Compared to other cruises, there were numerous 'notable' differences. Boarding in San Pedro went fairly well, but staterooms were not ready until later in the afternoon. Advertising and promotions touted a free "welcome glass of champagne". We were told that was "discontinued". Being forced to purchase 'on board' liquor over bringing our own, is only for the benefit of the cruise line, not the customer. 'Per drink' prices were very much overpriced, both on deck and from the refrigerator. Ice was only available through room service. Coffee makers were taken away due to 'heightened awareness' concerns.
"Specialty dining" is a slap in the face to anyone that has cruised before. While it may be a money maker for the cruise line, it detracts from the overall cruising experience to be required to 'pay more' for better food. In the regular dining rooms, the same 8 oz mediocre sirloin steak was offered every day. Other entrees were only slightly more appealing.
"Free Style dining" and pre paid gratuities do not allow for any personalization with staff to get into any kind of familiarity at dining. Pursers desk staff were polite, but rarely spoke understandable English telling you what they thought you wanted to hear. Getting off the ship was very poorly publicized. PA system announcements of instructions were rarely audible. If this cruise is the trend of the future, we most likely will not be cruising again.