For those of you who do not want a detailed, every day account of everything we did on this ship, skip to the last page, where you will find my summary. This review is 12 pages long and I hope it helps you decide whether or not this ship is for you. Good luck.
Day 1 - Check in was very easy. Luggage did not arrive with us to the room. The room was nice. Small, but nice... you get what you pay for. I don't think the extra 80sf would have made much of a difference in our stay and we weren't about to pay $10k for a loft. The position of the room was just as we had planned it. Near the back of the ship, overlooking the boardwalk and the Aqua Theater. From our balcony, we had a great view of the ocean as well.
We went to have lunch at the Windjammer, which is like their buffet/cafeteria. Neither the food, nor the selection were very good. We did have a nice view of the water from our table. Back to our rooms... still no bags. Eventually, we found them in the luggage room but they had not been delivered because apparently the baggage handlers had broken them. When we told the attendant that those were our bags, they brought them out to us and left them there for us to carry to our own room. I dragged a broken 70lb bag with no wheels half way across this huge ship. Then we went on to check our personal calendar on the TV monitor in the room. This would, ordinarily be an excellent tool for the cruise guest, however, ours was not working properly. Our days were all mixed up and, days were skipped, restaurant reservations where up for the wrong date and times. It was a disaster. So much so, that we spent the rest of our cruise utterly confused the entire time.
We headed out for dinner at Giovanni's cafe. They could not find our reservation but sat us regardless. The first course was a beef Carpaccio which was quite good. The rest of the offerings were mediocre at best. For a "specialty restaurant," I was very surprised and quite disappointed with the effort put forth on each dish. The crab ravioli was not bad, but it tasted a bit fishy and had very bland overall flavors. The ricotta stuffed chicken was terribly prepared. I would assume that even in the regular dining room they would know better than to overcook chicken, and I certainly expect a little more care in a specialty restaurant. The veal was very nice and soft, but again, it appears to me that there were some very inexperienced cooks in the kitchen because the salt level on this dish was off the scale. I normally don't mind a little extra salt, but this was really excessive. Overall, the food on the first day, in general, was below average. The service in the restaurants were all above average. We then went around the ship looking for something to do but it was surprisingly dead. I went to the casino and blew $200 bucks on roulette in 10 minutes. Oops...
Then we got out of there and went to the Aqua Theater to check out the show, "Oasis of Dreams." When we arrived, it was already pretty packed, so we decided to just go up to our room and watch it from our balcony, since we had an excellent view. The show was very good. With the limited sets and space, they put together a very entertaining act that we both rather enjoyed. Then we decided to check out the nightlife on the ship. Our first stop, Dazzler. We walked in, walked through and walked out. There were a few guests in the club, most of them much older than us and the music was extraordinarily lame. We then went to Blaze, which was supposed to be the happenin' club, with their "celebrity DJ???".... lame. We sat down for a couple minutes listening to Reggeton... We wanted to kill ourselves, so in order to avoid a terrible trajedy, we left and headed up to the Viking Crown Lounge on the 17th floor. Much more upscale. Mostly empty. But it was better than what we had seen so far. Almost on cue, right when we sat down, the trio band started playing Drive by the Cars. I immediately said to my wife, "oh, I love this song." I did, until the guy started singing. Let me just say that this is a Phillipino band and they have a bit of an accent. When the guy started singing, "who's gonna pay attention, to yoooooooo dweeeeeaaaamsss." My wife and I just started cracking up. We thought there was a hidden camera somewhere. As it turns out, it happens that it just wasn't his song, because after that, the kept playing and everything was excellent. Very talented band. The pianist, who also sang the first song, was very good and even sang pretty well some other songs. The guitarist had an awesome voice and did a great impersonation of Billy Joel and Joe Cocker. All in all, they were very good. We went home, went to sleep and got ready for day 2.
