1) If you are a true foodie sign up for the Chefs Table. Its $75 per person and worth every penny. They only do it once or twice on the cruise and its limited to 14 people. Sign up as soon as you get on board. You get a private tour of the kitchen (which was amazingly clean and enormous), appetizers in the kitchen and then a 10 course (or somewhere around that number) meal that includes white and red wine. We did this on my birthday and it was the best part if the entire ship. The food on the ship was good (above average in the dining rooms and middle of the road at the buffet). We are not buffet people so we either ate breakfast in the dining room every day or ordered room service. Do yourself a favor and sign up for early dining if you have kids. We ate at 6 every night and we were done by 7:30. Big shout out to Viktoria our waitress....she was simply the best and was one of the highlights of our trip.
2) We were really surprised with the size of our room. We aren't cruisers so I had visions of being stuffed in a cubby hole for 5 days. Our room was clean (except for the male enhancement wrappers we found under the bed...hint to the staff they may want to check under the bed when cleaning) and my son loved the towel animals...except for the hanging monkey which freaked him out.
3) Cost...this is a huge highlight. So many people complained about this cruise that when I booked it I really didn't know what to expect. For $600 per person all in you really need to take a hard look at your overall expectation and adjust it accordingly. Sure there wasn't someone sitting next to my chair rubbing my feet and feeding me grapes, the buffet was disappointing (the dining room was good), the staff trying to get you to purchase booze can be annoying at times but they are also attentive and right there when you need them. Honestly, its $600 per person not $6000.
The Not so Greats.....
1)Two of my disappointments that stuck out time and time again were the pools (they are unheated and freezing) and the fact that there are no snacks at the bars. We loved sitting and listening some of the entertainers (some of them were downright awful) but it would have been nice to have something salty to snack on at the table. Our bar bill would have been much larger......
2) The Canadian ports with kiddos in tow are just so so. We didn't sign up for any tours as I wanted some breathing room and time to just wander around. it poured in St John so we were limited to running between stores and ale houses (not an issue on my end but I can see how this gets old fast). Halifax was nice, the boardwalk is a nice leisurely stroll but by 3 we were ready to get back on board.
3) Signage on the ship....a few signs or maps around the joint would really help us out. The staff was always helpful in pointing you in the right direction but its easy to get lost.
Overall I would give this trip an 8 out of 10. I am sure that experienced cruisers would probably give it a lower rating as there are better cruises out there. However, since this was our first cruise (we did Disney 15 years ago but I don't really count that)I have to give it two thumbs up......my suggestion to those "picky" cruisers is to find a ship that caters to your needs. If you paid a fortune for this cruise and expected it to be the Rolls Royce of vacations then you didn't do your research well.
Now if I could just stop the rocking feeling like I am still on boat all would be well in the world. have fun...isn't that what it really is all about anyways?