Just got off this ship yesterday Feb 13th, 2012...Some good and some bad...I had been on 2 other cruises before this one, however, this is my first BIG ship...The other cruises were Windjammer in the Carribean (out of business) and Star Clipper in Tahiti...Had an incredible time on both...
I had been told that these Big Ship cruises had some of the best food around, well, I was not impressed...There was a whole lot of food, and it was always available. However, it was no better than your local buffet...Even the dinner food was barely an upgrade. The deserts were fantanstic though...I will give them that..so if you are expecting 4 or 5 star meals, you are going to be dissapointed.
The entertainment on board was top notch...Always something going on to keep you entertained and there was never a lack of things to do. Lots of variety which is a plus...Although he is probably a really nice guy, the guy in charge of kareoke way horrible to say the least...Not his signing as he didn't sing. He just had no idea of how to keep it moving orderly...Those of you that kareoke no the importance of keeping it moving...he didn't...I didn't get in the pools or the spa as the weather really didn't permit it...but kept myself busy anyway. The ship also had recently (3 years) had an upgrade. Well, I had never been on the ship before so I don't have anything to compare it too. However, my best discription would be walking into the Circus Circus in Reno...The colors, decor and lighting all reminded me of this.
Most of the staff were very unfriendly...Maybe unfriendly is a bad choice of words...More like, uninterested...Not that they were mean or rude, it was like they really didn't care...The bar staff that served the drinks of the day were sometimes almost pushy in trying you to buy instead of simply being 'available' to help with something you may want. Not to mention that a manditory 15% gratuity is added to each and every drink you order. A couple that my wife and I met on the cruise pointed out that while sitting in the buffet room for lunch on Sunday was the first time anyone approached them while they were eating to simply check on them to see if they needed anything. Where's the customer service?
And finally, during checkout, I notice on our bill 2 separate charges for $34.50 for Gratuity...I checked with the service desk to make sure that I wasn't billed twice but also wondered why I was billed at all...I learned that it is a 'Mandatory' charge per person for the waiters and other staff on the ship. I was always under the impression that tips were earned...And if it's a mandatory charge, you should include it in the total cost of the cruise...If this is the normally cruise practice, why don't you charge me $50 for the cruise and a $750 mandatory gratuity when I leave.. That was a hot button...
Anyway, I will most likely try another cruise line in the future.