This was our second trip on this same ship and route, this time we brought the family. We decided on this ship because we had such a wonderful experience the first time. I read the reviews previous to our departure and was a bit worried as the negative reviews listed the age of the ship and rude staff. However, my wife convinced me to just focus on the great time we had in 2016 and the pure joy our kids (13/17) would have going on their first cruise. We were pleasantly surprised when we boarded and our room was no disappointment. We also enjoyed the many staff who made sure we had everything we needed. The problem primarily focused on the lack of security or rules enforcement throughout the week. There are designated smoking areas at various locals about the ship but it seemed those patrons that chose to smoke took liberty as where they smoked...which was about anywhere. Every single night we smelled smoke from the staircases and when I did finally complain, I was told the wind was at fault for carrying the smoke. We did not have this issue in 2016 and I'm pretty sure the wind blew then too! While the itinerary sheet reflects a $250 fine for those breaking the smoking rule, no one seemed to have concern for that regulation being enforced. One morning later in the week we even smelled marijuana from our balcony. I'm an easy going redneck and enjoying the break from our Oklahoma allergies was a welcomed thought if not for the nasty cigarette smoke. You couldn't leave the main dining hall without getting blasted by the smoke.
Another issue was the change in dining experience. We had no issues during our 2016 cruise but they evidently changed the format. We were faced with long lines at each meal and DO NOT expect very many diners actually dressing up during the established formal nights. While signs list no flip flops, tank tops or ball caps, we had just that very thing seated next to us. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a big fan of the dressy lifestyle nor was my 13 year old, but we did just that for my wife and it was more than annoying that I had to suffer through a dinner jacket and tie next to bubba in a glorified wife beater! The Windjammer cafe was also habitually crowded as well and we always had to take our plates to a different dining ara just to get a place to sit.
Another sign that was liberally ignored was the use of the billiards tables. My eldest and I wished to play and walked to the tables several times each day, not one time did we find them available because there were small children camped out with no adults in sight. The one time we decided to wait, we leaned up next to the "Adults Only" signage and waited for their 45 minute game to end. The issue with unsupervised kids did not end there, we felt we were on a Disney Cruise due to the number of unsupervised kids running about. While some were well behaved, there were plenty that raced down halls, knocked on doors and just created havoc for some people.
And lastly, the daily itinerary lists "Saving of seats is strictly prohibited and will be enforced" in reference to the theater, but this was absolutely not enforced and staff regularly walked by rows that were covered by various jackets, shoes, and other personal effects that cruisers placed ahead of time to secure their spot. This was ultimately disappointing to me though by boys had a wonderful experience. I can appreciate the reference to being a "Crown and Anchor Society club" member but I am not sure of the benefits other than a little quicker check in process. I found out that while there are a few perks (less so than in 2016), one has to actually notify the staff upon making a purchase to receive the benefit. You'd think maybe the sea pass card would be colored or possibly reflect that the holder was a C&A Society member so we wouldn't have to beg for the limited perk. One such perk change was the fact that we used to get a $5 credit in the casino but that was changed to one spin! Whew! Game changer!
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