First, I hate the reviews where someone is clearly an unhappy person, and cannot find a single thing good. I will try to use this review as an honest assessment of my time on this ship, and give you the type of information I look for while searching for information about a cruise I am looking to book.
I really had a very good time on this cruise. Now, most of my cruising experience has been on mid level Carnival ships, and each cruise, including this one has been a 'working' vacation for me. I am a musician, and each cruise I have been on, has been chartered by an outside company, and hired the band I work with to come be entertainment for the guests for the duration of the cruise. All of that to say, I get a pretty good overall vibe for the cruise and the destinations, but my experience is not exactly like a regular guest when it comes to certain aspects like embarkation, etc.
The room: My girl and I stayed in room 5042 - ocean view. I was a little surprised how small the room was, but there was ample closet space, and drawer space to store all of our stuff, while shoving the suit cases underneath the bed. I did not find us tripping over ourselves. As usual, the bed was 2 twins pushed together, and as my experience on other cruise lines, the mattress was a bit firm and uncomfortable to my liking - didn't keep me from sleeping though. As typical of this room level, the bathroom was small, and shower a little tight. The room and bathroom size met my expectation from my experience on other cruise lines. The one small surprise was the amount of channels on the television. Other lines had less...not that you want to stay in the room and watch tv, but it was a nice surprise. Our room steward was very friendly, and made a point to remember our first names. Really nice touch that made me feel good. Love that the room service is "free", but was disappointed in the room service breakfast menu - just continental breakfast items.
Food: In the main dining room for dinner, I found the food to be very average. My experience of the main dining food on mid level carnival to be better. I am not an over eater, but I am not embarrassed to try two desserts, or two starters. The starters were generally the best part of the meal. The desserts a disappointment, and the main course...just average. Now, the few times I ate in the "Wind Jammer", the buffet style lunch and breakfast, I was pleasantly surprised. (my carnival experiences of this dining option have been very disappointing). The pizza buffet area, a disappointment. The Compass Deli was a nice option for lunch, or afternoon snack with very nice salad, soup, and hot and cold sandwiches. This boat had a Johnny Rockets for a $5 cover charge. Didn't try it, but thought it was a cool idea. If you are a soda drinker, definitely buy the $25 all you can drink soda pass. It is good in the main dining room too.
The ship: Lot's a great bars, and lounges, decorated nicely. Im not a big drinker, but enjoyed the feel and vibe of the lounges. Nothing felt old or worn out around the ship. Two small pools, didn't have time to enjoy. I only noticed one small hot tub. Not my thing to share a cozy hot tub experience with strangers. Saw the teen zone, and arcade, but didn't partake. Did enjoy the rousing game of dodge ball. If you win, you can sport your nice gold medal around the ship.
Coco Cay: An annoyance to a musician who likes to sleep in, was the announcements every 15-20 min letting passengers know the ferry was able to to take the next group of people to the island. This started at 830am. Not pleasant. Coco Cay is a small island purchased by Royal Caribbean. It feels too manufactured for my taste - kind of like an amusement park - manufactured. HOWEVER, it is a fun time, should you choose to have the fun. Volleyball courts, lots of water toys, and great swimming areas. They have manufactured a very large snorkel and swim area. I have been snorkeling all over the world. This is a very nice area to explore. I was in the water for 2 hours at least, and only got through half of it. I have snorkeled around the world and found areas where there is more fish, and brighter coral, but there was enough interesting things to hold my interest. To the left was a large drop off to about 40 feet. Other areas were 5 feet to 20 feet. They dropped a plane, and created a ship wreck to explore. Again, manufactured, but still fun. You can tell this area is still new, but as the coral grows, and fish find it, it will become even better. The area is roped off, and life guard towers posted. they even have 3 floating rafts for resting-which being out there for 2 hours, I used. The food for lunch on the island was well below average BBQ, but didn't cost extra. The process to get off the ship, and land on the island took me about 45 min. This included the line waiting to get on to the ship to shore tender, waiting for that boat to fill up, the ride over to the island-just be aware, it's not a quick process.
The Spa: I bought my girl some spa treatments. Every day in the cruise daily letter they tell you what the spa specials are. Most of the specials combine a bunch of little services that amount to little facial things. The last day was a special for an actual message. She said the spa was very nice and comparable to local and hotel spas she has been in. The staff was friendly.
Tips: buy the Soda package for $25. The sales on ship merchandise happened at the end of the cruise. Purchase excursions through the locals, not through the cruise ship. When the vacation is over, and you get back to Miami, If you can handle carrying all your luggage off the ship, don't leave your bags in the hallway the night before. Just simply get up the last morning, have a leisurely breakfast, and walk off the ship with your bags. Otherwise, if you have the crew take your luggage the night before, you have to get up early, wait for 30 min in a lounge till they let you get in line to get off the ship. Then you have to scramble to find your luggage, and get in line at customs. It's a tremendous hassle, and the process takes between an 1-1.5 hours (my friends went through this) My girl and I opted to carry all our luggage (or roll it). Simply walked off the ship, and straight into customs line, which for us, there was no line. Waaayyy easier - 10 min, compared to our friend's 1.5 hour ordeal. The ship doesn't advertise this option.