Ship Info: The ship was extremely clean. We were very impressed with the shape the ship was in. We were told a recent remodel had been done, so we lucked out. But the facilities were all so clean. And the ship itself was easy to navigate which we thought would be confusing. The touch screen information stations were extremely helpful, we used many times a day!
Activities: We found that there was a lot of activities on the ship, but not too many that struck our interest. Or the activities conflicted with our dining times, etc. We did like the fact that you didn't have to really wait in line for anything. And the self-serve areas were great, like miniature gold and ping pong. Your supplies were right there, you didn't have to check-in or go to a desk to get the equipment, for example.
Service: The service was excellent. It was really neat to see the staff from all different parts of the world. They were extremely friendly and helpful. And no matter how rushed, they were still very thorough and friendly and kept their cool. They were all really funny too!
Port & Shore Excursions: Belize & Cozumel for us on this trip. Belize was ok. There wasn't much to choose from as far as excursions. We booked our excursions months in advance so they were all open for signing up for. We did the Adventures of the Lost Mayan cave. Very dissapointed as this was one of the more expensive ones. It took us almost 1.5 hrs to get to our destination that called for extremely bumpy roads. If you have slight motion sickness, be prepared with your ginger gum and other tactics (as I was thank goodness!). The rapelling/zip lining/cave crawling was just "ok". In Cozumel, we did the ATV Jungle ride which we really liked a lot. We love ATVs so it was perfect and challenging enough so we weren't bored. They keep you separated if part of the group is slower which is really great. But it was quality as far as time on the ATVS and you stopped for Mayan ruins and some history which was nice. Only a quick 20 min bus ride through the city to the ATV area. Which is GREAT!
Travel To Port of Embarkation: We just took a taxi ourselves from the airport in Ft Lauderdale to the port. It was a quick 15 min taxi ride, and it cost us around $13-$15 (i can't remember). Quick and painless process.
Stateroom: Much bigger than we thought it would be. 6626 was our room, which was right in the middle and RIGHT around the corner from the stairwell, VERY convenient otherwise you would have to walk down a really long hallway! Recommend!.. But it was very very clean and roomy. We were really dissapointed in the tv channel selection however. There was only about 5 channels that you could really watch. 1 movie channel that was in English. And several in other languages. So late night tv watching was a big fail. The movies you could "rent" were very expensive $12!... So we ditched that idea immediately.
Dining: Well, this part was what fell below our expectations out of the whole cruise. We expected better quality/taste of food. There was a lot of food at all times, but really the food was the same in each area you went. For example, the same pizza on the buffet you can find at Sorrento's. Or the pumpkin soup on the dining room menu could be found on the buffet that night too. We found ourselves eating the same food over a lot. As far as taste goes, we were underimpressed. The food was "ok". We ate in the Windjammer/Jade buffets for breakfast and lunches and then every night for dinner we did the formal dining room. We also snacked at the other venues at Sorrento's and Promenade cafe. So we tried it all. There wasn't anything that we ate or a dinner we ate that we said "THAT WAS GREAT!"... We are restaurant people by trade, so we know the business. So we can appreciate the mass volume aspect of the operation, however taste was poor. Even the items we paid for: Seattle's Best Coffee (latte) was extremely watery and I did not finish. And the Ben & Jerry's ice cream was super mushy, not what you would normally get at a Ben & Jerry's stand. However, all food was edible and do-able for a filler.
Children's Clubs: We only looked in the windows at these, as we did not travel with kids. But the kids looked like they were having a BLAST! We were very surprised at how many toddlers and BABIES even were on the cruise. Very kid-friendly, but never a time that we noticed got in the way of an adult vacation as there were adult only areas.
Entertainment: The quiz shows and contests were very funny and great. THe cruise Director is HILARIOUS... and we enjoyed watching him anytime he was around, which seemed like every minute everyday he was everywhere! ... We saw the Ice Show ENCORE which was REALLY great and SHORT. Which is good when you don't want a show to get in the way of any other activities. A couple of falls but entertaining and for someone like my husband who dislikes things like that, he enjoyed it. Saw Kung Fu Panda 2 in 3D, which again we are not cartoony people but REALLY enjoyed the 3D aspect and the movie was good too!! The entertainment aspect of the cruise was great!
Disembarkation: Now this was a nightmare! .. We wanted to leave first thing as we had no checked luggage and wanted to try and get an early flight out home. We ran ate breakfast and attempted to arrive at the gangway spot 15 minutes prior to the time it would open only to find MASSIVE amounts of people. The 1st floor where the gangway was, was filled, so the elevators even wouldn't go down, so we ended up on the 2nd floor, where we were the last to fill a tiny little opening. There were floods of people standing in the stairwell from the 3rd floor trying to come down. I started to get hot and felt like I needed air. We waited there for over 30 mins, which was absurd. It was a fire hazard and was so unorganized. There were people angry and shouting everywhere. So when they opened the doors, EVERYONE started moving and you had to carry ALLL of your luggage down stairs, luckily we only had one flight to go down. But I can't imagine people on higher floors, they needed to have that done that more organized. It felt like throughout the cruise if you were early somewhere, didn't matter, you still got screwed. The people who were later got the better end of the deal.
Overall we say that cruising is a good value for your money. Just go into it with the mindset that the food will be mediocre but you won't be bored. You need to be smart about the type of ship you choose and how it will suite your needs. Also, keep in mind about your state of being for excursions as some require travel before you get to it. Pack lightly, as we found ourselves wearing things over and over again. Don't try and get to areas early thinking you will be at the front of the line, doesn't even matter. In fact we started showing up to dinner 5 minutes later as it was faster than waiting in a massive crowd of people who push their way to the front.