Perfectly sized, not too crowded, not too big, not too small, wonderful water slides on the top deck which are great for kids, the slides have clear walls that pass over the ocean outside of the ship's bounds, very exciting. ... Read More
Perfectly sized, not too crowded, not too big, not too small, wonderful water slides on the top deck which are great for kids, the slides have clear walls that pass over the ocean outside of the ship's bounds, very exciting. Pools seemed big enough for kids. During the trip there was some wonderful live African or Caribbean music on the top deck and on the Promenade, however there was also some of terrible noisy excruciating pop music as well. The elevators system is extremely efficient for this ship size, the ship has 14 elevators total with wonderful view from the elevator cabin. As a result embarking and disembarking is very quick.
There is a good mobile app for guests to use on the ship without having to purchase any WiFi plan. The app provides a lot of useful ship info, such as schedule of events and restaurants, charges on the account, etc. However, need to know to select on the device "use WiFi as is", i.e. without connecting to the internet, this step is very non-intuitive, and you would not know about it unless you stop by at the help desk. Some personnel at the help desk is not fluent with English, even though English is vital for working at the help desk. For most stops the ship does not provide proper maps for the locations to which the ship arrives, have to get maps somewhere after disembarking.
The balcony cabin on 7th level was great, fits 4 people, well sized and comfortable. The cabin has great sound isolation. One issue is that no body wash is provided in the cabin, like you would expect in an hotel, the cabin only provides shampoo and conditioner. There is also an oversight with the light on the balcony, where the cabins are separated by matte walls, which do provide good privacy, but pass the light from the adjacent balcony. So, unless your neighbors turn off the balcony light in the night, you will not be able to enjoy the starry sky, since you cannot observe stars with lights on.
They charge substantial "gratuity" fee per person per day, which is a marketing trick to make the cost look lower, and then charge more during the cruise. For 4 people in the room the $58 gratuity per day is inadequate, this is really a hidden cost and not a gratuity. In addition, even before we boarded the ship, the workers were asking for out-of-pocket gratuity to handle the luggage, which is also inappropriate. The service in the restaurant was so exceptional that we were leaving additional $10 per day there anyway.
This review is for the Sapphire restaurant that is included in the cost of the cruise. There was also a terribly crowded cafe with good enough food, but we preferred to eat in the Sapphire restaurant. The service was exceptional on many levels. We had a person with dairy intolerance, and the minute we mentioned that the chief waiter ran in, introduced himself, and arranged a special dairy-free menu to be specially cooked every day, both appetizer and main course, as well as the dessert. A special table with a nice view was assigned for us to make sure same waiters aware of the dietary restriction would serve us. Every day the chief waiter stopped by to plan new dairy-free dishes for the next day. There were also a very nice and very accommodating waiter, and very nice waiter's assistant, who would show quite fancy magic tricks to our little boys during the dinner every day, one trick per day. While this experience was amazing, I am not certain that it is typical - we might just have been very lucky with our waiters crew. Also, the restaurant has a dress code, but it is not enforced, and while many people come formally dressed in the evening, some of more arrogant and ignorant guests would come dressed in shorts and t-shirts, they were not turned around.
The ice show is superb beyond expectations, very professionally made, other shows not so much. Photography is not allowed during the ice show, but the rule is not enforced, and some of more arrogant and ignorant guests would make pictures causing distraction.
Promenade is the common area with shops, bars, and the cafe that offers free late-night food and free 24-hour drinks, like tea, coffee, and water. It took some substantial effort to find out which place has free 24 hours tea, coffee, and water, this is not made clear enough in the ship's flier. We also saw unruly and yelling drunk people walking on the promenade and stopping by in cafe, creating unpleasant uncivilized environment, yet these people are not confronted by personnel or by security.
The kids club on the ship is very lame. The activities were not particularly fancy or exciting. There is a set of play stations, like Xbox, to use during the so-called "free time", when no kids activities are scheduled. This "free time" has lack of supervision. Our boy came crying when some other kid pushed him out of the game station when it was our boy's turn to play, and did not let him play for an hour. Basically, the boy was bullied, and there was no one to make sure turns are fairly taken at the play stations. Skating is available daily, which is great, but for kid sizes there are only hockey skates, whereas kids of this age would normally need figure skates. There is also mini golf that is good for kids.
4 islands over 8 days was a great deal. Labadee, San Juan, and St. Kitts all 3 were awesome, but St. Maarten was a complete waste of time, both the excursion and the stop overall. The St. Maarten beach is crowded and not great, rather overrated, and there isn't much to see on the island either, not mentioning the tourism infrastructure is very rudimentary even at the port. The whole St. Maarten stop is arranged for people to leave their money on this island for no good reason and no benefit. On St. Kitts need to understand that there are no beaches at the walking distance, and using excursion as a way to be transported to the beach is rather overpriced, the transportation alone should not cost as much as the excursion does. The travel time for excursions is not disclosed, only the total time is. For instance, St. Kitts excursion we took was declared as 4 hours long, but took only 3.5 hours, of which 1 hour was the travel time, leaving only 2.5 hours to spend on the beach. They also canceled our excursion on Labadee because they decided to merge our excursion into an earlier one to make it more cost-efficient, but they failed to notify us, and we lost valuable beach time as a result. To make things worse, when they cancel an excursion, instead of refunding it, they turn its cost into a non-refundable onboard credit - so, you will have to find ways to spend that money on the ship. Read Less