From my prior to experiences cruising (1st with NCL, 2nd with Carnival), I was looking forward to the Calypso band on the pool deck on the first day and thereafter but that never happened. Overall, the music was geared towards older people (60's and over) and not very entertaining for my age group of 37 - 50 year olds. Every night we went to bed early and watched movies because we didn't want to listen to Jazz or oldies music
The entertainment staff was very nice but not top notch. Shows in the theatre were ok but again not top notch. After 6 days we finally realized that yes, there is a Cruise Director. Wouldn't have even realized it but she finally did introduce a show. Again, no Simon from NCL.
The first night on the boat was the Ravens playoff games. We roamed the boat and found numerous TV's. After inquiring from several crew members about the status of the games on their TV's, we were told that the games were on CBS and Fox and they only carry ESPN. We were told that we could rent a USB cord to utilize their internet to watch the game on our laptop. After renting one for $15, we had to purchase 250 minutes at $80. Twenty-five minutes into trying to get the game on, we found out that ESPN was airing the game. We called the customer service phone and were told that we couldn't get a refund. The next morning we went down and filed a complaint and got the managers information. We were told to come back in the morning to speak to him. When we did, he adjusted the bill to $25 (minimum charge for internet) which we thought was fair.
Villa Pompeian served buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner. The only problem was there was no variety. You had the same menu selections every day. Eggs, bacon, sausage links, etc, Every once in a while the changed it up by rotating their lunchmeats. Pizza was probably the only thing that was of any substance. Bad part about this restaurant is if you don't go during the scheduled times, you were not going to eat. One night we were getting pizza at 10:29pm (Pizza bar closed at 10:30pm). I got two pieces for my fiancEs and went back to get more (table not even ten feet away) and the servers took the remaining two pizzas and put them in the back. Asked him to please bring them back out because we would like to eat them and he said the pizza bar was closed. Unfreaking believable thing was that the supervisor there didn't do anything about it.
Kaito Sushi Bar was very good. Best meal I had on the whole ship. The sad part was that we didn't experience it until the last night of the cruise. Wished we would have gone sooner.
Palladio Restaurants was not impressive. In order to enter the restaurant you had to be dressed up. Some people did and they looked wonderful. I would have liked the option to dress Island Casual whenever I wanted to. My problem is that the total turn-around time for whole meal was minimum 2 hours. Servers were nice but it seemed like we were always the last ones getting our meals even though we were the first ones there. Lobster was tough, steaks were so-so, but shrimp cocktail was delicious.
Beverages served at breakfast and dinner was slim in variety. Tea was like water. Coffee was good. Not much of a selection for breakfast juices besides orange and pineapple. Milk was in 8oz containers and not very cold. Pina Colada had 2 shots of Myers Rum which made it very tasty. Ship
The ship was absolutely beautiful but that doesn't make up for all the other inadequacies of the trip. The gym was large but no floor area for stretching. We used the hot tubs in the spa prior to getting a message. They were nice and relaxing and the message hit all the right spots. Housekeeping deserves all the gratuities out of everyone. My room on the 12th floor was handled by Andre & Co. who did an excellent job. It didn't matter how many times we left our cabin, it was always tidied up by the time we got back. The only thing missing was the little animals that they create.
In regards to excursions this is how it went.
- Key West just walked around until 1:30pm when we had to get back on the ship.
- Cozumel (We were suppose to go to Playa de Carmen but the changed the itinerary that morning). Since I have been here before we knew where to go and what to do. First we rented a Jeep ($74), drove to the other side of the islands, grabbed a couple of beers and then headed back to Mr. Sancho's were the beach chairs are good, the beers were around $4 and the food was excellent. Beach was nice as well. We brought our snorkel gear and chummed and then the fish started swarming us. Great time.
- Grand Cayman's are always a good time. Just jump on the local bus for $1.50 and they will take you to Calico Jacks on the beach. Get the bus driver to stop at the liquor store so you can pick up a 6 pack at $12 versus $5 a beer.
- In Jamaica we took another bus down into the city. We stopped at a couple bars and had $2.50 Heinekens and then went to Margarita Ville where they went up to $5. Since you were able to use their facilities (i.e., bathrooms, waterslides, water bouces, etc.) it was worth it.
- In Nassau we took Athol snorkeling trip for $31. Unfortunately here, they take you out into the Harbor not even a ½ a mile from the cruise ship to go snorkeling. The water was rough and too cold to get into. $31 x 2 is not a cheap boat ride. On the positive side we took a bus to the fish fry which is not even a ¼ mile from the docks. At the 1st restaurant we have conch fritters. OK but too much breading (Best is from Mallory Square in Key West). 2nd restaurant we ordered to meals. First one was fried conch w/rice and platanos $12 - very good. Second one was the fried shrimp. Even though the shrimp was good, 5 pieces not worth $18 dollars.
On the out to sea day, you have three thousand people trying to score chairs to lay on which results in not enough chairs and tempers flying because there weren't enough places to sit or even to lie around the pool.
Our room was nice but you felt every time the engines were on because the bed shaked and the windows rattled. Not a good room if your looking for piece and quiet. In addition, the restaurant was on the floor above us and you heard the crew in the early morning setting up the tables.
Disembarkation to the tenders was long, long, long. We waited one hour and twenty minutes while some people waited up to two hours. Since we had a 9:30am flight going home, we chose to get off the boat at the designated disembarkment time of 7am. We only had to wait around 20 minutes (7:20am) to finally get off.
Overall, on other cruise lines the customer was always the priority. On this cruise line, they don't care about the customer's wants or needs. There was no creating your own omelet in the morning or Asian noodles in the afternoon. This was the only time I came back from vacation and lost weight. Not too much, two pounds but come on. The evening when we got home, we went out to dinner and that was the first time I had an honest to goodness hot meal in over a week. Next time you're looking for a cruise, even if the price is great ($440 balcony room) please do not waste your money on this cruise line.