This ship was amazing! I sailed with a group of 42 people March 13-20, 2010. My companion has never cruised before, and I don't see how he could ever cruise on a smaller ship.
It was spring break for Canada and there were almost 6,100 people on the ship, which was the largest occupancy of the ship to date. You never felt the crowds at all on the ship, although toward the end of the cruise, the teenagers were becoming quite bold and rude. Looking back, I should have complained to management. There is a curfew for kids under 18 (1 a.m.!), but I frequently saw kids out and about at all hours. I think the management should have policed this and all the underage drinking better. Kids were running down our hallway at 3 a.m.
Embarkation was a breeze. Plenty of open windows to check in, no lines at the metal detectors. It was crowded on the Royal Promenade when we first entered, but it was the only crowd that we encountered.
There is a lot to do on the ship. I recommend perusing the Cruise Compass and planning the day ahead of time to make sure you fit in what you want to do. I wanted to go ice skating but never found the time. I waited too long to sign up for the zip line, so had a port day, but it was in the morning prior to arriving in the Bahamas, so it was not bad.
The shows were all great. I liked Hairspray the best, and also the part of the ice show where they had a sand artist drawing interpretations of scenes from Thumbelina. I did not like Earl Turner as much (the Headliner show), but that could be because of my age. He is more of a Vegas-style entertainer who sings songs from the 60's. The older people I was with loved him. The comedians were very funny.
The food was okay. I did not like the food in the Windjammer, so I did not eat there much. Also, the setup of the buffet tables was not conducive to being able to get food, and it was crowded. I did like the onboard computers that told you the capacity of various restaurants throughout the ship. Do not miss out on the paninis and roast beef sandwiches at Park Cafe. The pizza was also very good. I paid for two cupcakes (root beer and red velvet). The red velvet cupcake was delicious. The root beer....not so much.
For activities, I highly recommend the Quest. It was so much fun. I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard. I enjoyed the Michael Jackson dance lessons as well.
The stateroom was nice. We had a balcony and I will never again cruise with anything less. We slept with the door open and it was nice to hear and smell the ocean.
This boat moved a lot. I was ill the first night and had to have Dramamine every night. I don't know if we had especially rough seas, or if the boat is always like this.
For the most part, the staff was friendly, outgoing and very attentive, especially our waiter Arnie. I did encounter one rude staff when I did the zip line. I am very short and had a hard time reaching the floor when I ended my ride. The staff snapped at me, "What's wrong with you? Stand up!". It was so rude that I had to report it to Guest Services. What's wrong with me? I'm short! Instead of yelling at me, try helping me to get my feet under me. Our stateroom attendant was awesome. She did a great job and made a point to always smile, say hi and call me by my name when I encountered her in the hall.
The ports were good. I went to Magen's Bay and Orient Beach. I did not do the excursions and saved a lot of money by just hailing a cab when I left the ship. I got some jewelry bargains in St. Thomas. Our waiter advised us to ship in St. Maarten (more than once). I wonder if he was paid to say that? I'm glad I didn't listen to him and did my shopping in St. Thomas.
Some cons about the cruise: All the nickel and diming that is done, the TV schedule was all messed up and we could never tell when our shows were booked, the entrance to the dining room was right across from the casino and there was always a heavy smell of smoke while waiting to get into the dining room, Johnny Rockets (they got my breakfast order very wrong), wake calls never came or came in at the wrong time. It's a good thing I set the cell phone alarm on the last day, because the wake up call I set never came. There were kids in the Solarium and teens (many young ones) running around unsupervised by parents, the food at the Windjammer. Also, the nightclub was reserved one night for kids under 18 until 1 a.m. At 1, the club extended the time to 2. How was this possible when the kids had a 1 a.m. curfew? What are 12 year olds doing up without parents until 2 a.m.?
Pros about the ship: clean and new, lots of interesting artwork (look for the bronze binoculars and take a peek inside), Live the Oasis tour and book, most of the food (especially at the Park Cafe), the shows, the service, lots of activities, the balcony room, the pools, Central Park, Embarking and debarking, the zip line and the cupcakes.