We arrived at Port Everglades for boarding at about 11AM. It was the smoothest embarcation ever. In less than 15 minutes we were on the ship and shocked when shortly later it was announced that all cabins were now ready! We were slighly underwhelmed at the ship. Our last cruise on Celebrity Equinox was a brand new ship and it was spectacular in very way. The cruise before that was Celebrity Solstice (sister ship) which was equally impressive. There is no grand staircase/atrium on this ship. The decorations are generally cheap looking black and white posters on the hallway walls of NYC. Clean and okay, but not spectacular. It appeared that most of the wall coverings, fabrics, art, etc., were done at a budget level and did not reflect what should be found on a luxury ship.
Very impressed with the room. We had a superior veranda suite. More storage than any ship I can remember and very conveniently placed. Room included two sinks, jacuzzi tub and shower. Great bed, nice sized balcony. To order "in-room" movies, you have to check out a DVD which seems a little archaic for a new ship instead of ordering it on the set.
For the most part, the staff was wonderful even if a little bit un-motivated. The bartender in the early part of the day at the lido bar at the rear of the ship was nicknamed lemon face by several passengers because of his surly nature. At one point I walked up to the bar, was the only patron while he spoke with an officer. When he finished he looked right at me and then turned to leave without acknowledging me until the offier called him and pointed at me and told him to wait on me. I was so angry that I just said never mind an walked away. I also had difficulty with the assistant manager of the Pinacle Restaurant. We had booked five nights and every time we went there was a problem. Lost "pre-paid" reservations, no tables available when clearly there were, etc. On every cruise I've been on, if you wanted a second entree or appetizer there was no problem. Not here! We were told that there would be an additional surcharge (in addition to the one we had already paid), to order anything extra! When we asked if we could have a dinner entre (macaroni and lobster) as a half portion appetizer, I was told, our chef will not be happy with that. I was floored. He came back and said he doesn't want to do it, but I asked him to make an exception. I told him that I could afford to eat in any restaurant that I chose and don't need to beg a chef to give me a bowl of macaroni" and cancelled all of the rest of my visits to the Pinacle. That being said, the Asian restaurant was friendly and the food spectacular every time that we ate there. The food in the main dining room (open seating) was also pretty good. Not the best in the world, but not the worst. The buffet on the lido deck was a bit of hit and miss. The omlette station for breakfast was great, but several times at other stations the employees were very unhelpful. When I asked if there was more turkey for lunch (dried bits and pieces were all that I could see), I got a curt reply of "no". I heard someone else ask if there was any more balsamic at the salad bar because the bottle was empty and she too was told "no". Pools were both very nice and plenty of nice deck chairs. The gym was a big letdown. Very small as compared to most ships and the free weight area could only accomodate about 3 people. there were machines to use if you wanted to, but often there was a line for them. The free area in the floor was often taken up by customers who paid for fitness classes. The sauna is a joke. It holds no more than three people at a time and every time I went, it had three people and others were walking away because it was full. Entertainment was very average. We have been spoiled by Celebrity doing Circus du Soleil performances I guess. There was one impersonator who was quite funny.
I am not going to comment on the ports of call because we just went for warm weather and beaches. Weather did not cooperate with us a good portion of the trip and we missed several ports which one was made up by going to Key West. Cannot fault the ship for weather.
Another "new inovation" which is a true rip off is that no longer are soda cards unlimited. You pre purchase a fixed amount and they punch a hole in the card. If you buy too many, you don't get a refund. Even worse is the "beverage card". You only save $5.00. The beverage card is supposed to be for any alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage yet when we ordered the "drink fo the day" we were told we could not use the card for that since the drink had been discounted by one dollar already. MAKE YOUR POLICIES CLEAR BEFORE THE SALE IS MADE.
I have to commend the disembarcation. For $19.00 per person, they took our bags, checked them in at the airport and left our boarding passes in our stateroom mailbox the day before. Very, very, very convenient.
All in all, this was a very average ship with very average food and very average entertainment. The cruisers were generally older in the 50 - 60 year old age group. This is our second Holland America cruise and after the first we determined that Holland was our least favorite line. We decided to give it another shot because of the new ship but should have stayed with Celebrity, NCL or Royal Carribbean, all of which are far superior.