As seasoned cruisers, we have an appreciation of the many facets on a vessel that may escape the eye of a novice. You must understand the most important point -- I have never met a cruise that I did not like. And, this includes this one. That is why we cruise and will continue to enjoy the benefits of cruising.
The ship -- Stunning to the eye with many different venues to enjoy. Quite frankly, even though this was a 12 night cruise we did not have the opportunity to enjoy everything the ship had to offer. Our dinning experiences did not take in all the various options and were limited to the Ocean View Cafe, MDR, and Tuscan. We heard many positive comments about the other specialty restaurants from our fellow travelers.
The bathroom was roomy. The shower was a little bigger than on most ships and greatly appreciated by many of us. Although the actual size of the stateroom and balcony may have been of equal or better square footage, but somehow, they both felt very tight. The TV was great. The bed was very comfortable and the position of the bed alternated (by the entry or by the balcony) room by room. Our bed was by the balcony which I preferred. There was one universal complaint expressed by almost every woman on the ship. "There was not enough storage and that which they had was poorly designed!"
Overall the design of the ship is geared towards an older passenger base. The nooks and crannies for settling in and reading a book popped up every where. Most fellow passengers were seasoned cruisers and universally expressed pleasure in the ship's ambiance.
A big disappointment centered on the earlier dinner time. Both the main dinning and select reservations suffered by the attempt by the ship to accommodate too many at the earlier seating. This taxed the limited space of those on Select Dinning by interspersing those without reservations into the population. It ended up making everyone unhappy. This carried over to the "early" show. Since well over 50% of the people were being served an early dinner there was an overload on the seating. Since our Select Dinning reservation was slowed, we ended up missing two shows because of a lack of seating.
The food -- In the MDR, every dinner meal with only one exception (The Chef's Special -- A meatball dish that I could not eat) ranged from good to every good. The lunches both in the buffet and MDR were very good. (I especially enjoyed the Mexican and Asian buffets). Breakfast was as good as any I have enjoyed. Many of the season passengers were not overly pleased but I do not possess a very demanding pallet and was more than satisfied with the food.
The children's accommodations -- My recommendation is that you stay away with children.
The activities -- There are many for the mature person to enjoy.
Service -- There were many exceptional people serving everyone with smiles and friendly attitude. To mention some -- the casino manager, who really helped with our "slot pull" by giving us a trophy, a shirt, and assistance; the husband and wife team, who served as the two select dinning maitre d', they were most pleasant and accommodating; and there were many exceptionally trained waiters and assistants.
Unfortunately, there were many very inexperienced servers included in the staff. Although they were pleasant and attempted to be attentive to the table's need, their lack of experience showed. This was not expected on a new ship to where, historically, the best of the best service usually move up.
The entertainment -- In the theater, there were some very good performances that covered a wide range of personal interest. Also, the on board entertainment in the main lobby and elsewhere was very good. You would have been hard pressed not to have been able to find something that pleased your fancy.
The Elite Happy Hour -- This was excellent!!! This was true of all the Elite perks.
The Concierge Class Room -- The amenities may appear minor but do add to the overall appreciation of your accommodations.
I had one major disappointment on this cruise. It was the manner in which you were seated for dinner at Select Dinning. There must be an over abundance of tables for two and a shortage of larger tables. Although we requested a large table on our pre-cruise reservation and each time we entered we requested to share, six out of eleven times we placed at a table of two. Our complaints fell on deaf ears. An example was as follows: We requested to share a table upon entry to the dinning room. We even stated that we would wait. Shortly three couples, including us, were escorted past several open tables of six down to the first level to be seated in three tables of two that were scattered throughout the dinning room. The service had to work extra hard to seat us in this manner. As a foot note: The next day we met one of the other couples in the Elite Happy Hour. They said that they could not understand why we were separated since they too had requested to share.
Finally, a word about the Noro-Virus episode on this cruise: We appreciate the additional demands put on the staff to meet challenges of controlling the spread of the disease. We accept that these changes in how you served both in the MDR and buffet may have taken away from your normal high quality of service. The staff was on constant effort to wash down every surface and had to use extra help serve each meal. Yet, there was not one muttering of complaint by them. Thank you Celebrity for all the extra effort required due to this outbreak.