Summary: One of our more enjoyable cruises. There was something for everyone but far too much for anyone to do it all. The highlight was the entertainment. For the most part VERY outstanding. There has been nothing that we experienced on other ships that was even a close second.
We did find the ship somewhat noisy for our tastes. With one exception the service was excellent.
The upper decks got crowded at times but not more than we experienced on other cruises. There was additional area on deck 16 that was limited to adults. It had its own pool and hot tubs. We loved it. It was almost never too crowded.
The buffet area got crowded more and stayed that way longer than I remember on other cruises.
We liked the interactive TV and interactive information displays posted throughout the ship.
Having to make reservations for the shows was new to us but it seemed to cut down on the crowds for each event.
We would go on this ship again although our preference is for smaller ships. The Celebrity Century is one of our favorites for example.
If we were taking our grandchildren, we would book this ship or its sister "Oasis of the Seas" in preference to any other. There really appears to be a lot to do for kids of all ages.
More details and impressions are below.
Details: We are a couple over 65 with over 30 cruises. Booked this one week before departure not for the itinerary but because we just wanted to take a break. We had "My Time" dining which was fine with us.
We were unable to reserve any of the shows pre-cruise but had no problems doing so once we were on the ship.
We did pre-order the wine package but for what we drank there was no savings. $135 for a 5 bottle package but the wines we ordered were generally $27/bottle anyway.
Check-in was the easiest ever. We got to the ship shortly after noon and were on the ship 15 minutes later. Maybe it gets busier later but they have many many check-in positions.
We had a large inside cabin. It was 170 square feet on deck 8. It was more than adequate. On this ship they actually have balcony cabins that face the inside. I am not sure I would want one of them because of the noise level from the area they look out on.
The food was decent and food service was excellent with one exception which was at their Samba Brazilian restaurant that was $25/pp extra. It was not worth it at all. That was too bad because we have eaten at that type of restaurant before and loved them. We did not get the food cooked the way we ordered it, (we like rare to medium rare). Talking to someone else who had been there on a previous night and his issue was that the meat was too rare. Go Figure. Also, when we were done my wife ordered a latte and I a black coffee. Their latte machine was broken which we were told about after we had pretty much finished our desserts. We sat there like dummies waiting for someone to bring from another area. No one came to ask if I wanted more coffee or if my wife wanted anything in the meantime. The latte finally came --lukewarm- 10-15 minutes after that. Even without the service issue, it was not worth $25/pp extra in my opinion. I suspect that to do a Brazilian restaurant of that type you need a bigger venue that the relatively few tables and staff that a cruise ship can devote to it. The ones that we liked have been large ones with lots of customers.
We did not eat in any of the other extra charge restaurants.
We were able to get the waiter that we had on the first evening whenever we ate in the main dining room. He was as good if not better that we have ever had. If anyone from RCCL is reading this his name is Oliver Marin.
Chicago- While the play itself is not to my taste (my wife liked it). The performances were outstanding. You may not want younger children to see it because of some of the language.
Oceanaria- A MUST see. Hard to describe but the divers and music etc are fantastic. Not sure if the diver are Olympic quality but if not they are darn close.
Headliner-On this ship it was a man named Tony Tillman. Another must see. I have no idea where he gets his energy but wow. He does a great version of Sammy Davis JR too. When he was done with the show the ENTIRE audience immediately stood to give him a standing ovation. There was no "ripple" effect like so many standing ovations this was literally immediate.
Blu- Another must see show. The cast from Chicago is generally the cast for this. It was spectacular and they got another standing ovation which was well deserved.
Comedians- I thought they were just fair. There were two. The first one basically spent his half hour picking on folks from the audience. The other at last had some real jokes. The show is not available to folks under 18 due to content and language. They just were not my cup of tea when it comes to comedy. Another of my pet peeves about some of today's comedians is that just because you use the "F" or "MF" words it does not make a joke funny. I am no prude and can often use those words myself but mostly in a non-comedic situation.
Shore excursions- Did not do any. We have been to that area many times and saw no need to do them. In Our purpose on this trip was to relax. Previously in Jamaica we have did the "rafting down the Martha Brae River" excursion and enjoyed it a lot. In Cozumel we went to Senor Frogs and had a couple of drinks and enjoyed the antics and singing of the waiters. In Labadee we stayed on the ship and enjoyed peace and quiet.
We liked the interactive TV. You could check current and future events, menus and even make show and dinner reservations using it.
The ship was very clean and the staff most friendly. The passenger to staff ratio is not as high as found on Celebrity or Holland but it really did not make much difference to us.
We liked the Park Cafe on deck 8. Good breakfasts and it never seemed very crowded. The buffet area could probably have been made larger with a larger staff. That area did get crowded. Interesting fact...they do not have trays in the buffet area. It probably saves them a lot of labor and I heard no one complain about it.
We like to play slots and the slots did not seem to be paying well at all. It seemed like they were tighter than most other cruise ships as well. I heard that from others as well.
It often seemed like you were not at sea because the ship is so large. We still prefer smaller ships but would not hesitate to go Allure or Oasis again. If we were taking our grandchildren we would book one of them in a heartbeat.
Great Location. 170 SF good size. Near Forward eloevators and Central Park. In our opinion an outside cabin which is essentially the same size is not worth the upcharge.