All four of us really enjoyed the cruise. We shared a cabin with an ocean view balcony, and it worked well for us for the most part. Onboarding We got to the cruise around 1:30pm, so the line wasn't outrageous for us. We saw Ryno and Eli in line, then saw Julianne and Troy, then Patti, and that was fun for us as it was a taste of the fun we would have on the ship. Check-in was relatively easy, though the person checking us in was kind of slow. We got through okay, and went into the ship. Although it's fun to be announced on the Disney ships, it was okay that we weren't on this ship. Everything was so new we were just looking around and trying to get our bearings. Our stateroom We had room 9276, which is located midship/aft, right by Dazzles, and near the elevators. We loved our location. It was easy to get to Windjammers and down to the main dining room, and we only got turned around a few times. Although we were close to Dazzles we never heard any noise. In fact, the only time we heard noise was when we opened our balcony door. We also smelled some 'funny' smoke after our trip to Jamaica, so someone was really enjoying their Jamaican purchases. Our room was set up so the bed was first, then the couch, and that worked better for us. There really isn't enough storage for four people, so Nick & Yasmin basically lived out of their suitcases. I was right next to the closet, so took advantage of it. We put our big suitcases under the bed, but not all of them fit, so Nick & Yasmin basically just set theirs on the sides. We made it work. The pull-out couch was too firm, so on the third day we asked for more padding, and it was better. I slept in the bed and found it to be very comfortable, and pillows were fine for me. The Compass was appreciated each night, and we probably didn't use the tv services as much as we could have. We did change our dining reservation for the last night, so that worked out for us. I prefer the split bathrooms on the Disney Cruise Line, but we made it work. We had plenty of towels and used our own soaps and shampoos, so I don't think any of us used the dispenser. The shower was small, but it was sufficient for us. We thought it was funny to have a circular shower. We made use of the small shelves near the sink. I agree that the counter was small, but it worked. We also liked the loops on the towels so we could hang them on the hooks. I missed the clothes liner that we use in the DCL bathroom, but we just hung our wet clothes on the balcony to dry them off. The Ship I really liked the ship. I liked that there were so many lounges to go to and places like the library and card room, though I only used the library once. The central park was nice in concept, but I didn't find myself going through there except the first day and the one time we ate in one of the restaurants there (the one rainy day). I really liked the boardwalk. I didn't spend any time in the shops, but Nick & Yasmin did, and he took advantage of one of the sales to get her a watch that she just loves. I think the fact that we were right by the aft elevators helped in navigating. I didn't use the stairs like I had intended, though. I also liked the interactive maps that helped us to get where we were going and that advertised the different shows each night. Nick took advantage of the fitness center on the sea days and really liked the gym. He said that the equipment was great, and he was pretty much the only young person there. Of course, he was there at 5:45am to work out. He and Yasmin took advantage of some of the healthy offerings, like body scans, etc., and he was pleased with the services. Service Service was fine. Our cabin steward did a great job. She made sure to learn my name and would greet me whenever she saw me. She did a great job cleaning up after the four of us (not that we are high maintenance), and when we asked for extra padding she had it for us each night. She also added four wine glasses to our room when she noticed all the wine bottles we had (we had brought them for dinner). Service from the restaurants was also fine, as was any interaction we had on the ship. We had no issues, but there were no stand-outs either, other than our cabin steward, who also left towel animals each night for us. Dining This was the first time we had My Time Dining, and I liked it because entertainment was all over the place with the times, so being able to adjust our times to accommodate the entertainment and shore excursions was nice. The food was okay, but I think DCL has better quality for the mass dining rooms. We had different servers each night, so didn't develop any relationships with anyone, and some were definitely better than others. There was one who teased/joked too much, and it was a little annoying, but nothing major. Our first waiter was the best out of all of them. She ran into us a couple of days later and still remembered what we ordered and remembered us. I should have requested her for the rest of the cruise, but I'm terrible at remembering names (I should have written it down). Crumbs were only brushed off the table once, and though it's a small thing, I noticed. What I missed in My Time Dining was the camaraderie that we get when we choose main or late dining and eat with other DISers. We enjoyed each meal, but I think we all enjoyed our meals better with DIS friends. It made things better. We did experience some other dining and these nights were highlights for us: Night 3 at the Solarium with about 30 DISers - We loved that meal with everyone, and wish there were more. Kudos and thank you to Evelyn for arranging for all of us to eat at the Solarium together. It was wonderful. The last night we at at Chops, and the meal was delicious. The quality of the food was really good, and we enjoyed everything. My advice for dining here is to watch it on the bread and appetizers because the meat is too good to let go to waste, and we were so full we couldn't finish our dinner. It was