I'll try to make this quicker because otherwise I'm going to end up writing a book. We ordered room service which arrived at about 8am and ate the breakfast on our balcony. That was nice... the food, once again, was very ordinary. We ate and went back to sleep. We woke up super late, at about noon. Something we haven't done in years. That was a great feeling to be able to do that with no worries, no phone calls, emails, dogs to take out, cats to feed, etc... We decided to just chill most of the day. The personal calendar was still incorrect, so we had to make some calls and go to guest services to figure out what was on our itinerary. We ate at the Solarium, which is the "healthy food" on the cruise. That lunch was absolutely terrible. I cannot say that I actually liked anything. Wife thought food wasn't too bad, but yes, healthy. Never again.
The we went to the gym and got a good shoulder workout. The gym is probably one of the best things on this ship. The best equipment I've ever seen. Great space. Great everything. Unfortunately, they do something very stupid. They charge you for every stupid little class. $12 fee/spinning class, yoga, pilates, etc... all for extra fees. Steam room $35/day. I mean, utterly ridiculous. These classes are included in just about every gym membership out there. And here, after you throw down $5k for a week, they want to charge you these stupid fees. Absurd. But the gym itself is something else. We wish we had a gym like that at home. Not even the Four Season's gym could beat that.
After our workout, we went to the sports deck, where I played some basketball on a great court. Very nice space up there too, with ping pong and other games to play. It's necessary for me to point out that this is one of the areas where you don't have to pay for anything.
We went back to the room, took showers and got ready for formal night. When we had on our tux and gown we headed downstairs to the photography studio, where we did a photo session for about half an hour before dinner. The photographer, Elaine from the UK, was very good and very professional and pleasant. It felt a bit rushed, but that's understandable because they were on a schedule. Then we went to have dinner at 150 Central Park. So far, the food on this cruise had been well below average.
This dinner was a 9 out of 10. I'm not gonna go over every item on the tasting menu, but I can tell you that the only thing we didn't think was that great was the salmon with the fried dill. Could have been much better, but then again, I'm not a fan of cooked salmon. Other than that, everything on the menu was exceptional. No need to go into any further detail, don't ask any questions, run, don't walk there. You will not be disappointed. Service was impeccable as well. After dinner, we walked around a bit and tried to check out a couple of other venues.
I was particularly interested in the cigar lounge because I smoke cigars... I was very disappointed. The "cigar lounge," looks nothing like a cigar lounge. It looks like a bar on a deck with a couple of beach chairs. No music, no band, no selection of fine single malts, no nice chairs or couches, nothing to make you feel like you were in a place where you can relax and smoke a nice stogie. Unfortunately, this is the only option for cigar smokers on the ship because at the Jazz club, where you'd think you might be able to light up a cigar, you can chain smoke Marlboro lights till everyone smells like a nicotine sewage, but you can light up a fine hand rolled tabaco. We then went back up to the Viking and had a very nice time drinking some very well priced McCallen 18's and listening to our favorite Philipino band. That's how we ended our night.
Woke up earlier, at about 9:45am. I had a bit of a hangover, but felt alright in no time. Wife wanted to go down to get a donut at their donut shop. I was surprised to find that I was not going to be charged for this, "specialty treat." However, after trying those donuts, I understand why I am not being charged. Wife thought the strawberry donut was pretty good. I thought they tasted like a wet napkin with glaze. I was hungover, crabby and hungry, so we went up to the Windjammer to try the breakfast. I guarantee that will be the last time I go to the friggin' windjammer. That was some terrible food, once again. I had a fresh squeezed oj, which was good and I also paid $3.95 for it. The we headed back to the gym and got another good workout.
Back in the room, we checked our calendar on the monitor and still it was incorrect. They had not been able to fix it and apparently, they would not be able to fix it for our entire cruise. I spent some more time with guest services, trying to figure out what we were doing for the day. Then we tried to take a nap, but the wonderful placement of our room on the ship, backfired against us, because we had to listen to the most annoying and longest dance lesson in the history of dance lessons. They were teaching how to do the MJ Thriller dance and all we could hear was, and 1 and 2 and 3 and hip hip hip, 4 and 5... it was like listening to a rusty nail scraping a chalk board for one hour. No sleep for us. We should have look at the schedule. Our bad. The we got ready for more of the photography session. This time, we did a full hour with Elaine and one extra change of clothes. That was nice and we had a good time. People thought we had gotten married and we were getting congratulations all over the ship. Did pics on the boardwalk and casino and jazz club... very nice.
