There are a number of positives, so I'll begin there: beautiful ship, tremendously cordial, supportive and friendly crew throughout, certain aspects of freestyle very inventive and desirable, fairly smooth dining procedures, consistently tasty soups both hot and especially so cold, SOME fine entertainment, entrees, same with appetizers, (less so with desserts). I can imagine a number of people would be desirous of returning possibly to the Dawn and Norwegian's operation, but would I? No-it's simply no contest when compared foodwise to Celebrity and from what I hear about HAL and Princess as well.
Here we go: It's nearly impossible to get a hot cup of coffee in the three main dining rooms;thus the choice is medium tolerable warmth without milk or cold enough to soak a finger with.
Upstairs in the garden cafe, where the food is- putting it kindly-uneven in quality. the self pour coffee is always hot, never encountered that problem, but who wants to travel six stories to get a decent cuppa?
The entrees: 1/3 quite good, 1/3 tolerable, 1/3 very inadequately prepared or lacking in quality ingredients. Appetizers and especially desserts, were well below the norm on Celebrity's Millennium series ships. If the food is Italian, it's almost always poor, whether in the dining rooms or "specialty Italian restaurant." I've had better in mall chain restaurants. For such a wonderful environment, the French menu is a cliche, which suggests a very limited understanding of that culture's food subtlety. The artwork may be Vincent Van Gogh, but the menu reads paint by numbers.
Cagney, the steakhouse, is a ripoff. Only those for whom price means nothing should bother.
There is no free news daily as is common on some other lines; finding out what's going on in the world other than from TV costs almost four dollars in a reprinted yet abbreviated copy of newspapers.
For seasoned cruisers, there is next to nothing imaginatively innovative or special to do during the day, although the art sales were well done. Speaking of (daily) specials, they are NOT generous when it comes to drink prices-- way too much needless PA repetition of what's in the daily activity sheets.
The BBQ glue--uhh sauce- ribs, any chicken or meats off the bone, stews of any kind, all tended to be dry and/or pedestrian. Some of the less traditional, non euro/North American food was quite nicely done.
The evening entertainment was at best uneven, some of it good as in the two singers and house band, some of it less often so as in the comedy and production numbers, although about half of the latter ensemble numbers worked fairly nicely. Although a nice enough fellow, the cruise director seemed a bit of a cliche, very mundane save for a good memory.
Oh yes, if people have an option to wear whatever they wish, set aside different dining rooms for different attire. It's silly to see 1/3 of the people "dressed to the nines" while surrounded by others much more casually attired.
My wife and I truly wanted to like this cruise more. Everyone's attitude toward help is so incredibly nice, excellent itinerary, theoretically solid value, the freestyle option is creative and has some excellent and-with a few years practice-now consistently managed options and the ship is lovely, but hey -- hot coffee? Uniformly decent menu choices in terms of an acceptable quality norm? A serious upgrade of nearly half the entertainment options? That's a whole lotta concession, too much for me!