I was lucky enough to be invited on the 2 day cruise which launched the ship. I have sailed on Eclipse and Equinox so am familiar with this class of ship.
Some new areas were great, others not so!
The Porch looked wonderful, like a little bit of New England, it is in the place where the Lawn Club shop used to be so has fabulous views, I think it will be very popular; as will the Lawn Club Grille - unfortunately we did not get a chance to eat there.
I wasn't too keen on the Cabanas, there is little privacy as they face on to the lawn, I think they should be the other way round so you can watch the sea. There are new hammocks and super-sized chairs on the lawn as well and I think the 2 new eateries and the new seating areas will draw a lot more people up there now and the comments that the 'grass is a waste of space' should now stop.
The Sunset bar is as fabulous as ever. There appeared to be more seating.
The dining room is red and cream so appears much 'warmer' than the earlier designs. The Hideaway area looked a great place to curl up with a good book - again the chairs in the 'treehouses' face the wrong way they should look out over the lifts so you can people watch IMO!
In the bedrooms they have done away with the ghastly leatherette sofa and it is now red material - still uncomfortable and still no more drawer space. They have also removed the magazine rack on the corner of the unit for some reason. No kettles in the rooms unlike Eclipse. Still no hanging facility in the bathroom for your wet swimmies. They have got rid of the silly taps too - it doesn't stick out over the sink any more in the bathroom so you don't bash your teeth or your chin now.
Michaels Club looked very different - 3 big fridges of beers. It didn't seem right to call it MC any more - think they should have changed the name! It seemed cold and soulless. Bring back the piano player and cosy atmosphere please.
They have removed the curved banquette seating in TG too - it appears much larger now.
They have also taken away the water feature by the pool to provide more seating areas. They have also taken away the bar at the back of the buffet area, so again more seating.
Several staff from Eclipse were on board that we recognised including Bernard the singing greeter in the Ocean View; and the fabulous Roul. It seems they take their best staff and put them on the new ships. I could do without Nick Wier though. I didn't go to the shows.
Food and service was excellent during this short cruise. We noticed all smokers kept to the designated areas; but I do wish they would stop smoking in the Sky lounge too though. There were a lot of Italians on board ergo there was a lot of smoking!
We ate in Tuscan Grille - possibly the best piece of fillet I have had in my life, and we also ate in Blu (remember this was not a normal cruise) - after reading all the comments on Blu I was very interested to see what it was like. I had a delicious risotto. I would certainly be tempted to book AQ on a future cruise
All in all I think that X have raised the bar with this new ship. She is beautiful and most of the new changes are a definite improvement.