expensive for us at $42/pp, but worth it for that one meal, and was a great last dinner on the cruise for us. I would recommend. We also ate at the Chef's Table one day, and that was the culinary highlight for us (despite my mishap ). Everything was delicious, and the lobster was some of the best I've ever had. We also had lunch at the Taquería on the Boardwalk on our last sea day with Michael, Carol, and Beth. It was fun - partly because of the tequila flights that Nick & I had, but mostly because of the shared experience. I like that they have these other restaurants available for lunch and dinner. Some of these places were an extra cost, but there were other places included, like Sorrentos Pizza, and the Park Place Cafe, even though I never tried that one. My advice for dining is that if you go with a group make arrangements early to eat together because time gets snapped up and you might not be able to make reservations at the time you want. Excursions We packed our trip with excursions, and enjoyed them all Haiti - Cruise excursions: We did the coaster run down the mountain, and our only regret was that we didn't get the unlimited rides. It was fun and beautiful, and you get this wonderful view of the beach below and the ship beyond - loved it. We took the historical walking tour, and though it wasn't what I expected, we really enjoyed it. I got an appreciation for Haiti and its people that I didn't have before, and how Royal Caribbean is really helping the island with the revenue (they built a school that three towns use). I also learned that I need to get a Neem tree for my back yard. We also learned about Columbus's relationship with Haiti - very interesting. We also did the jet skis, and they were not what I expected. We went on a tour, and had to follow the leader. I think that if I was driving instead of being a passenger I would have been okay, but I really didn't enjoy it. Nick, Kelly, and Yasmin loved it, though, and we met a couple that ended up being our excursion buddies because we ran into them on various excursions and activities the rest of the cruise. We rated our day at Haiti a 10. My only advice is to make sure you schedule lunchtime. We barely had time to eat leftovers because they were closing up by the time we got to them. When you get off the ship they have fresh coconuts with coconut water, and then they open it for the meat when you've finished drinking the water, and pineapples with juice (liquor optional). Yasmin got the coconut and Kelly got the pineapple -with liquor. They really enjoyed it. The only thing we didn't get and wish we did was the ziplining. We had plenty of time to do it, but it was too expensive on the island. Instead, we went to one of the beaches and got in the water and shared a kayak - just beautiful. Everything was basically walking distance from the ship, though we did take advantage of the tram ride there. Jamaica - Cruise excursion: VIP beach and Dunn River Falls excursion. 10am - 5:45pm This day it rained a little bit and the excursion could have been better. I ended up with a huge sinus headache so didn't enjoy the beach part. I loved climbing up the waterfall, even with all of the people there. The water was refreshing and not too deep. It's not as hurried as I thought it might be, and with the pools we walked through, or could fall into, pictures with water pouring on us - it was so much fun. My only regrets were that Nick & Yasmin couldn't join Kelly and me, and that I didn't have a waterproof digital camera (next time). I got a waterproof camera, but now have to take a bunch of pictures so we can develop the film. After the waterfall climb we went to a beach, and though it was cloudy, the water was refreshing, not cold. They served us drinks and food. The food was okay, but a little tough. I enjoyed my meal at Scotchies a few years ago, more. Also, we ran over and couldn't stop at the store to buy souvenirs, though we were able to get some at the controlled port stores. I would say that this day was probably a 7 for us. Cozumel - Cruise excursion: Horseback riding among Mayan ruins. 8am - 12noon We all enjoyed this excursion. I think the kids more than me, though I enjoy horseback riding. The ruins were small icons, and some were copies, but it was still cool riding. The ranch is about a half hour from the cruise ship. We rode for about an hour or so, then had an opportunity to buy some souvenirs or drinks. The souvenirs were similar to the ones you could find in town, but there were some things that were unique. Also, we could only pay with cash. Afterwards we went to a kind of remote beach with limestone formations. It was really beautiful there, but you could only purchase liquor, food, refreshments and some souvenirs with cash. I had only counted on tips, so didn't buy anything else. We ran into a guy with a big iguana named Mescal, but had no money for pics. Instead we chatted with him about his iguana, and Kelly told him about her animals. He let us pet Mescal. No pics, though. As we ended the cruise we ran in to Ryno, Oliver, et al, and took a taxi to a restaurant called La Candela, where we met up with about 20 DISers who were already eating. The food (including guacamole) and conversation was great. After lunch we meandered back towards the ship, going through the gift shops and getting souvenirs. We still had a half hour in pretty hot sun to go, so I got a taxi for the four of us. None of us had cash, so he took us to an ATM (short walk from the ships and way cheaper service fee than the ATM on the ship or the one at the port), and I got cash, then he took us to the ship. We were so grateful to sit in an air conditioned taxi. Lessons learned from the excursions: Take more cash for tips than expected. I know I way overtipped our guides, but we live pretty well (hey, we can afford a cruise), so I didn't begrudge overtipping them. Take more cash for souvenirs. Not everyone takes credit cards. Also, not everyone