I am self employed and booked this trip a couple days before departure, treating it as a working vacation with a change of scenery. Traveling alone, I just wanted to eat, sleep, and work (mostly reading). By all accounts, it was a success.
Shows/Events/Bars/Casino/Internet/Pools/Excursions: Didn’t do a single one, so can’t comment.
Staff: There was definitely a language barrier for many of the waitstaff. Eventually I realized it was always the same set of questions (e.g., “What would you like to drink?”) and that made it easier. Everyone was very friendly and most - but not all - seemed genuine. The gentleman who serviced my room (Jojan, aka “Joe”) was very accommodating to my request for privacy so I could work.
Crowds: Imagine a Del Webb community for the United Nations. At 43 years old, I was a youngster on this cruise. 95% of the time I was outside my room was either going to get food (always taking the stairs) or eating food (always sitting alone). This was by choice. (There were singles/solo traveler events for people like me.) The few times I went exploring the ship, I found it to be frustrating. It was like driving in a tourist town where nobody knows where they are going and they keep getting distracted by shiny objects. People would suddenly stop in the middle of everything, causing a traffic jam. More than anything, I just felt claustrophobic in the common areas. I tried reading in a couple different places outside my room (that were quiet when I arrived), but inevitably it would turn into the exercise area for Zumba, or some other noisy activity. In the end I realized that if I were going to be productive, I would need to work in my room - which was fine. I was very comfortable there.
My room: (See below)
Food: This was a mixed bag. Upon arrival I went to the Horizon buffet for the afternoon snack and couldn’t find a seat. Apparently everyone else had the same idea. I ended up at the Pizzeria (on the same deck) and got a slice of pepperoni that was just coming out of the oven. It was thin crust (kind of NY style) which is what I like, but there was something wrong with the cheese. It wasn’t stringy or chewy. It was mushy and seemed to dissolve in my mouth, as if it were made from powder. So the first couple hours on board were disheartening. Things got better after that. I ate at The Grill twice (hamburgers), lunch at Sabatini’s once (pizza), and dinner in the Bordeaux Dinning Room once (NY Strip). Every other meal was at the Horizon buffet. I tried to go to the Bordeaux Dinning Room (anytime seating) a couple other times but there was always a line. I assumed that meant I wouldn’t be able to get a table to myself, which meant making small talk with strangers, and not being productive. On the last evening I went as soon as they were opening and a lot of my fellow passengers were still exploring Victoria Canada. The steak dinner at Bordeaux was definitely the best meal of my trip. I had a small table to myself and was in and out in 20 minutes. Sabatini’s pizza is better than the mysterious dissolving stuff upstairs, but not good enough for me to go back a second time. I was disappointed that the Pub Grub for lunch in the Bayou Cafe is not available on the shorter (4 night) cruises. But it was just one less option - certainly didn’t ruin my entire experience. So I spent a lot of time at the Horizon buffet. Breakfast at the Horizon was the most consistent meal. Always good, with everything you would expect. Coffee was decent but not great. It never tasted particularly fresh (I’m sure it was instant coffee) but it was good enough that I didn’t feel compelled to buy the fresh brewed variety, which was also available at the buffet. Lunch and dinner was a mix of fresh items (e.g., fruit, cheese, salad bar) and your standard cafeteria fare. Nothing to write home about but I certainly never went hungry. I never tried the room service.
Conclusions: I’m a cruising novice, so I can’t really say how this ship/crew compares to others. However, I had a good experience and would not hesitate to take the same trip again. General staff tips are automatically charged each day ($13.50, I think), so I was anticipating that expense. I also gave some extra cash to Joe for putting up with my reclusive behavior. Otherwise, I managed to go the entire cruise without any charges beyond the all-inclusive rate.
Bed: The bed was plenty comfortable. Not as nice as my bed at home but it didn’t interfere with my sleep at all. Quality sheets/pillows too. I suggest downloading a white noise app on your phone or tablet to help drown the noise of your neighbors.
Bathroom: Is the shower small? Yes, you will not be doing jumping jacks in the shower. But the on-line complaints I read before the cruise were misleading to me. I am 6’3” and 205 lb. (…. okay, 215 lb.) and I didn’t have any trouble at all. Never once hit my elbows on the soap dispensers or had any trouble getting clean. Unless you are over 6’6”, shaped like a bowling ball, or expect co-ed showering, you won’t have any problems.
Water: The water pressure was great. I just assumed it would be weak, so this was a pleasant surprise. The water also tasted right. No chemicals, after taste, etc. Indecipherable from bottled water, so I drank tap water the entire time.
Television: 24 hour BBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Fox News, and ESPN. A couple other random channels (Discovery?) and a channel of old reruns (e.g., Cheers, Everybody Loves Raymond, and, of course, The Love Boat). Plus a couple channels of fairly recent movies (e.g., The Post, The Darkest Hour, Molly’s Game). You can also check the ships location, etc. In short, if TV is a priority for you, you should probably stay on shore. If you just want to stay on top of the major news stories or catch a little mindless entertainment, this will fit the bill.
Balcony: I envisioned myself working on the ensuite deck most of the time. In reality, it was way too windy to enjoy while we were at sea. At port is was nice, despite the occasional toxic whiff of diesel and sewage. While I didn’t spend a lot of time out there, I would definitely get a balcony room again next time. Being able to open the sliding glass door made it much easier to keep the room comfortable, and I really enjoyed the fresh air. Not sure I would have slept as well without it. As much time as I spent in the room, it was definitely worth the added expense.