Hotel Stay: Quick taxi ride from FLL to Hilton Marina. Wonderful views of the Cruise Terminal and docks from our Tower room. Enjoyed walking around the Marina after check-in. Found several restaurants within walking distance to choose from.
Embarkation: Arrived at the Port about 11:30 am, and was on the ship by noon. Our Balcony Cabin was ready, so we dropped off our carry on's and headed to check out the Retreat Family Cabana.
Family Cabana in Retreat Area: When we called to reserve a Cabana, they would not let us choose a specific Cabana or which type (glass or open air enclosure), and we did not want to chance getting the glass, so we booked the corner Family Cabana. We loved the corner cabana, with glass on one side and open air on the other side. We liked the breeze it offered, and when we went into the Cabana's with glass, they weren't hot, but they didn't have a slight breeze either. We could hear the poolside music, which we enjoyed in the afternoons. We had great ocean views in both directions. The pool cover blocked your view of the actual pool, but you could see the jacuzzi's and pool bar area when you stood in the Cabana. When we wanted sun, we enjoyed the center of the Retreat area and met other Cabana guests. We noticed that on several afternoons the 2 attendants (Rain and Brian) generously refilled champagne for several hours, for those who wanted. Other days they would offer 1 or 2 glasses. The attendant service was available, but not intrusive, which we liked. We would definitely get a Cabana again, but only in the Retreat area. It was very private and we did not have any problem with people walking through the area. All entrances were blocked and marked "No Entrance". There were several families in the Cabana area with small children and they were always well behaved. If you enjoy direct pool and/or bar access, and the activities of the pool area, and are not bothered by people walking by your Cabana continuously, then the Lido Cabana are an option.
Ship: The ship was very nice and clean. Instead of one large central atrium area in the middle of the ship, there were many smaller areas to enjoy music, relax, etc. We liked this. The ships colors in the common areas and the state rooms were elegant (earth tones). The Exploration Lounge and Crow's Nest were especially nice. Very large library, Internet cafe (with coffee bar), game area with tables, and next to it, the Crow's Nest bar. Walking track on the covered lower deck was nice (1/3 mi = one lap).
Food- LIDO: Lido food was better than most ships buffet areas. For 2 days the staff served guests, which was wonderful. After they confirmed there was no reported illnesses, they let guests serve themselves. We wish they would continue serving the entire cruise. It does take longer, but the Lido dining feels more elegant with this service and you don't have to worry about impatient people wanting to cut the line, mixing of food, etc. Their desert area featured several types of ice cream. There was a waffle, crepe and pancake station (excellent). Did not care for the omelet bar (very oily), but the separate made to order egg station was good. Worst part of the Lido was the Coffee - had it once, and it was so bad I did not have any more the rest of the week. Good tea selection.
Food - MAIN DINING: Excellent. Compared to food on other cruises this was one of the best. We typically eat at other restaurants (fee dining) a few times during a cruise, but enjoyed the main dining food so much, we chose to eat in Rembrandt each night. Lamb, Crab and Rib-eye with Blue Cheese were some of our favorite. Coffee was good in the Main Dining. Service was very good as well.
Guests - This cruise offered a great mix of ages, probably equal numbers of 20-30, 30-40, 40-50 and 60up. This cruise was during Presidents/Winter Break for certain schools throughout the U.S., which probably contributed to the variety of guests. There were approx 125 kids aged 12-17, which was a nice number of kids. Our son enjoyed the Teen Club, which had many activities, including a Prom Night on formal night. All the kids enjoyed voting for their King & Queen and having other Prom activities.
Overall, excellent cruise.