My boyfriend and I took the first Caribbean (Eastern) cruise out of Miami on July 10. Overall, it was one of our favorite cruises thus far (this was our 4th together, my 8th overall). The ship itself is beautiful and the decor is modern, tasteful, and toned down. I'll break everything down into categories...
Cabins: I had read a lot of complaints/concerns about the cabin lay-out before boarding the ship (no bathroom, splashy sink, too narrow, short beds, etc.) so I knew exactly what to expect. However, for us, being a young couple who aren't shy, the lack of bathroom was a non-issue and the narrowness of the cabin really wasn't a huge problem. My main concern with the cabin was the splashy sink because it was shallow and almost impossible not to splash water while using. We also didn't like how the cabin steward didn't make a towel animal every night. In fact, we asked around and they are only required to make 3 towel animals over the week (which is probably not a big problem for other people, but we have come to expect random towel creatures after dinner). The other concern with the cabin was the TV and its limited channels. They had basic news channels, ESPN, Nick, and a "favorite TV show" channel with a hodgepodge of TV shows played randomly but NO first run movies for free (you had to pay). Last cruise we went on (Carnival Dream) we caught up on like 3 or 4 movies just out of the theaters. Anyway, we really loved our curved walls and modern lighting, laminate paneling and big balcony. The room was cozy and cave-like and perfect for sleeping. I'm short so I had no problem with the curved bed but my boyfriend did express that his feet were hanging off the end at night. Overall, we liked the 'new-wave' cabins for a change.
Food: The food was overall great on this ship. We ate all breakfasts, most lunches, and 1 dinner at the garden cafe and the quality was always good. Breakfast was my favorite with omelet stations, french toast, cereal, fruit, etc. etc. and the buffet stations were set up so well that it never felt packed, you never had to wait in a line for long or at all, and you could always find a table. This ship had the best flow to a buffet than any other ship. However, for lunch and dinner the selection was adequate but not extraordinary. There was your typical pizza, burgers, fries, and a good pasta station but not a big selection of indian or asian food and no mexican. We usually made a sandwich or salad and saved room for dinner.
We ate one lunch at O-Sheehan's which had a fun menu and atmosphere. However, we were immediately turned off by the server who seemed angry and annoyed, with no introduction saying,"What do you want?" two minutes after we sat down. The food was good (burger for him reuben for me) but we didn't go back because the service was that unpleasant.
We ate one dinner at the Manhattan Room. We loved how the dining room was at the back of the ship with the ocean behind us. The live music during dinner was really cool for a main dining room and the food was adequate. The service was slow and the servers weren't all that friendly. The menu selection wasn't great either. 3 changing items and then a fixed 5 or 6. We liked the Manhattan Room but it didn't impress us enough to go back another night.
As far as specialty restaurants go, we ate at Moderno, Cagney's, La Cucina, and the sushi bar, Wasabi. Our favorite was Moderno. Fun concept, excellent service (the best service we had was here thanks to Luca? our waitress), and the food was soooo delicious. I just wish I didn't get full so fast so I could have eaten MORE. This place was the best value at $18/person.
La Cucina was yummy too. The restaurant was so pretty and romantic at the front of the ship. The service and food were both good. This place was definitely worth the $10/person.
Cagney's was also delicious. We had the 10 oz filet and a bunch of sides with the sampler dessert. The filet was very thick and cooked an appropriate medium. The service here was good but there was some confusion with our appetizer and the place was packed when we went (probably why the servers got a little mixed up). Definitely recommend trying this restaurant.
The last night we went to the sushi bar last minute because we weren't eager to go back to the main dining room. We ordered 2 dynamite, 1 rock n roll, and a shrimp tempura roll. They were all delicious and came with miso soup. The sushi bar is worth giving a try as it was very fresh and didn't require a reservation.
We also ate at Cirque dreams and dinner. The food was ok, not as terrible as another review said, but not great either. I thought the steak was better than the chicken but the potato they included was barely edible (hard). Dessert was yummy though. And the show more than made up for the average food.
Entertainment: This ship had some of the best entertainment we've seen, ever. Blue Man Group was awesome, hilarious, and unique. Very cool show, nothing like it that I've seen. Legends in Concert was good and the impersonators were believable. Second City was funny but not great (maybe cause we saw the PG show). There was a comedy magician who was ok, typical cruise ship entertainment. We saw the newlywed game show up on Spice H20 and it was cool to watch a game show up on the deck. Cirque Dreams and Dinner was FANTASTIC. We had the premium seats and these guys were RIGHT THERE doing amazing and impossible things. Never seen anything like it, probably never will again. I would definitely recommend the premium seats over the regular ones. Its worth it. We also went to see Howl at the Moon dueling pianos which I loved... these guys were very talented and funny and they got the audience going. The Bliss Club was also impressive... never seen a cruise club this packed. It was like a Miami beach club with the same energy and excitement from the crowd.
Pools, deck, and slides: The slides were awesome. All day people were going up and down, kids going on the slides over and over, waiting in line forever for the tube slide. We went on all 3 slides but liked the green windy one the best. It was scary being pitch black for 13 seconds. The tube slide was cool in theory but the line was a pain and then I got stuck going around the circle and had to push myself around for awhile to get out of it. They gave my bf the kid sized tube so he flew out of it on the way down. There was a kiddie splash area below the slides too which looked like a lot of fun, very cute with starfish and crabs and mushrooms with water sprinkling from them. The pools themselves were small and the water burned my bfs eyes. I never even went in the pools. Spice H20 also had a tiny pool by the movie screen... but I never really saw anyone go in it, it was that tiny. Sports deck was cool, didn't climb any rock walls or rappel or anything but it looked fun.
Gym: We loved the gym. It was huge with tons of equipment and ocean views. Weights, machines, you name it they had it. We went to the gym 3 times and never had trouble getting an elliptical or anything.
Overall we loved this ship but wish the pools were bigger and some of the service was better. Another thing i wish they would do is give you something or allow you access to what you reserved beforehand. I had to remember all the restaurants and shows and times for everything I reserved in advance and I got confused once or twice. They should allow you to access this on the interactive TV or give you a print-out in your stateroom.
Another great part of this trip was how EASY getting on and off the ship was. They let people on and off at the front and back of the ship to relieve congestion and it worked. We go on within 20 minutes and it took like 15 minutes to get off (we did the easy walk-off and carried our own bags off at 7:30 am). Really nice!
And another thing, we never experienced an issue cause I reserved EVERYTHING beforehand, but if you don't make reservations expect to have trouble getting into shows. The restaurants have screens around the ship that show which have availability and at what time so those are easier to squeeze into than the entertainment venues.