Our first experience cruising and we loved it. The staff was outstanding and the ship was spotless. I'll break it down a little bit starting with embarkation - we arrived early and got through the check in fairly quickly. Actual embarkation was disorganized but not that bit a deal. Our bags arrived promptly and we had adequate room for our stuff.
The room: I save wire clothes hangers for trips and was glad I took a handful of them (I always leave them when I depart). I'm sure we could have requested additional hangers but it would have meant a wait. NO COFFEE POT in the rooms on this ship. But we requested one at the guest service desk and it was there that evening. Real cream in the service, so that was nice. The hair dryer sucks. I have short hair and it took forever to dry my hair.I can't imagine what people with long hair have to endure. Beach towels are in the room - no need to bring your own and you can pick up extra towels on the pool deck. No one checked our key card when I got extra towels but I think they are supposed to. The towel animals were awfully cute each night. Our steward was wonderful. The beds are hard as rocks and the pillows are flat, flat, flat. But there are extra pillows in the closet so you can make up for the flatness with quantity.
The Food: We're kind of foodies. We ate in 3 of the specialty restaurants- La Trattoria, Cagney's Steak House and Le Bistro and would never do that again. The worst was Cagney's - over priced by far. The ship has excellent breads but for some reason Cagney's served ordinary soft dinner rolls. La Trattoria was so-so and Le Bistro was good, but not for the price. Windows and The Garden Room were just as good. Windows is a beautiful room but noisy. The Garden Room is more intimate. Blue Lagoon has great light meals/finger food. The fish and chips were good as were the wings. We loved the breakfasts in Raffles but the dinner buffet was horrible. The food was cold and the selection poor. By the way, we brought a 12 pack of water and a 12 pack of soda on board with no problems at all.
Shore excursions are standard - Tabayana Beach Party was our favorite. Great snorkeling right off the beach. Edible lunch. The beach was the best. Lots of lounges and some available shade. The casino was OK. By the end of the week we were sick of the available slots, but they were pretty loose and we came away even for the week. Entertainment was good. The Russian acrobats were good, Second City was hilarious. The highly touted Elements show was OK, but I confess I slept through a lot of it. Getting off the ship was easy - we did the walk-off and were on shore by 9. All0in-all our first experience on a cruise was positive and we are both looking forward to taking another cruise. We really enjoyed ourselves. Remember, this was our first cruise and we have no basis for comparison. We really had fun!