, but there were people in the club, bars & casino at night late, the lounges were dead though after 10pm; the Library or Cafe Lounge (internet) were together with a coffee bar (shots too -closed way to early 9or10pm) upstairs at the very top, complete with full magazine, newspaper, games & DVD library and large lounge area with grouped living room setups; this area opened up the Crowsnest area with grand piano (complete with player & singers); there is a circle bar there. All along the arched glass front of the full spans of the deck are captain packard style lounge chairs facing out and a continuous couch under the glass - great place to relax after dinner with a drink or card game - under used though. Shopping areas on the ship seemed to be lacking for the caliber of ship. The main theatre was large and seemed to handle the crowds with a great stage set up.
POOL: There is lots of deck to sun in & covered areas (for fee) that you can have for the day. Some did not like them, but they have there use; some wanted to be on deck for the afternoon but had their fill of sun for the day -so they took a cabana; also good for families with someone wanting to escape the sun for a bit but can see the rest of the family at the pool & could keep everything there instead of all over the deck. The pool was decent for the ship size & crowd, there always seemed to be deck chairs available anywhere, even by the pool or main sunning deck aft.
ACTIVITIES: There are some traditional cruise competition activities - but not overboard. Also art auction, bingo, spa, food demo/classes with high end chefs like the Food Network almost; wine tasting was nice - worth the little charge. Did not gamble, but did take a walkabout and the place was packed most nights, even after midnight it was still hopping, and after 1 & 2am too. The entertainment was good - no it is not Broadway - it is a cruise - but very entertaining and enjoyed it very much.
SERVICE: This is some of the best service out there. I swear, as soon as you finish with a bowl or plate, there always seemed to be a staff person going by and would stop to take it - even if they were just passing thru - very team oriented and professional. The drink guys everywhere, were great & helpful for recommendations and can carry a conversation if it is quite - the sports bar is always packed and the bartenders could barely stop for a breath. The head waiter/maitre'd was amazing as my wife has an intolerance for gluten - had made arrangements prior to cruising, but something got lost in passing that along. So Henry - the head guy took care of this problem immediately, and was very accommodating for the entire time. Watch out for the head spa lady - very difficult person says it nicely - I spent a lot of time & money in there and also spent the whole time trying to avoid her and just go to the staff directly.
SPA: Put this in as I said, my wife & myself visited it every day. If you like hot tubs & steam rooms (not just dry sauna), and aromatherapy showers & ceramic heated lounges this is the place. Very modern looking - change rooms are kept very clean & the staff are proud to tell you exactly to what extent they go thru for the whole spa. The heated lounges very relaxing and rejuvenating. The giant hot tub, with centre circle hot tub inside it working different style of jets compared to the general part of the giant tub, and again at the other end is are stainless steel tubes under the water that contour to a lounge chair and keep you elevated with jets hitting you from all angles and underneath on your back. All of these items are accessible per visit use or as a pass - get it, its worth it if you will use it -couple hundred bucks though. The massages where professional (old guys - don't try anything funny) and really the best I have had ever. Wife liked the hot stone massage, I like the relaxing ones or deep tissue - being a big guy, I wondered how little women could work the muscles, but they came thru and one time had to tell them to apply a little less pressure - they put their back into it. Unfortunately, one of the best ones -Mel has now left, but the two Philippine masseuses were also very good - ask for them Reanne I think was one of them.
STATEROOM: Had a balcony, was clean, but not as spacious as I have had on others - not a crowded though either. The flatscreen TV, universal DVD player & bar fridge was great - bring your own DVDs that you would like to watch.
FOOD: Only stayed in the main dining room or buffet. The food is wonderful, more traditional than compared to more unique fusion food that is served on RCI or Carnival. Some say it is less exciting, I say it is just more traditional and the main dining room quality was not lacking at all - the seafood & steaks offered were good quality and cut. The buffet had no long lines and there were lots of stations for variety.
EMBARKATION & DISEMBARKATION: HAL has it right, little waiting, offer you some water and a cold towel, take your luggage right away, give you tags with 1-5 and call in people by the number. 20min later you are checking in (preregister & it takes 2 minutes to go thru the checkin on site). Take your pic and walk onto the ship. Leaving is just as painless, a lineup for about 5mins at best with 3 times you can choose to leave - right up to 11am I believe.