Then we went to dinner at the Solarium. After my experience with the lunch there, I was very, very skeptical. Let me tell you, once again, dinner was magnificent. Yes it was a healthier option, but the food was very well prepared. The service was top notch. The room was beautifully arranged for an intimate dinner, with the exception of the soda fountain, which they had not covered and created quite the eye sore. Then we hit the casino, where I played a much more calculated game of Roullette. Won big on one of the early hands and made back my starting $100 bill. I put that away and then played the rest until I lost. We had a good time.
Then we went to the comedy club, where again, I was a bit skeptical. I mean, a comedy show on a cruise ship..??? But it was really really good. Those guys were all hilarious. They picked on my wife and I constantly, but it was loads of fun. The guy called us the Latino Ken and Barbie. Then asked me if I sold drugs for a living. It was great. We called it a night after that because we had to get up early for the excursion in St. Thomas. When we got back to our room, they had given us a new piece of luggage to make up for the one they broke. But only one suitcase was replaced... hmmm... what's gonna happen with the other one... we'll see. I set the wake up call for 7am and we hit the sack.
I could hardly sleep, thinking about how we had to be up at 7am. I remember at 6:45am, I was awake, but figured our wake up call would come in at 7am. At 8:25am, my wife wakes me up. No wake up call. We had to be with the tour at 8:15am. I ran downstairs to guest services, pissed off beyond belief. I talked to Sam, who was the main person that I was complaining to about the other stuff. The next 20 minutes was a frenetic race to try to get us on that tour. We missed the boat by 2 minutes and watched them sail away right in front of us. We came back into the ship very upset. This was the thing that my wife was most looking forward to on this cruise. They tried to make it up to us by booking us on a scuba tour and refunding our money and whatever, but it wasn't going to make up for it. I didn't even ask what kind of refund we'd be getting. I'm sure they'll take care of us. We decided to make the best of the day. Had breakfast at the coffee shop, where we had these little sandwiches that were pretty decent. I'd rather eat here than at the windjammer any day.
We went off on our tour, which was not bad, but it wasn't what we were hoping for. At the end of the day, we had a good time scuba diving in shallow depth. We had never done that before and I'm glad we got to try it. Now we might want to get certified in Scuba for real. There wasn't really a whole lot of fish or nice colors to look at, but I'm glad we did it. The rest of the island of St. Thomas was really kind of a shit hole. I guess the beaches are pretty decent, but nothing we hadn't seen before.
The place looks like total crap. We decided to not even bother getting off in downtown and just passed on the island altogether. After Snuba, we came back to the room where a bottle of champagne awaited us, compliments of guest services for our bad experiences. It was a bottle of Korbel... they should have at least sent the Vueve. For lunch, I stuffed my face. Wife had some of those little sandwiches from Mondo cafe and I got some pizza. I had a couple of ok slices, but also had a specially made to order pizza that was really good. We felt pretty fat after that, so we went to the gym and busted our asses. I ran almost 4 miles and wife did a 5k. Then we worked out back.
Went back to the room, got ready for dinner and headed out early at about 7pm, to Izumi, the sushi restaurant where they of course, charge a la carte prices. As expected, the food was ok. We are spoiled with incredible sushi in Miami so I understand that we are pretty hard to please. We didn't eat too much. Ordered a tuna carpaccio, which was good, a sashimi sampler, which was also pretty good and a champagne lobster roll which was really a bit sad. Sake wasn't bad. Overall, this is a decent sushi restaurant where, if you don't know any better, you'll probably think it's very good. The dEcor is nice, but as I often found in this ship, they miss little details here and there that should not be over looked. In this case, the soy sauce was on the table in its original Kikkoman bottle. Put it in a container guys... then we went to the Casino, where I did pretty good... by pretty good I mean, I got to play for a very long time and managed to break even. It was fun.
