Traveled with 8 other adults from San Diego. Parked in the San Pedro lot ($19/day) for a 10 am check-in, which was quick since fewer people there due to the early time. Not too long a wait until they started boarding. We immediately went ... Read More
Traveled with 8 other adults from San Diego. Parked in the San Pedro lot ($19/day) for a 10 am check-in, which was quick since fewer people there due to the early time. Not too long a wait until they started boarding. We immediately went for lunch at the Local for chicken wings, burgers, salads, etc. Great start, food-wise. Dropped off our carry-on bags in our cabins and explored the ship. Disappointed they don't have a viewing deck facing the bow of the ship for us non-Haven folks, as that's where we normally like to be when the ship heads out of port.
The cruise starts with 2 sea days, so we got to know the ship activities pretty well. The gym on this ship is small (compared to RCCL, for example), and was packed by 8 am each day. So better to do work-outs in the afternoon. At least the equipment is new. The race track is fun, but you have to make reservations, which is not a very smooth system. It took almost an hour to make 3 different reservations, because the person entering them kept screwing them up. Don't know if it was a language barrier, or a problem with their reservation system, but she kept deleting or adding people to the wrong dates/times. My friend dealing with her complained at guest services, and they took off his three $15 charges for the racing. While fun, the track takes up A LOT of space on the ship. They had to remove many of the activities found on other ships (rock climbing wall, basketball court, ropes course, etc.) to put the track in there. The mini-golf was shrunk down to a 4 hole afterthought behind the race track. Not once did we see anyone doing the laser tag, and we never saw that it was even open. The pool slides were fun, particularly the inner tube one. The drop slide seems to have a design flaw. Just after the initial drop, there is a steep incline to slow you down. A large percentage of people, particularly lighter women and heavier folks (especially if wearing a shirt) don't make it up the incline and drop back down in reverse, where a crew member has to let your out of an escape hatch. The casino slot machines were tight as usual, and it's nice that they have a separate, enclosed smoking section. The Jersey Boys show was great - just like the Broadway musical, with just as talented singers. The two leads could really sing! Bingo was fun, but $49 was their cheapest package to play. It was Halloween during our cruse, and a surprisingly large number of cruisers dressed up in costumes. There was a party at 10:30 pm in Spice H2O at the back of the boat that was packed. We did the 10:30 Spice H2O party a couple of times, which was fun. The silent disco was also amusing, especially when you take off your headphones and see people dancing without music, and singing to songs you can't hear. There were 4 different zones playing different music, adding to the entertainment factor.
If you don't like the noise of the pool deck, there are plenty of places for quiet, particularly the Observation lounge on deck 15, which wraps around the whole front of the ship. Many couches and loungers, snack counters, a bar, and a piano player at night which can only be heard closer to the front of the lounge. Deck 7 has the Waterfront that wraps around almost the entire ship, and is lined with couches, chairs, and tables. It's designated as a quiet space and is a great place to sit, read, eat, nap, or have quiet conversations, either in sun or shade.
Taste, Savor, and the Manhattan Room are the complementary dining rooms, and had good, changing selections each night. The NY Strip steak (available every night) was surprisingly good. I found the Caesar salad dressing bland. I noticed they've reduced the portion size (a good thing) of their appetizers, since many people get more than one and end up wasting food. Desserts were surprisingly good as well. We also at at Le Bistro, Food Republic, and Los Lobos specialty dining. Le Bistro was fabulous as usual. Service was outstanding and the food was on point. Food Republic was our second favorite, with good sushi and Asian-fusion options. Los Lobos had some good dishes (eg, fresh guacamole, and the elote corn), but being from San Diego, we had a high bar for them to make good Mexican food, and they didn't meet it. Not that it was bad, we just had much better back home.
Ports: We went zip lining in Puerto Vallarta. Book through Viator - only $40 for 10 lines, but there was a lot of climbing up steep hills to get from line to line. Just a 5-10 minute walk to the pick-up point from the ship at 10:30 am, and we were back at the ship by 2:30 pm, well before the 4:30 all-aboard time. In Mazatlan we took Ubers ($4!) to Los Arcos restaurant for seafood lunch. It was highly recommended by friends, and they were right. Don't miss the grilled shrimp and the mixed seafood ceviche. In Cabo San Lucas, we had to use tenders to get to port, and we just walked over to Sammy Hagar's Cabo Wabo Cantina for lunch. Short shore leave, as it was a 2:30 all-aboard time. It was pretty hot in all 3 ports, and shopping was the same stuff. If you've ever done the Western Caribbean, you know what I mean. Not once did any of us use Mexican pesos. USD are widely accepted, as are credit cards, which get a better exchange rate.
Overall, it was a fun cruise, and a good learning experience to our friends who have never cruised before. Service was top notch as almost all the crew were helpful, friendly, and attentive. Being from SoCal, it was a great value since we didn't have to pay for airfare or the usual overnight stay in a hotel the night before. Read Less