This was our first time on such a large ship. My husband and I are not fans of big ships with thousands of people. However, this cruise was specifically for my grandfather, who is handicapped (he rides a scooter)and rather advanced in age, so we decided that for him with mobility problems, etc, a large ship is the right ticket.
Embarkation was very fast and easy. Porters assisted my grandfather with luggage and his scooter, and got us on the ship without too much hassle.
Cabins: The handicapped cabin we booked was the standard balcony room, but had a fairly large amount of space to move about, the closet had hand pulls to help you get to things if you were sitting in a wheelchair, bathroom very accessible with ride-in shower. Bathroom was older looking with dated hardware. Our cabin (also basic balcony) was half the size, also dated but we could cope fine. Maid service was great, although we found some fellow passangers complaining that the housekeeping staff blasted TV's and music while cleaning and took up a lot of space.
Getting around: My grandfather had no problems getting around on the scooter. There were times when the housekeeping carts were not "parked" well in the corridors, so we needed to move them for him in order to get by. The elevators took a while, and we found that sometimes it was easier to just get on the first one that arrived, irrespective of its direction so we could just squeeze in. It was also somewhat shocking to me how some fellow travelers would literally jump in the elevator before the scooter leaving no space for us to get in. I guess in some places manners are a thing of the past.
Dining: Making reservations for dinner was a hassle. We were given a late seating for dinner, which doesn't work for my grandfather. It took us 1.5 hours in line and working it out with the manager to have that changed. There were many others on line who looked pretty upset, and I found out later many were not able to change their seating.
Food was fine, and exceeded our expectations given the number of people they have to serve daily.
Food service in the restaurants was great, as were the maiterde's (sp?) at dinner time. They helped my grandfather feel comfortable and welcome.
I would say that buffets were dissapointing, and after 2 unpleasant meals we resorted to the restaurant for all our meals.
Pools - one of the pools is handicap accessible. They have a lift that they can operate to get you in to the water. There was a pool hand that did this for us a few times during the week, and it was wonderful. It was the first time in over thirty years that my grandfather went into a pool, and was a memorable experience for him. The staff at the pool could not have been more accomodating. I will caveat that we tried the pool only on port days, so there was barely anyone left on the ship. On sailing days, it was barely possible to find a chair, and asking for the lift to operate with that number of people in the pool was out of question.
We did not go to any ports as my grandfather was not up to it, so I cannot comment on the ports of call.
Overall the experience was exactly what we were looking for. The room was a great size, housekeeping very decent (they made towel art every night which my grandfather got a kick out of), food and service for lunch and dinner was great.
Would we do it again? Yes if my grandfather was able to do it. Would we go alone as a couple or with our children? No, honestly this trip only cemented our preference for smaller more intimate ships.