We passed by that Headliner show starring a guy name Earl... I can't give you too much of an opinion here because we were there for only 5 minutes or so, but in those 5 minutes, I gotta say, we ran out of there as fast as we could because it looked terrible. Maybe it got better later but were not willing to stick around long enough to find out. Called it a night at a reasonable hour. Wanted to make sure we woke up on time for our tour the next day in St. Martin.
Sam had promised to make up for our non wake up call by setting up 2 wake up calls herself, one for 8am and one for 8:15am. I slept all night, tossing and turning, because I kept stressing about waking up on time for this next tour. We woke up with our cell phone alarm clocks at 7:30am, which I had set in order to prevent yet another disaster. I'm glad I did because those wake up calls at 8 and 8:15am never came. I went downstairs to get breakfast while wife got ready. Brought back some sandwiches, coffee and fresh squeezed Oj from Mondo and ate breakfast on the balcony overlooking St. Martin. What a beautiful Island and what a difference between this and that dump they call St. Thomas. Right after breakfast, we headed out to meet with our tour guide.
The tour was called the Extreme, and it included canopy zip lining, hicking, obstacle crossing, etc... they warned you several times that this was not for the feint of heart, but honestly, I thought they were exaggerating because they always tell you something is scary when it really is nothing but a piece of cake. This was not the case here. The Extreme adventure is definitely extreme and a ton of fun. We were sweating our butts off... dripping in sweat. There were 13 zip lines and most of it was done with almost no supervision. It was definitely worth it, so if you think your legs and arms can take it, go for it. Best excursion I've ever been on.
Came back to the ship for lunch, soaking in sweat and decided to try the solarium for healthy eats again. This time, it was very good. They had tacos set up for healthy chicken or steak tacos w/ guacamole. Very good stuff. We ate a lot, but didn't feel disgusting afterwards. Then we hit up the ice cream stand again and some dessert for wife at the windjammer cafe.
After lunch, I dropped off wife at Vitality spa for a 75 minute Hot stone massage. Apparently, it was very good, unfortunately, they booked the "relaxing" massage in a room where they weren't supposed to when the ship pulls up anchor. The Spa is on the 5th floor and the Anchor was shaking the room like 10 on the Richter earthquake for about half an hour. Obviously, not very relaxing. I called the spa manager and she knew exactly what I was talking about, apologized and offered to comp our next massage, which was already booked for Friday. Right after the massage, we went down to the photo studio where they were going to show us the pictures from the last couple of days.
The point was to take these beautiful pictures and then purchase one of their packages, which we were told "started" at $575. I thought that was a little steep because we take a lot of professional pics at home and pay much less, but I had figured, what the heck, we'll have some nice pics here on the ship. They showed us a beautiful slide show with about 175 wonderful photos of the two of us all over the ship. We loved it.
Unfortunately, what they did not mention was the that $575 entitles you to ONE large print of your choice and 4 8x10's. No digital pics. So I would have to pick 5 pictures, of the 175 that we took and that's it. If I wanted something better, then next price point was $1,250. Followed by $2k, $4k, $8k, and finally for the last package you had the choice of turning in your car or giving them $16k. I thought, you know, even if I don't like the $575 package, I would be willing to look at the more expensive options, think that since the starting price point was $575, the next might be $700 or $850.... No... thousands of dollars for a handful of pictures. You have got to have a humongous pair of nuts to take all these beautiful pictures of us, show us a slide show and then tell us that the first decent package will cost me $2,000!!!! Even the $16,000 package did Um... yeah... we passed. Just so you get an idea of what we normally pay. The last shoot we did, we took about 250 professional and gorgeous pictures, paid $299 and received a 25x20 print and a CD with every single picture we took, which we can then print as we desire. For a $1,000 bucks, I can offer this photographer a free cruise, book him on this ship in an interior stateroom and have him follow us around for a week snapping pics. What a rip off. Very disappointing.
