A quick intro -- we are in the 55-60 range, very active lifestyles and this was our 2nd cruise (Bermuda cruise several years ago). We are not cruise experts by any stretch but I just can't believe all the people that spend the money and time to go on a cruise, then find ways to complain about their vacation!
We flew from Baltimore to Ft Lauderdale on the morning of the cruise with no problems. We got a ride from the airport to the cruise terminal by a relative in the area, arrived at noon and we were in our cabin by 12:15. Amazingly quick and simple check-in process. Even our cabin (mini-suite on the Dolphin deck) was ready. Very, very nice and spacious with an extra sitting room, a full bathroom and our first balcony (I will never cruise without a balcony again). Concerning the Dolphin exposed balconies...not an issue with us. It never got that hot, I didn't really care if people could look down on us (it was very rare that anyone else was out on their balconies anyway) and it made the cabin feel that much more open.
The ship is beautiful. We spent the first few hours exploring the dining rooms, buffet areas, pools, lounges, casino, library, internet area, etc...
Dining: We signed up for Traditional 6:00 dining at a table for 8. I was hoping that we would sit with 3 other couples through the cruise. The first night, we sat with 2 couples travelling together. They were nice but we felt like we were intruding. They were changing their seating anyway to join up with 2 other couples. The next night, we sat by ourselves at a table for 8! That was it for our Traditional Dining experience. From then on, we switched to Anytime Dining. There have been some negative remarks concerning Anytimg Dining (probably why we didn't sign up for it in the first place). However, as a 2-some, we were always seated within 5-10 minutes (no reservations) with other couples. Everyone was friendly and the service (and food) was excellent. The only problem is that dinner took 2 hours so make sure to leave enough time if you want to catch a show. We also ate several breakfasts in the dining room -- also excellent food and service. I would suggest, if you are a couple who doesn't mind eating with other people, sign up for Anytime. I got the impression that most tables in Traditional were large groups and families travelling together.
Buffet: This was probably the weakest part of the cruise. The setup is confusing (sometimes the Caribe was open, sometimes Horizon), it was difficult to find all the food and sometimes even more difficult to find a seat. The food was so-so compared to the dining rooms. But the view was nice!
International Cafe: Excellent! Try it sometime.
Trident Grill and Pizza by the pool: Also excellent!
Entertainment: The first night was kindof a waste of a show. Lots of talking from the cruise director and staff. We were finally treated to a short set from the comedian (I forget his name). The next night, we saw his full set and we were in tears from laughing so hard. There was also another hysterical comedian the last few nights. Other production shows were OK. The Motown show was technically good but somewhat sanitized. The hypnotist show was just plain boring and silly. We did enjoy some of the trivia contests and other games throughout the week. We also took advantage of several Movies Under The Stars.
Staff: Everyone we came in contact with was friendly, smiling and helpful - from the girl who served ice cream to the waiters to the room stewards. If you're eating at a buffet, it wouldn't hurt you to get up and get your own coffee! These people are working hard!
Disembarkation: We had a relatively late time since our flight was at 1:30 PM. We walked down to the specified meeting place at 10:15 and we were off the ship by 10:20, through customs by 10:30.
Overall, all excursion disembarkations were well organized.
See Port Review details below.