Our group of eight flew into Ft.Lauderdale the day before we set sail. We booked accomodations on our own at the Ramada Inn -Airport location. This was a "frill-less" hotel but adequate for the one night we stayed. A full breakfast was included in our rate and the is a restaurant on the property for lunch and dinner. Complimentary airport pick up and transportation to the cruiseport was also included.
We arrived at the port at 11 am and were on board and headed for our cabins before noon. Our luggage arrived several hours later. The embarktion process was the best I have ever encountered. Each deck had multiple personnel processing new arrivals. All in all - very efficient and quick. Once on board we drop off our carryons in our cabin and headed to the Lido deck for lunch.
The Lido was a typical buffet for breakfast and lunch. The space here is smaller than other ships I have sailed on with no real direction for the people to follow. At times the area became quite congested.
Cafe Caribe has a different food theme daily. Serving space is a little bigger in this venue than in the Lido.
Our group chose Anytime dining in the DaVinci Dining room. We had a standing reservation for our entire voyage at 5:45. Our waitstaff was excellent and very pleasant. The food was very good. Having said that, asparagus was served with almost every entree and I would like to see a bigger variety of other vegetables. There was more than ample choices, so it wasn't hard to find something to enjoy each night. One refreshing option was a "homestyle meal" each night. Choices varied from fried chicken, turkey dinner with the trimmings, Texas chili, and beef short ribs, just to name a few. One choice was offered each night. Every night alternative options of ceasar salad, shrimp cocktail, fettucine alfredo, beef medallions, salmon, grilled chicken and a fruit plate. The nightly menu had a vegetarian option, seafood and beef. No reason anyone should go away hungry!!!
The desserts were good - my favorite was the Princess Dream - a small serving of chocolate mousse on a very thin brownie. Very rich and delicious. If you're looking for sugar free, choices are scarce. Only one offering each night. Always available is ice cream with a variety of toppings.
Our group did not visit any of the alternative restaurants, but several folks did have pizza and burgers and said the food was good and the set up was efficient.
Pleanty of ship board activities - trivia games, bingo, afternoon movies...the afternoon movie is usually in the Explorer's Lounge and it is the same as the movie shown the night before at the Movie Under the Stars. This is a unique concept but arrive early for a lounge chair, and be careful of wet lounges from the afternoon swim crowd. Ship's staff will bring you a blanket and popcorn as well as cookies and milk. While this is nice at night, during the daytime what is shown is loud and was not for me.
Our group was up early and out at the Terrace pool by 7:45 on sea days. This is an adult only area so you need to arrive early if you want a lounge chair. You're out of luch if you arrive after 8:15. We secured our chairs and had a cup of coffee before going into have breakfast. We did not dally for fear of losing our chairs. All the pools on the ship are fresh water which was refreshing instead of the usual salt water.
The ship itself is beautiful and well maintained. One thing I did miss was lounge chairs on the Promenade Deck. Chairs were plentiful but I missed being able to stretch out to read a good book or to take in the view.
As for the entertainment - it was met with some mixed reviews from our group. I found the singers adequate but nothing special. The dancers were exceptional. There were the usual comedians and magicians. Nothing really stood out. The first show we saw was unique as it pertained to the scenery and backdrops. This is one area that is hard to evaluate as personal taste differs from individual to individual.
Disembarkation still leaves something to be desired. It was better than other lines I have sailed with, so I guess there is no easy way to disembark 3,000 passengers all looking for luggage in a confined space. Customs was fast and efficient.
The one thing I will say is the Ft. Lauderdale airport is too small for the volume of passengers utilizing this port. Expansion in the terminals is highly desired. It would help to have several restaurants located prior to security to help cut down on the congestion.