We got ready to head out again. Went to the Casino, I lost a couple hundred bucks and called it a night. Went to a couple of the clubs. Lame. Lame. Lame. Went back to the room and had our own party.
Already getting tired of being on this ship. I feel like I'm locked in a giant tourist trap. Everywhere you turn, someone's trying to sell you something. You're working out at the beautiful gym and the whole time you have to listen to a loud, obnoxious seminar about how everything is bad for you and the only way to avoid or fix issue xyz is to buy their product, use their service, pay pay pay!!!! Come attend a jewelry seminar. We'll give you this piece, valued at $50 for freeeeee!!! You'll be so happy that you'll then overpay by 3 or 4 times the regular price for something else we offer you. It's making me a bit sick actually.
We went downstairs to the Park Cafe, where we ordered some paninis. Pretty good actually. Sitting at the park and having those sandwiches without someone up my ass trying to sell me something was nice. Then we went to the pool at the Solarium, which is adults only and lounged around drinking champagne and mimosas all afternoon. Tonight was the second formal night. We had the tux and the dress ready to go, but we were just not into it. I think the next cruise we take will be when we have kids or when we are 60 so we can blend in with the rest of the crowd. Being from Miami and going out to South Beach and the nice areas, we are used to, um... let's just say, something else. Being in the regular pool area would mean that we are surrounded by kids jumping and splashing all around us. Being in the adult only area means you have to be retired.
There were veeeery few people our age on this ship. Out of 6,000 people... it was amazing. I would love to see what the average age groups are on this ship. And we are here on college spring break, so you'd think it would be a fun party. Wrong. You are either toting around 4 kids, or your are wearing Hawaiian shirts and black socks to your knees. I guess the younger crowd can't justify spending $5k on a ship, when they can go on another cruise for half the price. I know this because we tried to get some friends to come with us on this trip and nobody wanted to spend so much, so we just did it ourselves. I guess that's the general consensus. If you're young (20's and 30's) and want to have fun with people your age DO NOT GO ON THIS SHIP! It was the same with the clubs. Dazzles, Blaze... so friggin' lame. Terrible music. Horrific crowd.
So we decided to stay in the room and just avoid the ship all together for the rest of the night. We ordered room service... this was very good. Not because the food was outstanding, because it was not, but because I ordered it from the manager of the main dining room. I went up to him, personally and told him that my wife and I weren't feeling too well and would rather have the food delivered to our room. He called the order in himself and treated us very well. As a matter of fact, he over ordered, not at my request, just as a kind gesture. This was unnecessary because my wife and I don't eat like slobs, but it was kind and gracious of him, nevertheless. He ordered 2 appetizers, 3 lobster and shrimp platters and 2 huge prime ribs, along with 2 dessert sampler trays. I think we would have been find with 2 lobster dishes and 1 dessert. The lobster was not bad... maybe a little tough. The prime rib was decent, not a ton of flavor. The appetizers were not bad either. The dessert was really nice. Overall, it was a decent meal with excellent service... That was the end of our night... hit the sack early.
Oh, by the way, we really weren't feeling very well. This ship is a very rocky and shaky ship. I've only been on 3 cruises, but I don't remember any of the others ever moving so much. We were both feeling a little nauseous all day. When I walked down to the main dining room, it was funny because everyone was walking side to side collectively because of the swaying of the ship.
I'm almost out of here. Really looking forward to my delicious bed at home and a nice, quiet night's rest. I can't say that I've had one REALLY good night's sleep on this ship. Allow me to explain why. The "King" bed is really 2 singles, put together with a mat on top. This mat is higher in the center of the bed then on the sides. The result is, I feel like I'm sleeping at a slight, but very disturbing angle the entire night.
