Our family of five with an 8-year-old son and 11 and 13-year-old daughters had a great experience on this cruise. The ship is in immaculate condition and everywhere we turned there were crew members polishing brass or cleaning some component of the ship.
Our cabin and bathroom were always clean when we returned, and our dining room waiter, "YoYo" was very friendly and sincere without being obsequious. He made sure we liked what we ordered or offered to bring us something else. The
menu was diverse, and the food was similar in quality to other cruises we've been on, but just as with those cruises, sometimes we loved what was served and sometimes we were underwhelmed. For example, the soups were almost always really tasty, and so were the pasta entrees, but the desserts were hit or miss. The cheesecakes were not as sweet as we expected, but then, many Italian-style desserts aren't. The Tiramisu was good and so were the pastries and mascarpone, but the apple pie wasn't at all what Americans are used to. Entree standouts were the Thanksgiving turkey dinner, the Gala-night fillet mignon and turkey cordon bleu. The grilled chicken was really tender and the fruits and vegetables were all very good. The breakfast and lunch buffets had more than enough choices and the salad bar had everything you could imagine. All produce was unbelievably fresh to the very last day. A pizza buffet rounded out the selections and the overlapping nature of the dining room and buffet times meant there was always something to eat.
We attended every after-dinner show in the theater and enjoyed the slightly different dancing and circus-like acts with a new theme each night. The first night had a US historical theme, another night had reenactments of Broadway musicals and one night focused on famous Italian operas. Standouts were the trapeze performers, the male "feats of strength"/gymnastics act, the knife thrower and the male and female opera singers. Although there were no comedians, the ship's "animation (entertainment) team" hosted audience participation shows like the "Mr. Italy" competition and various-themed trivia contests that involved really funny skits--sometimes at the passenger-participant's expense. The classical piano/string trio played in the main atrium many times a day and was excellent.
To keep the costs down, we didn't do any excursions, but there's really not enough time to do much more than shop and enjoy the beaches or snorkel. Swimming with dolphins seems like fun until you hear the $150/person price and learn that it's 2 dolphins, 9 swimmers and a 30' pool.
One of the best parts of the cruise was the composition of the passengers. Most were an upper middle class, middle-aged or older crowd with some elementary-aged/teen kids that were all well-behaved. About half were Americans and the other half Canadians, Europeans, South Americans and Asians. It was a refreshing mix of languages and cultures all getting along together and enjoying their families, and the ship never seemed crowded.
In short, if you're looking for on-board rock climbing, ice skating and surfing or are interested in eating 8 meals a day this probably isn't the cruise for you. But if you want a good family vacation with an elegant Italian decor, no stress and lots of good memories, you'll love this cruise!