The Heroes Cruise Free was promoted to educators here in GA, so a few other educators and I decided to take our families during the winter break. I was able to cruise free, and paid a discounted rate for my sweetie and 2 kids. We were upgraded to ocean view rooms. Note: If you are cruising with 4 people, you have to buy 2 cabins. At this level, the cabins are only big enough to sleep 2 comfortably, and are a tight squeeze in for a 3rd person cot. Cabin review is below. I have to say that after reading the reviews about this cruise, I was VERY apprehensive and took on a "it is what it is" attitude.
The 1st thing I'd like to caution everyone about is the fees and extras. The other fees are: valet parking, of which the people are QUITE adamant (almost aggressive) in obtaining as SOON as you step out of the car. We were literally trying to get our bags out of the trunk and the lady came up to me and said "you need to pay $40". After me nodding and saying OK and her asking 2 more time, I finally had to firmly tell her to wait until we got our bags out of the car. You'll also have port fees, gratuities, and other fees that add up at the end. I'm not sure why they don't just tack it all on at the beginning.
Embarkation and debarkation, though a little chaotic, were not terrible. The lines were long, but went fairly quickly. However, signing up for things like dinner and restaurants were at random tables, directions to sign up were not all that clear, and the signage was not strategically placed. Once we got on the ship, we went straight to Port of Indecision Buffet, which is where all of the non specialized dining occurred for breakfast and lunch. The fare was per usual. Some things that they offered i.e. smoke salmon was only offered on port day. Dinner was in the Fins dining room. The food was pretty decent, and the service was great.
Our cabin steward (*facepalm* I cannot remember his name. A young man of color whose name begins with an R) was absolutely amazing. He was so accommodating and made sure we had everything we needed, right down to keeping my son's medication on ice when the refrigerator wasn't working properly. Note: Many of the refrigerators in the rooms did not work properly. Also, you've probably read about the showers. They are very small, and you MUST pull the shower curtain ALL the way around the circle AND turn the shower head toward the wall in order to try to keep the water from escaping. I emphasize try. I can see how the carpets may get a musty smell, with all of the water that can escape if you don't. I avoided that by bringing a renuzit air freshener (downy) and putting them in the bathroom. It kept both rooms smelling fresh. Even the hallways outside our rooms smelled good. The bed was comfortable and the window was a nice size so we had a good view.