On the day of sailing 03/30/2009 we drove from my mom's in the Orlando area to Miami. We left around 7 am, took I-95 down (avoiding the turnpike and the toll.)We arrived in Miami before Noon and drove to the lot to park, we chose to park by the airport and they shuttled us to the port. We saved $30.00 by doing this, but next time may just park at the port, more on that later.
Checking in was a breeze once we got thru the line outside, the agent was very nice and after that we were on the ship in less that 15 minutes (this after the standard welcome aboard photo)once on the ship we got out glass of champagne, a very nice touch. We went up to deck 11 for lunch, we had our lunch in Il Adagio, they offered pizza and create your own pasta. The pasta was great, there were not many in there so we avoided the crowd at the main buffet. Plus we had Italian without having the pay to do so.
By this time our cabin was ready, we had an outside which we would not normally get, however a week before the cruise I was checking the rates and found that what we had paid for inside was now the same price for outside. I called the company we booked with and kindly asked if it was possible to get and upgrade. I only held on for 5 minutes and was thrilled that we were upgraded. Glad I called when I did, because only a few days later the cruise was sold out. We thought the cabin was just fine for an 12 year old ship. My mom thought the cabin seemed small, I thought it was ok in size and knew it was larger than the cabins on the Royal Caribbean ships we have cruised on. Plus who really spends all that much time in the cabin when you are on a cruise anyway. Cruise cabins are small for a reason, so you will go out and spend your money on their ship! We did have one issue, the second day when we got up the the toilet didn't flush, thru the day it worked and then didn't. It was finally fixed, someone put something in there that didn't belong, so the main line was stopped. I went to reception on deck 5 and asked if there was anything that they could do for us for the trouble, after a few minutes the young lady returned with a vouched for complementary bottle of wine, we were happy with that.
We thought all the public rooms were very well kept for the age of the ship, nothing to complain about here.
We ordered room service each morning for that first cup of coffee which was very good. The first and last mornings we also ordered pastries, yogurt and juice. The other two mornings we had breakfast at the buffet, and went to the omelet and waffle stations and then over to the main buffet for the rest.
Lunch was at the buffet and the day at sea there was poolside BBQ, that was great, grilled chicken, burgers and hot dogs and sides. The potato salad was very good they didn't use mayo which was good since it was right out in the sun.
We choose not to pay to dine in the specialty restaurants, and this was good choice because we enjoyed the food in the main dinning rooms, both choices and quality. As with many reviews I would agree that the lobster choice was not very good, I had also ordered a steak and that turned out to be a good idea. The last night we had our best dinner, we both ordered the English cut roast beef with Yorkshire pudding ( a popover) so good, so very good. We also had the best service the last night Cher and Rico were our serving team and they were fantastic, I ever filled out a comment card for them.
The entertainment was very good much like any other cruise line but the singers were better than most I have seen. The comedian was also great, I laughed a lot and I am had to please when it comes to comedy, his name was Rich Purpura. On the last night they has the "jokers wild" your fellow passengers tell the jokes (adults only) they were pretty funny. Right after that was Quest and adult scavenger hunt, when I say adult I mean it. If you are prude or faint of heart just don't go to this, since we don't mind "adult humor" this was hilarious, just watching was most of the fun, just sit back ad watch the silly people.
Cocktails were a little pricey, but they did have great 2 for 1 specials from 6-8 in the Atrium bar and a few others,mojito's and martinis, we took advantage of this great deal. The mojito's were great and you could even pick a flavored rum at no extra cost.
The service was great, some of the most friendly crew members afloat. We did not come into contact with one rude crew member. They were so happy when we stopped for a few minutes to speak with them. We noticed that many passengers would not say thank you when they were brought their drink or if they were helped by someone. Passengers should remember that 90-95 % of the crew are away from their homes, families and their countries for 6 or more months at a time they appreciate it when you show a little interest in them. All you have to do is smile, or say hello and thank you when they do something for you, or say hello and smile just because :) you will help them miss home just a little bit less.
All in all wonderful cruise, good food, entertainment and people. Best short cruise we have been on. My husband and I are already planning a group cruise with a bunch of friends on this ship for next year.