We live on the west coast of Florida so on Friday we drove over to Ft Lauderdale and stayed at the Hampton Inn in downtown, a very nice hotel and they offer free parking in a car garage on their property for free. We saved a lot by not paying the port 20 something dollars a night. Everyone was right about embarkation we arrived at the port at 10:30 went through security with no wait and went straight up to check in. We checked in took our pic and headed up stairs but found we were a little early and had to wait to board, but they offered us lemonade and coffee while we waited. We only waited for about 20 min and our group was able to board.
The Ship: One word WOW! It is so big but not overwhelming. The promenade looks just like a little town, the boardwalk makes you feel like you are on the Jersey Shore and Central Park is breathtaking, especially at night. Central park had seating outside the restaurants, the art shops, the Coach store and all the shrubbery and even recording of birds make it hard to believe you are on a ship. There is so much to do that we didn't get to do everything. The only thing I was disappointed about was the zip line, or as we learned to call it "the zip", it looked so short that the 30 minute wait wasn't worth it. We didn't get to do the flo rider but we watched and people were having lots of fun. We never felt like there were 6000 passengers on that ship, we never had a hard time finding a place to lounge or a hard time finding a seat in windjammer, even when we started to struggle finding a seat a supervisor in the windjammer helped find us find one and was even willing to take us into the suites only dining area. We used the fitness center a few times and all the equipment was so high tech I loved it. The whole ship seemed to be higher tech and clean, so many little things that made it better.
Cabin: We had an interior room on the 8th floor forward. I think our rooms were in a great place, rooms above us and below and not to close to the elevators so minimal noise. The rooms were bigger then any other interior room we have had, we were very impressed. The bathroom was still small and the closet space was a little less then we are use to but sufficient enough. Our room stewards were good they would say hi to us by name when they saw us and were good about not being seen in the room.
Food: First let me say that these people who keep writing that the food was ok or equivalent to Applebees are crazy. My husband and I have been on 6 cruises and this was one of the better cuisine. Of course the food you pay extra for is even better, but it better be if you are paying on top of what you already paid for. We did my time dining and our wait staff (Momicello and Tricia) were the best we have ever had on any cruise, we even were visited by our head waiter every night who would then ask what time we wanted reservations for the next night and would then book it and put us at the same table, best dining service ever! We went to Chops and it was delicious we all walked out sick because we couldn't stop eating it was so good. The Seafood Shack was the best seafood on that whole ship so worth the extra money, which is not a cover charge thing, it is like a regular restaurant with a price for everything you order. We also did Giovanni's for lunch and they gave you so much delicious food we weren't hungry until much later in the evening. As for Windjammer the food was good and such great variety, but we spent most of our breakfasts at the park cafe with a build it yourself bagel stand and breakfast panini. For lunch we usually went to park cafe and promenade cafe where they both served great sandwiches. For late night snacks promenade cafe and sorrento's curbed our late night cravings.
Shows: The best show hands down was the water show Oasis of Dreams, I loved it the diving the stunts it was so entertaining. Come Fly with Me was also a great show the acrobatics were amazing they did an awesome job. Hairspray was also well done and another must see. The only show we didn't like was the Ice Show we actually got up and walked out that's how bad we thought it was. The comedy show was good but the opening comedian was better then the second, who I was hoping would be even better. As for our cruise director Richard Spacey he was an act of his own he was hilarious one of the best cruise directors we've ever had.
Service: The service on this ship was the best service we have ever had, from the moment we walked on till the moment we walked off. Like I said our wait staff were awesome, they knew our names they knew we wanted coffee after dinner they made sure we got the same wait staff and our after dinner shot guy, David, was great too. He only served us after dinner but always made the effort to come over before the meal to talk, he also knew our names by the second night. My husband and his friend made friends with a bartender, Wendell, at the Cigar Bar. Thank god for him because then my friend and I could have girls night everynight. Wendell was a very nice guy, the guys loved talking to him every night while enjoying their cigars.
Activities: Always something to do, belly flop contests, sexy man competition, bingo (which is the most expensive i have ever seen on a cruise), sport competitions, water shows and dances in the evenings.
Ports: We have been to these ports before so nothing to exciting. We did our usual at Cozumel the Pasion Island beach break.Great food, open bar and beautiful scenery.
Disembarkation: We were number 34 and went to our assigned meeting place to wait to be called which was suppose to be at 9:15 well that came and went and they were only up to 30 so we got in line and got checked out no problem. We got down to pick up our luggage no problems there and breezed through customs. The port had plenty of taxis and we got a taxi very quickly and back at the hotel about 30 minutes after we got in line to get off the ship. Overall this cruise was very fun, so much to do that we didn't relax much but that's OK. The ship was beautiful, the staff awesome and the food great. We would go back on this ship but once the prices go down. Our next cruise will probably be Royal Caribbean but probably something a little smaller like Freedom of the Seas. The ship is a definite must just so that you have the experience.