The second reason why I can't get some decent rest? This ship is very noisy. By noisy I don't just mean the music and the crowd. I mean, the ship itself. The sound proofing. I don't know if we just had bad luck with the people on the floor above us, but I swear it sounded like these people had 12 kids doing cartwheels at the craziest hours. Boom. Boom boom.... Booooooom. Badaboom. I mean all friggin' day and night. At any time you want to sleep. It was never EVER completely quiet. And forget about trying to take a nap during the day. The carnival downstairs and the aqua theater shows made it feel like you were in a muffled amphitheater in your room at all times. When there was no booming from upstairs or muffled music and people on loudspeakers downstairs, we were treated to a constant creaking sound that I guess stemmed from the fact that the ship was swaying so much.
By the way, they still have not fixed our personal calendar. We went out to the main dining room for the "royal breakfast." As we headed out, we noticed that we had been double booked for 2 specialty restaurants so I called the reservations desk to explain to them that we needed to cancel one of them. I cancelled 150 central park, but then they told me I only had that one reservation. I explained that I had a card in my hand that read that we were confirmed for tonight at Chops. The guy told me that he went ahead and cancelled 150 but that there was no other reservation. So basically, now I didn't have a dining option for tonight and he made no effort to fix it... I just hung up and figured we'll just go to Chops and hope for the best. I'll take the card with the confirmation with me. It will be interesting to see, when I get the bill at the end of this cruise, how much of a disaster it's going to be. Looking forward to that.
We had the "ROYAL" breakfast with was average, again. I had the crab cakes benedict... not that great. I left most of it on the plate. At this point, I'm pretty used to the disappointing food. Today, we are heading to Atlantis in the Bahamas where we have tickets to the water park. This should be fun, so I'm looking forward to it. I just dropped off wife at Spa for her complimentary massage. Hopefully it will go well for her.
Looks like the massage went pretty well... until, of course, they tried to sell her a package that she absolutely MUST HAVE!!!! For only $1,500 they offered her a wonderful detox package. She has had this on other ships before for about 1/3 of the price. She also has had it here in Miami for about $300. It's shocking to me the prices that these people continue to throw at us. I am actually beginning to feel insulted. It's like, "how much is this glass of water?" "well, sir, today, for you only, we have a special. You can take that glass of water home for only $149.99!" It's amazing.
My wife and I go through money at a pretty ridiculous rate. We go out to eat several times a week and I'm not talking about cheap places. We go to all the best restaurants in Miami. A typical bill for us on an average night out is $150-200 for dinner and wine... and that's just for a regular week day that we decide we want to grab a quick bite. And to us, these prices are so absurd that we have to really wonder, who in their right mind thinks, "Ok, $1,500 isn't bad for this detox package. Or $4,000 is an acceptable number for these photographs. Am I missing something here? We do very well in our household. Probably in the top 10% of income, but even if I were in the top 5%, I have a sense for the value of money, where I simply do not think I could pay some of these ridiculous prices. So who buys these things?
Well, the trip is pretty much winding down. There are some good things and some bad things, but overall, we've had a good time. Definitely not what we expected. We decided to end the night with a bang. Went to Chops Grille for dinner. Chops looks like your typical, cruise specialty restaurant/steakhouse. Despite the confusion earlier with the reservation, they sat us immediately, as has been the case for all the specialty dining. The service was, again, stellar.
My wife ordered the sashimi trio, cured in star anise, which was excellent. I had the lobster carpaccio which was, not that great. When the waiter came by to ask how the food was, I told him I really liked the fish trio. So he went and brought me one too, without me asking. Very nice. I almost wish he hadn't because I ended up eating too much. But it was a nice gesture and it really was an excellent appetizer. The waiter continued to attend to us very well, constantly refilling our wine glasses. For our entrEe wife had the filet mignon and I had the short ribs and we shared the mashed potatoes, mushroom and bock choy and potatoes with parmesan and prosciutto, which is one of the best sides I've ever had. Everything was absolutely top notch. Oh, and the desserts were amazing. Chocolate cake was phenomenal and the berry mouse dessert was perfect. We couldn't stop eating it.
