We travelled on a 16 day repositioning cruise from San Francisco to Fort Lauderdale in September/October. The cruise had good and bad points. Good first :-
Staff were very friendly and helpful throughout - nicest staff on any ship I can remember. Best was the Maitre d'hotel on the open dining restaurant who remembered our name, room number and preferences after just a few days! Cruise Director also excellent. Cabin staff lovely (but they always are!) Cabin large and well appointed - nice area to sit and watch TV, lots of storage space and hanging area.
Food generally good although rarely had a wow factor. Portions not too big which we like, as it means you are never over-full. Icecream excellent and nearly always available.
Lots of sunbeds and loungers on deck - never a shortage. Nice outside pool at back of ship
Open dining good - we usually never booked and never had to wait for a table.
No cool areas except on Promenade deck, miles away from pools. It was very hot and sunny on the cruise and the only way to escape the heat was deck 3 or inside. The outside pool area had no shade except where smoking was allowed - why were they so favoured?! There was another area with cover in the middle of the ship but it was constantly like sitting in a sauna because there was no breeze or aircon in that area. All other upper deck areas were in the full sun and, as a result, were hardly used at all. Where there were covered areas, the covers had been removed, for no obvious reason.
No forward visibility because all open areas faced sideways or backwards. There was one forward deck but it was closed at all times except for the Panama Canal transit, again for no apparent reason. Why not open it all the time?!!
The staff were all lovely but badly trained and also understaffed in places - we waited a long time for breakfast in the dining room, tables were often not set when we sat down, we had to keep requesting things that should be there. Some small examples - plates at buffet were too hot to hold but there were no napkins to hold them with, one course was often being delivered when other diners were eating the previous course, very often the food did not match what was described on the menu, staff at customer services denied there was a navigation chart even though we had seen it (and found it again!) - all minor things but lots and lots of them!!
Dining room not open for lunch on most land days which meant only the Buffet was open. As a result, there were long lines and nowhere to sit.
Many of the passengers were very elderly - at 55, I felt like a teenager!! I am used to some elderly passengers but I think more than half were over 70 and many much older!
Tendering was a disaster - we wondered if the crew had ever carried out the process before - it took so long and was so disorganized. We waiting 35 minutes for a tender on full sunshine even though we were third in line!! Also, the staff operating the tender did not seem to know how to moor the boat - as a boater myself, I could have done a better job! Finally, the tenders were filled and then wheelchairs put in the aisles which was a definite safety risk if we needed to get out quickly for any reason. God help anyone who has to evacuate this ship - it would probably go down while passengers waited to join the lifeboats!!
Altogether, OK but not the 4 star experience we expected from the good reviews on Holland America