We arrived a few days early and drove to Key West for two nights. The night before embarkation we spent at the Pembroke Pines Hampton Inn. The hotel met our needs but one of the rooms smelled distinctly mouldy. Free breakfast and parking was provided and the price was right so all in all not too bad. The next morning we dropped our rental car off at the Port Everglades location and caught their shuttle to the pier.
Embarkation was the quickest we've ever experienced. We arrived at the pier around 11:30am and were on the ship before noon. There were no lines and the check in staff were friendly and efficient.
Once on board we were in awe of the ship. We had lunch at the Park Cafe and ran into a couple we had met on a previous cruise (small world)! We went up to the flowrider deck to check them out and saw a bunch of people standing in line so joined them though we weren't sure what the line was for at the time. It turned out that everyone needs to get a wrist band before you can go on the flowriders, rock climbing walls or zip line even if you have already signed all your waivers. Once that was taken care of our 12 year old was keen to try the stand up surfing. His last cruise on Freedom of the Seas he was not tall enough so was excited to try it this time. By the end of the week he was doing 360's on the surfboard!
We ate dinner every night in the main dining room. We had my time dining but ended up eating at the same time every night but the first as we needed a large table for our family and our friends who were cruising with us. The food was always good but not incredible. We had the same table and wait staff every night and while they were efficient and friendly our main waiter (who was female) was somewhat stiff and did not develop the same rapport we are used to having with the waiters. Our children missed the tricks that waiters on previous cruises had always done for them.
We usually ate breakfast in the Solarium cafe. It tended to be crowded but I loved the grilled vegetables and fresh berries available there. Lunch was usually a sandwich or pizza. We ate at Chops grille one lunchtime. The service was fantastic (John was our waiter) but my steak was overcooked. Not sure if I would pay for dinner there if I didn't have a free coupon. The kids ate in Johnny Rockets one day and loved it. The burgers were huge. The onion rings looked delicious and the shakes were thick and creamy.
We went to all the shows except Hairspray which we had seen in London. The shows were okay but not up to the caliber of shows we had seen on previous cruises. The singers were frequently off key in Come Fly with Me. The actual diving segments of Oasis of Dreams were incredible but there was a lot of weird filler stuff I could have done without. The Headliner show was Abbacadabra the week we were there. Once again they were pretty good but we were not wowed by them. One of the comedians in the comedy show was hilarious the other one not so good. Our children all love comedy but because they were under 18 they could not attend. We missed the family friendly comedy show that our previous cruises had.
We did not use the Spa but used the fitness centre every day. I was disappointed that it wasn't bigger and it was often hard to get a machine at peak times. The jogging track was awesome. Unlike other ships we had been on the running track was on deck 5 and was totally covered so that even in the middle of the afternoon you were out of the sun and it was quite comfortable to run.