I read so many reviews prior to taking this trip and found them very helpful, so I figure I owe this review to you, and hope it helps in making your decisions as well.
I'm 28, my wife is 24, both of us don't drink or party so this particular ship was perfect for us in that it didn't have the younger, always drunk, party animals all over the ship. The passengers were mainly 40+ with only a few kids here and there.
We were spooked from all the negative reviews saying how the ship is old and nasty and I can tell you that they were over stated. Not that this would matter if you're sailing after Jan 2012 because the ship will be renovated next month. But if you're sailing before then I can tell you that it's a very clean beautiful ship with the exception of the in room washrooms, which had mold that was painted over but still could be seen and smelt. The beds, covers, carpets, drapes, and chair in the room were all old and could have been updated a few years ago. This stuff doesn't really matter unless it was all you focus on. Other public areas had some cracks or rust, the age of the ship did show, but then again these are minor details that didn't change our experience on the ship. Our room was still nice, the balcony suite is a must in my opinion.
Dinner service and food quality were excellent, we had dinner at the Normandy twice and that was amazing...both times. Waterfall cafe on deck 10 was great, we had breakfast there almost everyday, waffles were great, omelets are made the way you ask the 4 cooks available behind the buffet line to make them. Outside this Cafe near the pool was the Waterfall Grill where they make fresh burgers, these were very tasty. The aqua-spa cafe also on deck 10 near the therapy pool served healthier options. We never had dinner at the waterfall cafe. Main Dining room i.e. cosmopolitan restaurant was great. Elegant settings, giant windows in the back, windows all over and around. The food always came out hot, the waiters and the rest of the service staff were always eager to please.
One thing that was special was the fact that everyone remembered my name, room number and most importantly, what I normally order for drinks, or food preference. So by the third day where ever we walked throughout the ship, we were greeted by name and a big smile, then asked if we would like the same drink again or something else. Very impressive!
The cova cafe on deck 5 was where we spent part of our night from 11 to midnight. They serve specialty coffee or teas and Italian pastries while we listen to live classical music by the Mozaika Duo. We sometimes requested our favorites and they knew the songs. The duo even remembered what we requested the previous night and played a different piece by the same composer when we showed up the next night! We enjoyed this part of our night every single night as we both love classical music and tea.
We had a couples massage the first night, it was great but pricey (almost $400 including the hot-stone add on). The Spa staff are great though... The therapy pool has 4 large spouts that pour water with a force into the 4 corners of this pool. standing under these spouts is actually a very good massage, for free! In this pool there are also two areas on opposite sides with neat features that are very relaxing.
The Theater had three production shows which were good, aimed to please the older generations but we still enjoyed them. Rondell Sheridan was the comedian on 2 nights, hilarious. One night had a comedy rock and roll show by Kimika, we didn't like that show.
On the excursions we mostly did some snorkeling, stingrays in Antigua, Turtles in St. Thomas. Caves and Orchid world in Barbados. In each island we walked outside the gates of the pier to get our own taxi and arranged our excursions for almost half as much as the ships rates and in less time. For example in Barbados we went to Harrisons caves, Orchid World, snorkeling, then sightseeing ending in the north at Bathsheba. This cost $200 including the entrance fees, and we were done by 3:30 If we went through the ship it would have been more than $400 and not possible to do it all because the times wouldn't be sequential like that. The trip to stingray city in Antigua would've been the same or $10 more through the ship so the cost isn't much different there but again the time is wasted waiting for a group to assemble and move together. We did the trip to turtle cove in St Thomas through the ship only because we couldn't find an alternative.
Overall it was a great trip. The service was above and beyond, food quality/variety was great. We would do it again for sure.