At the end of the night, the manager came to our table and had a nice conversation with us and then we headed back up to the room. All in all, as has been the case with the specialty restaurants, the service and quality were better than anything else you'll find on a cruise ship. As I said, we went back up to the room and called it an early night. It was a good way to end our cruise and we didn't want to screw it up by visiting another cheesy club. Day 8
We took the morning to pack our suitcases and head out. I had an issue with the bill, as expected, but it was quickly resolved when I went down to the guests services. I don't know if everyone else had as pleasant an experience with guest services as I did because I made sure to speak to a manager every time, so really, I don't know how the rest of the customer service attendants resolved other matters. Unfortunately, I spent too much time down there and there were way too many mistakes for a cruise of this caliber. Exiting the ship was painless, until we arrived outside. We had been dropped off by a friend when we arrived, but we had planned on taking a cab to Miami on the way back because I didn't want to bother anyone with picking us up. I had no idea there would be a line of 200 people to get a cab. It was terrible. I ended up hitching a ride with a van that was headed to Miami Int'l Airport and my wife and I crammed into the front seat together. It was a very uncomfortable ride, but it was much better than standing in line for an hour, waiting for a cab.
I've written 8 pages worth of information here that will hopefully help the next cruiser make a decision about this ship. I know these reviews help me tremendously when I'm trying to decide where I'm taking the next trip, so I'm trying to do the best I can. I have complained about a lot of things, but I think I've given credit where it is rightfully due. In this summary, I will rate a few of the major categories and touch upon some of the things I really liked and really hated.
Food - B + Average throughout the ship. Fantastic for most of the specialty restaurants. Breakfast was usually pretty average, but there were some good alternatives throughout the ship. Selection was relatively plentiful. Paninis in Park Cafe were good. Mondo Cafe had some nice little sandwiches. Solarium had some good options. We only tried the main dining room food one night and that was delivered to our room... not bad. If I were rating only on the specialty restaurants, I'd give it an A+ (except for Giovanni's, which was about a C)
Service - A Excellent service pretty much in every category, particularly the specialty restaurants, but also at guest services, where I imagine they have a lot to deal with. Sometimes the phone service wasn't so great, but I imagine they must have had their phones ringing off the hook with all the screw ups on the ship.
Room - C- Nice looking rooms, but way too small. We had our luggage out in the balcony the whole time. If you misplaced a couple of things, the entire room looked like a disaster. Do not over pack. Gym - B+ I would give this an A+ if it weren't for the fact that something as common in a decent gym as a spinning class carried an extra charge. The gym itself is the best gym I've ever used, period.
Nightlife - D- Some good musicians throughout the ship saved this from being an F. These venues are all so cheesy and the crowd is a total joke. If you are in your 20-30's you will not find a dang thing to do in this entire ship at night. Your only hope is to get completely obliterated at the bar, then maybe you'll find the nice 60 year old couples dancing to be a pretty good time.
Spa - C Overpriced. Spa time is supposed to be relaxing and, although the massages were average, my wife tells me it's hard to relax when you've got the anchor shaking your room like an earth quake. It's also hard to find relaxation when the entire time you are there they are on top of you, trying to sell you other packages, other products, etc... it felt like a used car dealership.
Sports zone - B- families might find this to be an A. I could go without watching 200 children running around all day, but that's just me. It was kind of a pain to get to try some of the things that you read about. I'm not on a cruise to make an hour line for a wrist band, so I never tried the flow rider or zip line. Near the end of our trip I could have because the lines had died down, but I still didn't want to make a line to try the flow rider for 3 seconds, then fall on my face and get on the back of the line. I enjoyed the basketball court, the ping pong, the pools were nice, but too many kids pushed me to the solarium.
Solarium - B - this was a much nicer space, but again, not our crowd. Nobody our age. I imagine this would have been a great time for us if we had some people in our age group to talk to. Lots of nice Jacuzzis and pool areas, with decent, healthy food.
Windjammer - D This was a total cluster screw. Kids running around everywhere. Food was total junk. Not even delicious junk. Just bland, sad, uninspired food. Always jam packed. No thanks.
