OMG!! I cannot understand people that give poor ratings to this ship and especially to the food in the MDR. Our experiences were fantastic, but I am getting ahead of myself, lets start at the beginning.
We were in Cabin 10702. (Balcony, Cat D-7). We are a young 60 year old couple who have been on 7 cruises in the past 5 years (Princess, RC and HAL). We decided on this cruise to see the mega ship, not the destinations (Western Caribbean). The cruise ship was our destination. We have visited those places before. Our cruise was booked through a travel agent and we were part of an informal group of about 20 people. Transfers were part of the package and were great.
Embarkation was smooth and quick, about 4 windows for Deck 10. Got our SeaPass and bordered the ship at about noon. Rooms were not going to be ready until 1 PM, so we headed to the Windjammer Buffet. We were concerned about this since we had read so many horror stories about crowds, poor layout, etc, but we found a table for 2 at the window, proceeded to get a light lunch, hubby had a beer and we were off!! I must say, that when we left, about 30 minutes later, there was a long line outside the buffet and they let a few people in at a time. Glad we beat the crowd!!
Went to our room. New and clean, but very small. The bathroom is the smallest room I have ever had on any of our cruises. HAL has a tub and we knew we were not getting a tub, but the shower took some navigating even for normal size people. The sink was tiny and low and the toilet was standard. In the cabin, not much drawer space and no overhead storage over the sofa like in other cruises. We kept waiting for our bags and it was not until after the mandatory emergency get together and the sail away that we saw them misplaced in front of another cabin 20 doors away!!
We had late seating at a table for 2 that our travel agent had to fight tooth and nail to get. I am so glad she was successful. Our waiter, Razvan, was a gem!! He was the highlight of our trip. He was knowledgeable, cheerful and after the first night, my husband (who is a very good cook and likes GOOD food) never looked at the menu, but let Razvan choose for him. I was not that trusting. The food in the MDR was fabulous. Everything was cooked properly from meats to seafood to veggies and soup. We have never had such good food on a cruise. Scallop rissoto and the scallops were large and cooked just right, lobster tails (2 nice sized tails, not puny looking ones). I could go on and on. Even the Italian dishes, which we rarely pick because we are very picky about our pastas and gravy, were excellent!! The desserts could use more work, they were not bad, but they were not outstanding.
Day 2 we had room service since we were still concerned about the crowds in the Buffet. It was OK. Selection was more limited than on other ships and you always have the concern of space, but they did call 5 minutes prior to delivery with a heads up which is nice.
Spent much of our day time in the solarium. What a fabulous place. No one under 16 allowed. 4 hot tubs, one small pool and a restaurant with healthy choices. We ate there for several lunches and breakfasts. Buffet style, very nice setting, spaces between tables, no crowds and plenty of selections.
Food, in general: Sorrentos pizza, not very good if you know real pizza, Hot Dog House, good for a snack. Caf Promenade, nice small sandwiches for when you get tired of eating a lot (it happens!!) and great cookies. We tried to go to Park Caf in Central Park, but it was raining that day and it was too small and crowded for us. We did venture into the buffet for several light meals and were pleasantly surprised. We always found a place to sit with no trouble. We found the food to be regular buffet fare, no better or worse than other ships. I do like it when buffets are open 24 hours, convenient for a small snack especially in the afternoon this buffet closes from 3:30 to 6:15 and closes at night at about 9. One great find on the last sail day was when we went to the MDR for lunch and they had a salad buffet. You picked what you wanted and a waiter fixed it for you, the selections were enormous and fresh and delicious. Highly recommend that!! We did not visit any of the specialty restaurants. Our waiter was so good in the MDR that I do not think we would have been satisfied, especially since it would have cost us extra.
We had cocktails in the Martini & Champagne Bar, very nice with free hordeorves. Viking Lounge we found the band was too loud. Schooners, had a contest going on in there as soon as we sat down. Drinks are pricey for a cruise ($9.50 for a martini, $7-$8 for frozen drinks).
In general, the ship is gorgeous and the service is great. I know it is hard to believe, but we never felt like we were on a vessel with 6,400 passengers (full cruise) even on the last day when it was raining and very windy and they closed the pools. I do not know where everyone went. Entertainment is fabulous. Something for everyone from toddlers to seniors.
Would I go again, Yes, I would!!