We are first time cruisers along with another couple. The reaction? The four of us really want to cruise again and are planning the next one. Specific reviews:
Embarkation: went smoothly. Amazing how they can move 2500 passengers so quickly. Disembarkation also smooth. They have this down to a science.
Ship: Beautiful ship; not the largest but holds 2500 passengers. Rooms were extremely clean; we loved our balcony. Small shower stall.
Crew: absolutely friendly and we think we had the best wait staff at dinner - Sathi always had a smile on his face, told us stories, always had time to chat, and his recommendations for dinner were always right on. He brought us any food we wanted and in any quantity. Like he promised - we would be rolling out of the dinning room. At our request, he had the chef make curry for us one night, followed by chicken curry the next - this was in addition to our regular entrees. The cabin staff were great - always a surprise every night - they were experts in creating animals out of towels; one every night. Captain Kent is the singing captain and you can buy his CD. He actually is quite good.
Food: more than satisfactory. The formal dinning room had the best food - be sure to heed the waiter's suggestions. Can't go wrong. Lobster tails (yes, we ordered 4 per couple) were fabulous. The prime rib was perfect. The Windjammer cafe was buffet style for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is quite all right and there was a lot of choice. Always plenty of fresh fruit available. Don't buy the soda package unless you have kids. Two special restaurants on board - Portofinos (Italian) and Chops (steaks). Managed to try Portofinos - definitely worth a try. Have to pay extra though.
Entertainment: Live shows every night from stand-up comedy to a comedy-juggling act - we took in every show and it was worth it. Movies galore. The different lounges had different entertainers - Dancing Through the Decades had a '50s-'60s night; '70s-'80s night; Western Night; Karaoke night; and various game shows. Never bored. Santino and the Blakjax were fabulous. There was lots of dancing and disco.
Other activities: golf simulator; mini-putt; spa; rock climbing; always the pool but we religiously went to the gym to work out, hitting the steam room after. Self leveling pool tables - very apparent in rough seas. Tour of the bridge is a must. The crew were very willing to answer all questions and show us around. Casino was open every night for those wanting to gamble. The sports bar - sports on tv of course. Art auction - some very nice pieces available. Limited selection at the duty free stores, but the prices were good.
Stops: Coco Cay was first stop, but rough seas scuttled the day. St. Thomas, USVI, is a shopping haven - cheap deals on jewelry and liquor. Worth to take a tour of the country. Slight rain dampened the outing. St. Maarten was next stop - unfortunate to arrive on a national holiday so there was limited shopping. Took a taxi to Orient Beach (French side) for a day; had the most wonderful lunch at Waikiki Beach cafe. Try the seafood - absolutely fresh, seasoned and cooked to perfection. Next stop was to be Nassau but the captain decided on a different route due to very rough seas (yes, many people were seasick) and therefore we did not make it to Nassau. There were rumbles, but Captain Kent did the right thing.
Overall, a great cruise but less than perfect due to some rough seas. Arrival at St. Maarten on a national holiday but perhaps fortunate since we had a fantastic meal at Orient Beach.