Boardwalk - B Nice space. Even with the kids, it was nice to see them busy doing something. Face painting and other such activities were nice. Carousel was nice enough that my wife and I got on it too. Aqua theater was nice, but I expected something better. It was hyped up quite a bit and really, I was a bit let down. But the reason this space didn't get an A was because all the good stuff, you had to pay for. I thought that the $2k/person price tag for my stateroom should have included the ice cream parlor and something as cheesy as Johnny rockets. The donuts were free, but they were probably the worst donuts I've ever tried. I have never in my life, taken a bite out of a donut and said, "you know what, I don't want the rest of this..." Well, there's a first time for everything.
Central Park A - Again, I was a bit let down. The hype surrounding this was pretty out there. When I saw it in person I was a bit disappointed. A couple of hundred feet of park, they had made it sound like it was a tropical paradise on a ship. Not so. However, the space still gets an A because of all the great dining venues on the strip. I'm glad we had very pleasant weather because we were able to comfortably enjoy our time out there. If it weren't for that ridiculous Photo Studio, I would have given it an A or A+. Promenade - C+ I didn't really enjoy it down here too much. I felt the stores were cheesy, the prices were terrible and it was always crowded. I didn't give it a lower score because I did enjoy making my own pizza and the cafes were not bad. But really, you'd think that coffee, being one of the world's most plentiful and cheapest commodities would be free for all guests. I guess Starbucks would never agree to that.
Shows - D I suggest you see these for yourself, because I don't trust my own opinion here. If it's not broadway, I probably don't like it. Maybe you will. We tried watching Hairspray, the Headliner and the Frozen in Time show and walked out after a few minutes. So you can compare, we watched Phantom of the Opera and Wicked our last trip to NY and loved every second. So, I don't know what to tell you. The comedy show was an absolute blast and one of the funniest shows I've ever seen. Everything else, I could live without. Ship C+. It's a beautiful ship. I might have enjoyed it more if we hadn't been researching everything about it for 6 months before we boarded. Perhaps we ran up our expectations too highly. I do have a problem with the stability of the ship. I thought this was going to feel like an immovable object because of the sheer size. Instead, it was the shakiest ship I've ever been on and it was a bit nauseating. I thought that for having 6k people on board, the guests were pretty well spaced out. It was rare to feel crowded or to bump into the same people twice.
Casino B -. was a decent size and had some good options. I wish they had some more roulette tables. It was above average, nothing spectacular. Price D. Not worth it. Overall, for the 2 of us, we spent about $6k. For $6,000 I can think of a couple of dozen trips I would rather spend a week of my life taking.
Other things we enjoyed - Viking Crown Lounge, ice creams at wipeout cafe, make your own pizza at Sorrento's, Wall-E on the big screen at Aqua Theater. At specialty restaurants, you could pretty much order as much food as you wanted and they really didn't give you a hard time about it, even if it was two entrees. Drinks were well priced throughout the ship. Definitely less than what we're used to paying here in Miami. Wine selections were pretty good and you could take your bottle with you when you were done with dinner. Other things we did NOT like - .55/minute for Internet usage. I'm paying $4k to stay in this room, you could give me free internet for crying out loud. Photography, not just at the "Picture This" studio, but all around the ship was annoying and ridiculously priced. $20 for lost towels... come on man... If I lose it, I'm sure it'll turn up somewhere... pick it up for me and put it back. The fact that Johnny Rockets is advertised as something special was pretty disorienting for me. The broke our two pieces of luggage, but they repaired one and replace our largest one with two smaller ones. It was nice of them to replace them, but I've got 10 medium sized pieces of luggage in my house, I really needed that big one. I could not believe that this ship did not have a decent cigar lounge. If you are a cigar smoker, you have nowhere to smoke a decent cigar but you can sit at the bar next to some chain smokers for that oh so good second hand cigarette smoke. Only cigar lounge was out on the deck... and as a cigar smoker, wind is not your friend.
Overall Rating - C Read Less