Our group of 20 people took a 7-day Caribbean cruise during the December 2018 holidays. Everyone was ecstatic to get onboard the ship in Miami. The ship is of course new, clean and large. But, disappointingly, it lacked the overall hype ... Read More
Our group of 20 people took a 7-day Caribbean cruise during the December 2018 holidays. Everyone was ecstatic to get onboard the ship in Miami. The ship is of course new, clean and large. But, disappointingly, it lacked the overall hype we expected, and found it to be a very poorly designed ship. Overall it felt very compartmentalized. It's apparent that open spaces inside and up top were eliminated from the design to jam in more interior staterooms, the Haven (First Class section) and the gimmicks (race track, laser tag, both of which were booked the entire cruise).There's no "grand" promenade or large multi-deck open area (e.g. the main atrium has a single narrow staircase leading between two decks with a small opening). Corridors are narrow and low ceilings abound on all decks.
The guests services desk is located in a horrendous area--the main atrium that is constantly filled with unnecessarily loudspeakers blaring live music or MCs. The main atrium is convoluted area comprised of guest services, photography, internet cafe, Starbucks, a bar and a crammed seating area with a stage. The stage is in use seemingly 24/7 with ongoing audience participation actives that involves a host with a microphone bellowing out antics and trivia, games, (bad) live music singers, and other activities for bored cruisers. To illustrate the poor design, the crew places plastic FOLDING chairs to add more seating to the area that spills out into the main walkway and guest services. If you need to visit guest services (you will), be prepared to scream at the representative because they cannot hear you, and you cannot hear them over the blaring music or screaming MC. Again, the stage is 20 feet away from the guest services desk. What were they thinking???
If you want ANY space on the pool deck, you will need to find a chair by 6 am. The experienced cruisers bring towel clips and "reserve" chairs. The staff don't monitor unoccupied chairs of the people who claim chairs and then go back to sleep in their staterooms, get breakfast and come back down at 11am. The loungers are literally crammed together, and there is no empty space anywhere. Meanwhile the DJ on the pool deck "entertains" the bored cruisers with obnoxiously unnecessarily overly loud music and screaming all day long: WHATTTTTTS SUUUUPPPP? WHOOP WHOOP! WE GOT THIS THING DOWN. WE GONNA ROCK IT. NOW WE GONNA GET THIS PARTY MOVING. WHOOP. WOOOP. Plan to hear this all day long on the pool deck. Most of the people I looked at sitting on the pool deck seemed annoyed but endured it because there was no other place to go.
Dining was a hit and miss. We signed up for the upgraded dining for 5 of the 7 nights, and only enjoyed two of the restaurants: Cagneys Steakhouse and Le Bistro. Skip the Italian restaurant at all costs, unless you enjoy Chef Boyardee canned food.
For a holiday cruise, they had a few 6-foot tall Christmas trees (again, the ceilings are too low, so there's no grand tree). The rest of the restaurants and bars will filled with mylar "Merry Christmas" banners and other cardboard santa cutouts taped to the walls with Scotch tape. The tackiness of that didn't match the newness of the otherwise nice interior finish work.
The best part of the ship was the Observation Lounge on deck 15. Here is a respite from the blaring music and screaming cruise director activities that are in all other areas of the ship. There's a small offering of buffet style food and a very nice bar. The entire lounge is truly appointed with comfy sofas, loungers and chairs. Our group of 20 found ourselves meeting here and spending 2-3 hours per day (mainly in the afternoon).
Overall the ship is new, clean and nice, but poorly designed. We missed open-air atriums, promenades and spaciousness you'd expect for a ship of this size. None of the people in our group of 20 said that they would return. The consensus was "meh." Read Less