My granddaughter, age 13, and I had a most enjoyable vacation sailing to the Caribbean.
Pros: Very smooth embarkation and debarkation. Each took less than half an hour. Extremely large variety of activities at most times of day. Ice show was very professional with great costumes and music. Dining room wait staff well trained and helpful. Food was better than expected, but not gourmet. Very comfortable chairs in the library and computer room for reading and people watching. Food available around the clock somewhere. Photographers are not intrusive.
Cons: Minimum drawer space in cabin overlooking the promenade and very tight fit getting around the beds from sitting area to bathroom with beds in twin configuration. Even less shelf space in the bathroom. Constant announcements for revenue generating activities. Almost no feeling of being on a ship. Many may find that a positive feature, but I missed seeing the water from public lounges and feeling a little motion at night. We could not understand the words of the singers in the production shows. Sound was quite fuzzy from where we sat in the balcony. Cabin attendant did absolute minimum or less. We had to call to get ice in the afternoon, and room was not done until evening turn down if we slept in. The casino does not allow double odds at the craps table.
DETAILS Ship and Cabin: The most obvious feature of the ship is that it is BIG. It is tastefully decorated and has excellent signage to find your way around. You will do a lot of walking just to get from one place to another, but you probably will not get lost. The elevators are fast and usually plentiful enough. After a show lets out or when shore excursions return you will have to wait for an elevator, but once on you will get quickly to your destination unless kids have been on and pushed all of the buttons. There are only two locations for the elevators, but many in each location. If your cabin is centrally located, as mine was, you will always walk quite a ways to the elevator then again to your final destination. The hallways have jogs in them so that you do not have a view of endless corridors. There is no wrap around promenade or quiet outside deck chairs, but there is a jogging track on the sports deck way up high. You can go out and stand at the rail on one deck, but this ship is more about inside activities except up on sports deck.
The cabin was small, but adequate. Since drawers were scarce, I left a lot of my clothes in the packing cubes and placed them on the closet shelves. Hanging space was ample for a 7 day cruise. The "duvet" was just a mattress pad in a cover. Very heavy and warm. I asked the cabin attendant to remove it and just put a blanket on the bed. He left the duvet in a heap on the sofa for two days until I asked him to move it. My granddaughter found the duvet to be quite comfortable. We had brought small, lightweight throws for use on the plane. We found them very convenient for afternoon naps too.
The bathroom has three small shelves in the corner medicine cabinet and a shelf under the basin counter. The only amenities provided are towels, bar soap, and a dispenser of shampoo in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the drawer in the vanity table in the bedroom. It cannot be removed from that area. The shower is "clamshell" style so there is no curtain problem. Overall it was small and fairly spartan, but adequate.
Pool Area: The Lido deck is very popular on nice days. There is a pool area for adults only and a family pool area. There are plenty of deck chairs if you get there early enough. I like to be in the shade and was always able to find a chair, if not a lounge. Pool towels must be checked out with your room card and there is a $20 charge if they are not returned. If you take a wet towel to the cabin you must return it to the Lido deck towel area to be credited for its return. This might be why chairs were available; leaving a towel on a chair could cost you money. I really missed the quiet deck chairs for reading on the promenade deck of my favorite ship. The Lido was always noisy as it is meant more for swimming and socializing. There were always bar service staff hawking the expensive drink of the day. I, therefore, did most of my reading in the library or the cabin.
There is a colorful area for water play. Younger children appeared to be enjoying themselves in the sprays, shallow pools, and sliding areas.
Entertainment: There are all of the usual shipboard games and activities plus the ice rink, climbing wall, miniature golf, and the flow rider. Hannah especially enjoyed the flow rider. Surf boards and belly boards are provided. My favorite entertainment was the ice show. It was as professionally done as any on land. You must pick up a ticket to see it, but they are free. Since we could not understand the words of the songs in the production shows in the main theater after dinner we quit going after the first two. One night there was a street dance in the promenade. I had a lot of fun watching the activity from my cabin bay window. The casino has a craps table, but does not allow double odds.
Hannah enjoyed meeting friends in the teen area, but did not participate in any formal children's program activities. I, therefore, know nothing about the program.
Dining: We had a table for 10 with people from several countries, but all spoke English. It made for very interesting conversation at dinner. The food was good enough in the main dining room that we did not try the extra cost specialty restaurants for dinner. Hannah had pizza from Sorentos on the promenade frequently each day. It was quite good. We also used room service in the early morning hours. The food came promptly and was hot when it arrived. There were not a lot of choices, but enough for a late night snack. Breakfast room service was also on time and at least warm when it arrived. There was good variety in the Windjammer buffet for lunch, but the food was quite ordinary, so I ate in the dining room most days. Hannah had lunch on the promenade.
We went to Johnny Rockets for lunch one day. It was good fast food, but not worth the extra charge.
Overall I feel that this is an excellent ship for a group of different ages. There is something for everyone. If your favorite activity is not available when you want it, you can surely find something to enjoy from the multitude of things to do.