BACKGROUND INFO: Overall, our experience was a REALLY positive one! We are first time cruisers so the fear of the unknown was a really big factor!! I booked from Holland directly- i had a cruise consultant(Jason) who I believe could have been more helpful than what he was. He was very vague at answering my questions and when I spoke to someone else- he got "upset"- stating that HE was MY cruise consultant and that he had ALOT of EXPERIENCE doing this- so if I wanted to make changes or ask questions, I had to go through HIM! Next time, I think Ill book from another source. We ended up staying in a Deluxe Verandah Suite. However- we started with an interior stateroom and kinda of worked my way up- which could have been avoided if I had more experience and if Jason would have been more helpful. Booking one and than trying to change to another room was a BIG challenge!! I booked early thinking I would get the best prices- little did I know that the best prices are posted closer to the cruise date! however, its a gamble because the rm you want may already be taken. We also learned alot from speaking to other guest while on the cruise. we met a couple that this was their 25th cruise! they payed something like $400 p/p for a rm with view. They shared info that we will certainly use in our next cruise.
I have to say that we were not disappointed though!! the ship is beautiful and very clean. the food was very good and diverse. the ladies at the Neptune Lounge were so nice and always willing to assist. The Wine Cellar Master was really friendly and helpful when it came to any "wine issues". Our stewards were excellent as well. Room service is not very good- but we were hungry at 3:00 am so, it was alright. the wine packages are extremely over priced!! there is not a bottle in navigator's nor in the Admiral's that is regularly more than $15. we ended paying up appx. 3x as much per bottle!! but we had no choice and we were having a good time so, we bought in!! They do allow you to take in your own bottle which I STRONGLY recommend, however- unfortunately we did not have the opportunity to do so prior to boarding. Our room was really nice- with the exception of carpet stains! we had plenty of room and storage. Its true-the overall crowd in the ship is "older" however, people tend to stay with age groups at times. We did not really feel out of place! If you are looking for a party ship though- this IS NOT IT!! we did dance practically everyday at the Norther Lights- the DJ there pretty much plays genre of music that he sees the crowd is enjoying. Not alot of people went there so it never felt crowded.
ENTERTAINMENT/ACTIVITIES/DINNING:as far as entertainment on board is concerned- they had some comedy shows- they were ok. some of the dancing shows we found boring. Jenny and the Hal Cats were a pretty good band. they also played at the queens lounge- that was fun and like I mentioned before, the Norther lights for us was nice because we did dancing which we normally dont do but really enjoy.
the activities on board- some were fun to watch- like a group of people diving into the cold water pool in some contest or other- we did the kitchen tour- that was interesting and entertaining. we also did the wine tastings- and we attend mass a few times as well as use the gym. There was a 5k walk on board to raise monies for breast cancer- that was alot of fun. I was surprised to see that many people participated. we mostly hung out at the crows nest in the evenings- they had a few things going on there like music trivia (we didnt participate) but we sat there to mingle with other guests and enjoy the fantastic view from indoors.
The Spa- i did a couple of treatments at the spa. they were ok but not great for the price. the facial was alright. the full body massage was ok- the best part was overseeing the ocean and actually saw a whale while i was there!!
Very cool!! i did the tour on day one and that's what got me to buy the stuff- however, be careful when buying and scheduling yourself for spa treatments. know for sure what you will be doing that day- and you don't get your explorer (daily activities listings) before hand so wait and see if there is other things you would like to do and schedule the spa treatments on your "down time". the hydro pool and those chairs and the saunas were great except that since they sell it hard day one- most guest take the weeks pass- which means that most than likely the pools and the lounge chairs will be full most of the time!!! and people really don't respect the "15 minute" recommended time of use!! Another thing- wait for the daily specials which will be in your documents left in your room and book then. as the days go by- the specials get better for the spa as well as for everything else.
the on board store sells all their clothing items at 50% off the last day so dont buy until then. they will not run out of anything. if you forget a shawl and/or nice clutch for your formal nights- no worries, they have really nice ones for $10 a piece. I was surprised- $10 for a clutch and some of them are REALLY nice!! They sell alot of jewelry- we weren't buying any- wasn't about to go invest $$ on jewelery on a ship. but i heard if your interested, they have very personalized service- they will have a showcase just for you and personalize it to your interest as well as meet with the "diamond specialist" to purchase your stones. like i said- not for us!!
as far as dinning- make your reservations for the main dinning room day one with the concierge if you can. the pinnacle is definitely worth the price. and you've got to try the canaletto (not much of Italian food lover- but it was very good dinning). the location for the canaletto is weird- its located in the lido deck- in the morning it is part of the buffet but by evening the section a part off and it transforms in to a separate restaurant. by far my favorite was the pinnacle and since we had the Deluxe Verandah Suite- we had breakfast there as well. Personally the buffet at the lido is not my style- TOO much food and too many people- but it was good. they push the wine and drinks to much- they kept coming over and over! some people thought it was part of the buffet i guess and ordered wine and beverages- however when they would ask for their room card- they sent it all back..lol.. I thought that was funny- we saw it at least like three times. I guess since they keep asking if you want some... well, anyway. we went to the lido buffet like twice only.
CHILDREN'S CLUB: we did not travel with children so can comment. there were not many children on board- we may have seen no more than 10 children ranging from toddlers to about 10 or so.
DISEMBARKATION: they asked us to have our bags ready and outside our cabin by no later than 1am that night. it would not have been a challenge except that we were in Victoria until midnight so we were kind of rushing to have the bags ready. I suggest you pack before getting off in Victoria so this wont happen. it was kind of difficult having to make sure we had all necessary item for following day- we didn't want to pack it and then realize we were missing something! so word of advice- do it before Victoria. In the morning of disembarkation- again no problem. it was a breeze- got a taxi which took us to the airport. we had an early flight (11:15am). we got there with enough time. I do have to say that the taxi was expensive!! we payed $50 for that ride!!! so if you have another option-take it! we just wanted to make sure we got there in time and the shuttles or buses may have to wait until all passengers are in, cleared, load luggage, etc. if you are under no time constraints- take an alternative mode of transportation other than a taxi!
SUMMARY: Awesome time! No regrets, and were doing it again for sure!!
hope my review help you out some- just remember to have a great time!!
Oh- almost forgot, i did put of the wrist bands, took the motion sickness pills (Dramamine and bonine) as well as take ginger supplements and i used the patch!!!! i took it all- i did not want to be sick- and i wasn't!!! except for one morning that mostly everybody felt it. i felt a little queezy but it didn't stop me from anything. I recommend that you take it all and then decide what to use- whatever is best for you. I used the patch and the pills as well. they said that keeping hydrated and green apples also help- so I did that as well. My husband took nothing and he was fine the whole time.