This was to be another fantastic family cruise - post COVID crap and back together celebrating. What a bomb. Our first cruise (circa 2001 - we have been on 10 cruises since) was on Navigator - I still remember being offered a Pina Colada the minute we hit the entry hall on the ship - "you are on vacation mon .... we've been waiting for you!" Well, this is a fond memory never to be had again. All cruisers in a room are required to buy the same drink package - granted they are of age. If younger, you are REQUIRED to purchase the soda/beverage package if you as the adult want the booze package. At $17 or more per drink, the $800 booze package makes sense of you plan a few drinks/day. Problem for us - my adult child is handicapped and does not/cannot drink alcohol - I was FORCED to purchase the soda package if we were to be able to buy the booze package -- The most expensive 6 Sprites and 2 glasses of chocolate milk EVER! That being said, the waiters/bar folks were not a attentive when they found who had the pre-paid package and therefore, pre-paid gratuities. It paid them better to hustle for the folks paying per drink. Left us walking our way to the bar quite often. I don't drink to oblivion, but I like to enjoy the cocktails in the sun as part of a cruise vacation. I doubt highly I consumed $800 worth.
The food - while I don't ever look to gain weight, the extravagance of a cruise vacation with its options, portions, presentations is part of the anticipated experience. I do not promote excess or the high volumes of waste likely to have occured in past, however markedly smaller portions should be accompanied by much higher quality -- think tapas dining. Um, no. The food in the dining room was fast food quality at best, inedible at worst and the wait?!? Two hours to complete a meal that was not worth the wait. If there were better options in the Windjammer, we would have gone - sadly the fiasco of a plate line, then a beverage line, then a food line was worse than a middle school cafeteria -- so was the food, blech!
The staff (all disciplines) was tired, lackluster, totally forgettable. There was no above and beyond - until the last day when you were asked to tip above the pre-paid gratuity level. What the Hell for? I cleaned behind my bathroom sink when clearly no one has in years, no one ever called us by name, there were no "good morning," "nice day on the beach?" "would you like some extra water for tomorrow's beach day?" N-O-T-H-I-N-G.