We stayed in a family balcony and loved it. There were two VERY deep drawers that were under the couch and I could fit all of my kids clothes in each drawer. We had room to hang all of mine and my husbands clothes in the closet and we put all of our suitcases (5) under the bed. There was alot of cabinet space for misc things and we had no problem staying organized with all 4 of us in the room. Some people had complained about the way that the shower and toilet were set up but again we didnt have any problems. If they had the balcony door open while I was in the shower i would just pull the drape closed for more privacy. Some people also complained of condensation from the shower and/or getting the floor wet when you got out of the shower but I never noticed ANY condensation and if the floor did get a little wet it was fine because there was a laminate hard wood flooring just outside the bathroom and shower that cleaned up easily. The bed was VERY comfortable. Also I enjoyed having 2 Nickelodeon stations on the tv for the kids to unwind at night. I had brought a portable dvd/tv player just in case but we actually never used it.
The food in the main dining rooms (Taste & The Manhatten) were comparable to other main dining rooms on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. One side of the menu changed everyday and the other side was the same every night. The Manhatten requires men to wear pants and women to wear shorts or capris longer than the knee. Taste didnt have a dress code but they have the same menu. We found that the food in Taste, all though made in the same kitchen, was better than the Manhatten and we couldnt figure out why but our waitress told us it was because the kitchen was on the same floor whereas when you ate at the Manhattan they had to go downstair to get your food so it was more likely to be cold. Also at Taste, there isnt a view of the ocean. The buffet was good, nothing spectacular, also comparable to other cruises Ive been on before. It was almost always busy because unlike Carnival and Royal Caribbean the main dining rooms (Manhattan & Taste) werent open for breakfast :( Taste was open for lunch but they had very short hours, I want to say 12-1:30? But the Buffet is HUGE. As for the restaraunts that require extra money, we went to Moderno which was EXCELLENT. Definately have to go if you like meat. We were served filet mignon, bacon wrapped chicken, two different kinds of sausage, lamb, another kind of red meat, and others I can't remember. They just keep brining it around till you dont want anymore. We tried a bite of everything but were too stuffed for seconds of anything. They serve you rice, beans, fried plantains, and french fries with dinner and you also get a really good salad buffet. We also went to Shanghai, the chinease restaraunt. It was really good also. Definately try the banana pancakes here fore dessert! The sushi bar was my favorite! Ive had very good sushi & this was comparable to the best that I have ever had. VERY fresh fish! A must try if you like sushi! On our last night we went to Teppanyaki which was DELICIOUS! I had the filet and shrimp and it was soooo good. The rice was delicious also and our chef was very entertaining. We didnt get a chance to eat at the other restaraunts that required money but I heard the steak restaraunt, Cagneys, was very good.
THE POOL- The pool area was ALWAYS packed, like any other cruise when you have good weather. The kids really enjoyed the splash pool, which wasnt really ever crowded. The slides were fun, from what I heard lol I sent my husband on them but I stayed back with the kids. On the last day when we were in the Bahamas we came back a little bit earlier to get on the boat and the pool area was practically empty so we took advantage and even got 2 of the day beds they had to relax on. During the day they played good music and also had Slime Time Live by the pool a couple of times which was fun to watch.
THE SPA- So the first day I booked a facial for the second day. My son the second day wasnt feeling well so I called to rebook and of course they gave me a snotty attitude (Ive experienced this on other cruises also) . I told them I was happy to reschedule I just wasnt able to go that day. I had the second cheapest facial and it was 126 without the gratuity they automatically charged, so it ended up being 149. My estetichian was VERY nice and my experience was really good. Ive had other facials and I enjoyed this one the most. From the beginning I basically told her I wouldnt be buying any of the products because I know they are known for pushing the products. So at the end she gave me her honest opinion of what I should get for the bare minimum and then other things she thought I could also use. Well the bare minimum, cleanser, toner and mosturizer would have cost $300!!!! And the price for the extras and the others would have cost $675! OMG I could go on another cruise for that price! I told her I would think about it! YEAH RIGHT! lol
RECESS (kids camp)- I have a 5 year old (she turned 6 the day after we got home from vacation) and a 2 year old. My 2 year old has never been to daycare or babysat by anyone other than family so I was worried about that. My 5 year old ended up having to be with the 2-5 year old group which I though would have bored her but I was okay with it because I knew she would then be with her brother. I sent them the first day and my daughterLOVED it! My son wasnt too sure but we had them stay for about an hour and a half to get adjusted and figured we would send them again the next day. WELLL I guess they were playing some Monster Tag game and my son became upset and scared so they called us. Im not sure why they couldnt calm him down? So after that he wouldnt go back to camp because he said there were "guys" that said Rarrrr... Soooo my daughter of course went everyday for hours on end and LOVED it while my son was stuck with us the entire time :( I wish they counselors would have been a little more attentive and made him feel better about the situation and maybe he would have felt more comfortable going. But there is always next time! :)
CASINO- I didnt spend but a half an hour here. Many people complained of the size but I didnt find it obnoxious at all, of course Im from Vegas.... From what I heard the machines were very tight and I didnt here of anyone winning. I personally would rather spend my money on something else but to each there own. I also didnt notice that it was overly smokey like others said. Im not a smoker and it does bother me if its blown into my face but I had no problems walking through the casino to get to the restaraunts or wherever I was going. If you really want to avoid it all together then just map out where you are going and make sure you are by the correct set of elevators so you dont have to walk all the way across the ship to the other side.
NICKELODEON- My kids LOVED seeing the characters. We went to the Nickelodeon breakfast which was OKAY. They sang and danced around for about 5 minutes and then they called you up by table number to meet and take pictures with all the characters. They took one picture with there camera and they would take one picture with your camera. The breakfast was a little disappointing. We had eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns (all of which are the same in the buffet) AND three teeny tiny banana pancakes served with green syrup. I dont think if we went again I would spend the money to go to this. We were able to see all the characters, do meet and greets and take pictures for free at other scheduled times throughout our week. You don't have to pay to see them. Make sure you check out the sailing away party with Spongebob on the pool deck while you are leaving! It really sets the mood for a fun week!
PICTURES- They definitely don't take as many pictures here as Carnival or Royal Caribbean. Around 6 pm every night they had 2 picture stations set up on the floor where the main dining room was and then 2 or 3 downstairs by the Internet cafe. The pictures are of course $20 a piece but if you really want to get alot for your money we learned that you could purchase EVERY SINGLE PICTURE they took of you plus a disk of all the pictures & a book with all the pictures for $400. This may sound like a lot but if you take advantage of it it definitely pays for itself. We did family pictures, pictures for my daughters bday, pictures of just the couples, etc. We ended up with about 85 pictures which would have cost $1700. And we have the disk so we can make other sizes to hand out for gifts or Christmas cards. We saw alot of families who already knew about this because they would come down to take pictures with matching outfits or jeans and white t shirt which is popular and then would go and change into something else and take 20 more pictures. I would HIGHLY recommend this.
I cant think of anything else to say other than this was an amazing experience. I loved the freestyle cruising and found it MUCH easier with small children.