We are a couple in our fifties and this was our first cruise ever. I had researched everything on this web site, but nothing prepares you for the actual experience.
Embarkation: We drove from the SF bay area with a overnight stop in Santa Barbara. We arrived at the San Pedro port at around 11:00 AM and were on the ship in less than 30 minutes. There were plenty of parking spaces available and I was able to find a spot in the very first row closest to the shop. Parking for the week was $ 84. The embarkation process was painless and the fellow passengers were all in good mood. We notices a lot of families with school age kids, turned out to be Spring break week. Our cabin (6th floor balcony, starboard aft, near the center) was ready at exactly 1:00 PM and the luggage arrived later that evening. We wandered around the ship and were awed at the size.
Stateroom: Our room was spacious and you could store the suitcases under the bed. We loved the balcony and had our breakfast most mornings in there. The room has a safe, TV, plenty of hangers in the closet. Bathroom is rather small and has soap, shampoo, etc. You get live CNN, Fox, ESPN. But other channels are taped. I was able to watch Masters golf tournament live. Our cabin attendant was very friendly and had a different towel animal every day.
Ship: The ship is huge and awesome. It literally is a floating city. I had a high regard for the Captain and the crew for keeping things running smooth and on time. Captain Johny was a blast and always greeted us each morning with his " Good morning, good morning, good morning". He and the officers had a lot of interesting bits of information when we got to meet them. For example the ship's gas mileage is 16 inches / gallon! The promenade is a place to hang out and do people watching.
Dining: We had My Time Dining and got a table by the window every night. Our waiters (Nemo and Ian) were a hoot. They even got a chocolate dessert for my wife when it was not on the menu. The food was good (not great) but had a lot of options. We did not buy a wine package because that would have been too much wine (minimum 5 bottles) for the two of us. Instead we bought a single bottle at a time and had it held for us the next day or beyond. We also dined at Chops and Portofino. We were blown by the quality of food at Chops. My Fillet Mignon was out of this world and the service was impeccable. I was very disappointed with Portofino. The food quality was so so and the service was extremely slow and non-existent. I wish I had gone to Chops twice and skipped Portofino. We always had lunch at Windjammers and the salad bar were really really good. You can always get free coffee, tea and snacks at the Cafe Promenade.
Entertainment: They had a show (Singing, dancing, comedy, ice dance) every night and the quality was outstanding. The ice dance is not to miss. The daily compass newsletter (which arrives the night before to your room) has all the activities and entertainment listed. The Cruise Entertainment direct Kieran Boffery (Sp?) is a hoot and keeps the place hopping. The singing and dancing in the promenade was a lot of fun. It is not possible to get bored as there is something to do for everyone at all times.
Shopping: If you want to shop for jewelery (especially diamonds), the Mexican riviera is the place to go. The on board shopping expert Karen (very cute accent) is awesome and is well connected to the jewelers in all three ports. I would highly recommend buying the shopping coupon book (cost $ 25) and get a VIP pass from Karen to go shopping at ports. My wife got a steal at Diamonds International in Cabo for her diamond earrings. In addition, you get free charms bracelet at every port, not to mention 2 for 1 drinks on the ship.