The embarkation process was pretty smooth and steady. You drive into the port and they take your luggage. Then you drive a little further and they check your documents (boarding passes, passports, etc...). Then you drive a little further and they take your money for parking (15 bucks per day). Then you park inside a warehouse. You walk a short while to a shuttle which takes you to the terminal. Inside the terminal, you go through metal detectors and fill out a health survey. Then you stand in line and get your sail and sign card, get your picture taken, and finally board the ship. It sounds like a lot of work, but it was pretty quick.
Once we got onto the ship, we were taken up to the top deck (Lido) where the Windows on the Sea Buffet is found, as well as the open deck grill. Waiters were walking around handing out glass after glass of free champagne and they had italian food and burgers, etc... In about an hour, we were allowed to go to our room. The rest of review I will break up into categories:
Food: For breakfast, you can eat in the dining room (open seating) in which you order off a menu that has just about any breakfast item. You can also eat at the Windows of the Sea buffet for breakfast.
Lunch is pretty much the same. They have open seating in the dining room, Windows of the Sea has a theme buffet every day at lunch (italian, mexican, american, carribean). There is also a grill around the pool deck which serves burgers, chicken tenders, a mongolian grill, etc... The food was 7/10. Some of the items were really good, but others were just medium quality. Lunch kind of got old every day. We usually just opted for a couple items in the them buffet and a burger/mongolian from the pool deck.
Dinner was buffet/grill again, or you can eat in the dining room. The dress code most nights in the dining room is called "Cruise Casual". People pretty much wore whatever they wanted, except you can't wear cutoff jeans, sleeveless shirts, etc...
One night was "Cruise Elegant" in which most people wore dresses, shirt/ties, suits, etc... However, I did see some kids wearing shorts and tie-die shirts which surprised me.
Dinner in the dining room was different every night and most items were very good. The desserts were awesome as well.
Sushi was served on the promenade every night beginning at 5PM and was very good!!!
Overall, breakfast and lunch were the same thing every day pretty much, but dinner was changed around. Food was always available to eat and if you go hungry, it is your own fault.
Activities/Night Life: The activities during the day were few and far between. We spent most of our time on deck lounging or in the casino gambling. The casino was pretty good for a cruise ship.
The "dance club" was lame and hardly anyone went in it at night. It was disappointing.
Next door was the "Cat's Lounge" where they had a live band that was very good! I think they were called "PS Lights" and they performed covers of lots of popular songs, all the way from oldies to classic rock to pop. They were very good and we spent most of our time in there at night>
We went to a couple shows in the Universe Lounge, for example the love game (newlywed) and battle of the sexes. They were entertaining and usually pretty full. The comedian was also very funny. It was 18+ only and for good reason. It was vulgar and dirty.
The wait staff on the ship was good and fast. They were always around asking if you'd like anything, very courteous, and knew of every drink we asked for.
Room: We had an oceanview room on the Riviera deck and it was always kept clean and spotless by the steward. The bed was very comfortable and we had anything we needed.
Debarkation: This is the only gripe I had about the entire trip. There were 2 options for debarkation:
1. Self-Assist: This is where you begin debarkation at 6:15AM and you take your own luggage off the ship when your hall is announced.
2. General Debarkation: This is after the self-assist and your luggage was taken from your room the night before so you just get off the ship and then find your luggage in the warehouse.
We chose to do the self-assist because we wanted to get off the ship quickly and begin heading home.
We woke up at 5:45AM so we would be ready for it to begin at 6:15AM. They began calling halls at 615AM, but our hall (Riviera odd) was the last hall to be called at 8:30AM. Yes, 2 hours later.
THen there was a HUGE traffic jam of passengers and suitcases in the hall. They began the general debarkation before we even made it to the elevator. Therefore, those folks who waited to get off last actually got off before everyone else.
IT was a big mess and a pain in the butt. They really need to rethink the debarkation method.