My first time and last
First let me say that a friend of mine told me that we'd either love it or hate it being this was our very first cruise. I wouldn't say that I hated it, let's just say I wouldn't do another cruise and will stick with all-inclusive deals instead. There were just too many people in a restricted place to deal with. The crew was always nice and courteous but the passengers were very rude and discourteous. No one let people pass by or if they did you were knocked or shouldered as you passed. Unfortunately after this happened to me a couple of times I had to reciprocate just to make it through the crowd. There were some places on the ship that had some harmonic noise and was difficult to stay in those areas for any length of time. The restaurants were good but nothing to brag about. Since the cruise line has to satisfy differing tastes the food was more on the bland side than anything else. We had prime rib the first night. It was cooked to my liking and tender but didn't have any flavor. I also had a steak one evening in the main dining room with the same results. This was a major factor in not going to the on-board (extra cost) steak house. We did take in the Japanese hibachi one evening and enjoyed that (this is also an extra cost restaurant). Other than that we ate mainly at the buffet and a couple of meals at the pub. We also had lunch at the pool one day where they fired up charcoal grills on a daily basis. The ship was clean and well maintained and the prices for extras (pop, beer, wine, drinks) was reasonable. I did want to partake in a cigar and cognac but the night I wanted to do this the ship was in a bit of rough water and I wasn't quite up to doing it. Since this was our first cruise we decided to splurge a little on the room and got a mini-suite with balcony off the rear of the ship. Nice views. We really tried to enjoy ourselves but never really got into vacation mode again mainly because of the people and confinement. Usually after a couple of days at a beach resort we are in full vacation mode. Another reason we'll probably not go on another cruise is the costs. We spent as much money before the cruise for the trip as we would have for an all-inclusive and we still had to pay for our transportation to the embarkation port and anything on the boat (including mandatory tips called service charges on the bill). Going to various ports turned out not to be a big thing for us since most ports were pretty much the same and very commercial. You really don't get a real flavor for the areas. We did have some fun in Cozumel. My son and I went to swim with the dolphins. We've wanted to do this for a while now and finally did it. When we do all-inclusive vacations we usually hire a taxi for the day the have them take us around the area. We see more that way and get some local flavor. For us, all-inclusive resorts is the vacation choice.
Food and Dining
Service and Staff
Cabin / Stateroom
Prebooking excursions can save some dollars. Sometimes though you can get an even cheaper price once on shore. Don't be afraid to speak you mind to the staff (especially the ones in uniform). They do want to hear comments.