I'll start by saying we had a fun trip. Mainly because we were with friends and we always have fun when we're together, but I'll choose a line next time that doesn't allow smoking in cabins or on balconies no matter the price or itinerary.
Check-in: Smooth & fast. Be sure they give you a little blue card with a number on it. You'll need it when they start boarding as they call you by number. We didn't get one, but noticing others, asked and were given a #1 putting us with the first group to board. We were on the ship and in our cabin before 11 am with luggage arriving shortly thereafter. (Nice!)
Cabin/Wasted Balcony: Rotterdam Deck #7143 ~ Room was dim & dark, just okay. While the cabin smelled & looked clean at first glance, the closets reeked of stale cigarettes. We kept majority of our clean clothes in our suitcases so they didn't smell and used the closet for dirty ones. If you use the closets, you'll need a flashlight/book light as they are not well lit. In 7 days, we didn't spend 10 minutes on our balcony -- what a waste of money -- and in our past balcony cruises, we ate breakfast every morning out there and spent much time in the evenings & while in port enjoying it. Being on the back was the kicker I believe, because opening the door was like turning on a suction machine drawing all the smoke from surrounding cabins right inside ours and if you were out there, it was unbearable. I do really think it was the aft location because we've been on both Celebrity & Princess side balconies, and while it would occasionaly annoy us, it certainly didn't keep us from being out there & enjoying ourselves.
Food: Except for the Mariners Club luncheon the first day, we weren't impressed with either the food or the service in the MDR. The buffet on the other hand, was awesome, while the service there was lacking as well. The best food was in the Pinnacle Grill. It was well worth the additional charge, and how cruise dinners used to be.
Classes: The highlight of our trip was a private cooking class in the Culinary Arts Center with Chef Adam. With only a dozen or so other passengers, we had a two hour, hands on class and created an incredible lunch that we got to enjoy with Chef Adam & Beth, the assistant cruise director. Priceless! We also enjoyed several of the Mixology classes as well during the week. Sign up early because they are limited & always sell out.
Ports: Enjoyed the Power Snorkel Excursion in Grand Turk & Margaritaville (although it is insanely pricy). We'd been to San Juan before & enjoyed just walking around and ate at an outdoor cafe. St. Thomas used to be one of our favorite stops but this, our 3rd time there, will definitely be our last. There were 5 mega ships in port, including the massive 6k passenger Allure and the Norwegian Epic. The crowds made it utterly miserable. Not to mention the men outside the jewelry shops literally grabbing you to pull you inside. Maybe it's just us, but we will study our next itinerary carefully and if there is a port with that many ships at one time, we will plan that day staying on board and not getting off the ship. Half Moon Cay was our favorite stop. The island itself is just beautiful. I have to say I was surprised at how run down some of the amenities were though. Not one of the misting tents were in working order and the men & women's bathrooms had no toilet paper & no soap all day even after we asked for it. We rented a private cabana (Terra Cotta) which I would do again, however, they shorten your day by taking everything away from you at 2 even though you don't have to leave until 4. The water was beautiful, snorkeling great, and the buffet lunch was yummy and had a great variety. Note that you can not use prepaid drink cards on the island, only your cruise card -- they do not tell you this ahead of time.
All in all, it was a fun week, but we will go back to Celebrity or Princess next time.