For a first time cruiser, I think this was an excellent ship to sail away on. For a vegetarian, maybe a culinary cruise, not so much. More on that later.
I shared a PH suite with a friend, and we thoroughly enjoyed, and took advantage of, the extra space in the suite. The walk-in closet alone was well worth it, since we had packed for multiple events (dresses for evenings, board shorts and all for kayaking and swimming, casual wear for sightseeing and hiking). We did spend a bit more time in the room than expected because we took advantage of the lovely veranda, enjoying afternoon canapes in the room, and breakfast in the room on shore days.
I found service to be spectacular, everywhere. Including in the buffet, which was quite crowded a couple of times. Sometimes I'd think I'd need something, and it would materialize. Having a butler at hand also added to the experience, I think, as well as access to the executive lounge (made getting that morning cup of coffee much easier!).
I wasn't as impressed with the fact that we were tendered to shore one additional time (we were expecting to be tendered in twice, and that was not the case -- apparently being the last to arrive, or the smallest ship, meant we were to be tendered in and not docked. This was a bit of a disappointment as it did shorten the time we had on shore. Also was disappointed with the amount of time we had in Key West (due to the sunset celebrations and having to leave port so early). Having to also allow for the shuttle to/from the ship in Key West also cut into the time in port, and that really was a disappointment.
Other activities for the shore excursions were well received. We did our own thing in Cozumel and that worked out well, with plenty of time to shop in Cozumel before returning to the ship late afternoon. In Trujillo, we returned to the ship earlier than planned, but that was simply because there was just not a lot to do in Trujillo (they are still working out the kinks there, but the Campo Del Mar half-day nature walk was lovely). The Lamanai Mayan ruins day long tour was fabulous, and they did accommodate me, as a vegetarian, for the lunch on our return.
Now for the food. Apparently, most everyone seemed pleased with your food. And they did appear to try to accommodate me, by delivering menus two days in advance and I could circle the items I'd like to eat in the future. The problem was that the pickings were quite slim and honestly, how do I know what I want to eat two days hence? Two of the signature restaurants I could not eat a main meal at all (and instead had to eat appetizers for my main meal). This was very disappointing, and while they tried to make the apps look like a main dish, and they were delicious, it just was not a main dish.
In the buffet, vegetarians were also largely ignored -- steamed vegetables and salad and rice were the main dishes I could have one night (I think I could have had a potato dish also).
I think there may have been three vegetarians on board. If the others were treated as I was, I'm a bit appalled. I'm not a second class citizen. I was not impressed that I was not offered menus when seated at a signature restaurant, instead being told "my meal was being 'handled'." This made me feel "different" and I was asked why I wasn't given a menu by our dining partners (we shared tables at all of the signature restaurants). Really, not a fun experience.
BTW, the culinary cooking classes? A waste of time if you're a vegetarian (yeah, I wouldn't be able to eat what I cooked). And I wasn't impressed with the "resident artist." But I love Baristas, and I liked the idea of the library and Internet cafe (although the latter two were not used).
For the days that we were at sea, there was also an extraordinary number of chairs reserved at the pool, contrary to specific requests not to do so. This was quite rude by the other guests. The staff working at the pool were not enforcing this holding of chairs, and it was apparent they were uncomfortable in wanting to do so. Service by the pool was also spotty... the second day at sea I was not once asked if I wanted a drink when I was out by the pool for well over an hour. (Too bad, that attendant lost out on an extra tip.)
Speaking of other guests, there was a lack of manners from some of the guests that I was a bit stunned by. For a luxury ship such as this, to see a man push past others politely waiting for an elevator so he could be first? This same person did this to get on the tenders also. There were several occasions when I would have thought better manners would prevail but I guess I was wrong. (And yes, he would have made it on to that elevator, so there was no need to push past those of us waiting.)
Will I go on this ship again? Yes, because I loved the service and I absolutely LOVED the fact that there were (mostly) no children. But I will be a lot more particular about requesting vegetarian food. (When your best meal in 7 days is on a shore excursion in Key West, having a vegetarian Cubano sandwich -- and you've been on a luxury culinary cruise? Something is wrong.)
Spotlessly clean both mid-morning and after turndown. Service was spectacular. Our stewardess (Ganna) and her crew, and our butler (Jimeesh) and night butler were the best!
Some growing pains, but all in all a good experience. Loved the headsets provided; and the fruit and juice provided afterwards. Not so sure about the animals but the plants were fun to learn about.View All 4 Campo del Mar Nature Park Walking Tour Reviews
Fabulous tour of the ruins! And they accommodated a vegetarian for lunch! The tour guides were the best, providing a lot of information during the bus rides, and stopping along the river to point out the various wildlife (mostly birds) and plants. One of the best shore excursions!View All 131 Lamanai Mayan Ruins Reviews
Stayed overnight in Miami prior to embarking (arrived late so no time to enjoy the city). Quick and easy embarkation. Took almost no time to get all the paperwork in order and board the ship.
Did a private beach and enjoyed it immensely. Returned to the city and did a bit of shopping before returning to the ship. Unfortunately, we were not expecting to be tendered back to the ship so were disappointed in that.
Did our own private tour, kayaking in the mangroves, Hemingway's home, key lime pie, the Southernmost point, and so on. Loved it, and totally enjoyed it. Unfortunately, didn't enjoy having to cut our visit short by a half hour (due to the shuttling in and out of Mallory Square) and then having to leave Key West so early.