I will try to keep these comments as short as possible because there is so much that is unique about this ship. We have been on over forty cruises around the world, but this ship was different in so many ways. We started from our home in Minnesota looking forward to a winter cruise break even though our winter has been extremely mild this year.
Or embarkation took maybe 20 minutes and we found our cabin with ease. We booked exactly one week before departure and opted for an inside cabin, figuring that we would be spending even less time than usual in it during this cruise. How right we were! The cabin was very nice, as you would expect There is plenty of room for two people. But other than to sleep and dress, we spent no time at all in the cabin. Not only is there a lot to do but the way things are done is very different than on other cruises. This took us about two days to adjust to and it took quite a bit of our time to master the intricacies of things like making reservations for the shows, versus just having a set show time coordinated with your dining time.
We found that we were able to change the times we had booked online for three of the shows and that we were able to attend a couple of shows by just getting in the stand-by line prior to the showtime. At first we were quite concerned about this because the entertainment on this ship is so unique and of such a high quality that we did not want to end the week without seeing all six of the main shows. I think it would be good to have reservations for Hairspray (really a first-class production of the exact Las Vegas version of this Broadway musical). Frozen in Time, the ice show, was also fantastic and very popular, so I think this would be a good one to have reservations for. The comedy show was pretty good and if you are going to it reservation seemed to be a must, because the venue is extremely small. This one had a long line that looked like it probably formed pretty early. The aqua show was totally unique with synchronized swimming, high diving and gymnastics. The stage/pool was modeled on the one used in "O" although of course it is smaller. Very popular as well, so reservations might be necessary. The Beatles tribute show was also really enjoyable with archival film clips of the Ed Sullivan show and all the rest of Beatlemania. And finally the production show "Come Fly With Me" had some of the most impressive sets you will ever see at sea and probably on land as well. The show had acrobatics worked into the singing and dancing that you would typically find on a cruise ship production show.
Everyone has their own opinion about food in the main dining room but we found it to be generally excellent, as was our service. On the first day the situation in the Windjammer buffet was total chaos at lunch time. It was truly the only problem we had on the entire cruise. There were no tables and the constant PA annoucements to vacate tables as soon as you were finished made for an extrely tacky environment that was not conducive to a good dining experience. On other days we did not encounter these problems, but we may not have been there during the real peak time on those days. The layout is very good with individual serving staions, so you don't have to wait in along line. Not to worry though as there are many other lunch options, inside and out, on this ship. One of the most pleasant is the Solariun at the front top area of the ship. Serving breakfast and dinner buffet, it is a adult area that is extremely comfortable. It is well designed to be an outside area, but shrouded strategically to keep the wind down while at sea and still allow fresh air while docked. We had no rain on our cruise but I feel that this area would be lovely on a warm rainy day, becaue the glass panels should largely cover the area, at least when docked.
It has been commented that this is a pretty kid oriented cruise and the Dreamworks animated characters from Shrek and Madagascar contributed a lot of that. But even though we were not traveling with kids, we found the parades, photo opportunities with the characters, balloon animal man on the Boardwalk near rhe carousel and face painter to be a lot of fun. There were plenty of adult activities as well and since this was Superbowl weekend it was celebrated on the big screen TV's throghout the ship, including outside. There were also live ESPN broadcasts from the ship featuring several players traveling on the cruise. There were even four ESPN cheerleaders on board!
I won't go into the ports as they are all pretty standard and we did not do any shore excursions, as we have been to all of them many times before.
Well this turned out to be longer than I had planed but there is so much unique on this ship that this is only a small summary. Truly the entertainment is a defining feature fo this ship. The ship is extremely active and very loud. We found very little time to just sit on deck and read a book! No complaints though as we thoroghly enjoyed this cruise-once we got oriented. We can read and sit on our next cruise on a more conventional ship-although we do plan to do a future cruise on sister ship Allure of the Seas.