accepts American Express, and I found that out at the La Candela restaurant, where we could pay for our meal with the credit card, but they only accepted cash for tips. Also, be sure to schedule lunchtime in those trips, compare cruise sponsored and private tours, take lots of pictures (I missed out on some I wish I had taken), and don't be afraid to go out and explore. There is a lot of beauty out there and very interesting people to meet. Internet Kelly and I got the single item surf + stream packages, and they worked out great. Since we could use any device, but only one at a time we shared the service in our cabin. I thought the Internet was so much better than what we got on the Jewel of the Seas (RC Alaska trip). Ship Paid Activities We did the wine tasting event with Michael, Carol, Kevin, and Patti, and really enjoyed it. Nick's criticism is that he wished that the person hosting would give us a chance to talk about the wine after we tasted it. We did talk quite a bit, so didn't hear everything. Still, we enjoyed it. The other activity we did was the Prohibition Event, which was basically listening to jazz music in a jazz lounge during the prohibition era. So, the host and hostess were in character. A lot of alcohol, I mean, "tea" was served, and they also served some appetizers/finger foods. Most people were really dressed up like in the prohibition era. We didn't know what to expect, so we didn't dress up. It's not something I would do again, but I'm glad we experienced it. Sea Days One of the things I really like during sea days are the games they have during the day, especially trivia. This time I only played trivia on the very last sea day. I was just busy doing "stuff" so missed out. I was never bored, though, and really enjoyed doing 'stuff.' I visited with friends on the first sea day, did zip lining on the second sea day, and got together with other DISers playing Cards Against Humanity (along with my daughter, who reminded me that I once banned that game from our house). We had so much fun with the camaraderie on that last sea day playing trivia and cards. Also, we went to the taqueria bar with Michael, Carol, and Beth and had some guacamole, tequila flights, and Mex food. It was such an enjoyable time. Night Life Big thanks to the guys, especially Corey and Craig, for spearheading our night-time get-togethers. I don't think that we would have met up with so many people and made new friends if hadn't been for those 'pub crawls.' This was one of the highlights of the cruise with all of the fun that we had. I think I went out almost every night (except the night before the 8am Cozumel excursion). Kelly was out more than me, and got back later - she had a blast. Entertainment We only saw one night show, and that was the first night when we saw the aqua show. It was entertaining, and we liked it. Although I had reserved shows on the other nights we never made it to any of them, yet didn't feel like we were missing out. We were busy doing other things we enjoyed. We did go to two shows, though. We went to Love and Marriage with Linda and Phyllis. Actually, Kelly and I did, and it was very entertaining. We also went to the Quest. It was played differently than it is on the DCL ships or Jewel of the Seas, and that could be because the ship is so big and so many people go. There were three rows of DISers, though they split us up. I think we would have won had we been together. Wesley and Kelly were our runners, and we had so much fun. I initially intended to just watch, but got caught up in the game. Kudos to our fellow DISers for working as a team, especially Kevin, who really took one for the team - it was hilarious. Communication I am really glad that we got the internet package because we had a group message going where we would let each other know if we were going to an event (like trivia) or something. I wish I had used it more and earlier in the cruise because it was a great way to keep in touch. For those that didn't have Internet we called each others' rooms. For future reference I think it would be beneficial to plan on a stateroom for communication (white board on the outside door) or agree to use a central spot like the Guest Services Community Board. I noticed it on one of the last days of the cruise, and if I had known of it earlier, I would have suggested using it. I heard that there were DISers that wondered where others were. DIS Events We missed the first meet-up due to me not reading my notes right before getting on the ship, but we did go to the two get-togethers. It was so nice meeting up with everyone, even though you cannot talk to everyone with the time allotted. I also participated in the Blackjack tournament. That was fun, so thanks to those of you that encouraged me to join in. I was really bummed that the weather didn't allow the live podcast as that is a highlight for me, but I was glad to join everyone in Dazzles. I also really enjoyed the zipline time we had. Thank you, Dreams for setting that time aside for all of us. It was really nice to see the team out there and go on the zipline. It was fun hearing the cheers as each person went down the line. Suggestion for getting together in future On other cruises we had a couple of games, like bunco and bingo, and I think that we missed out on not putting together some activities ourselves. I had a lot of fun on the last day with some DISers, and even though we don't know the schedule ahead of time, maybe we can figure out a way to organize getting together. This cruise ship was new to me, so it took time for me to get to know it and understand the schedule. I found it a little challenging with the different show times and dining times, but think that it's worth it to work out for the next podcast cruise. Dreams Touches We LOVED the touches from Dreams Unlimited and would like to thank those in charge for such wonderful treats. We loved our gift bag with goodies, and used them all. We used the white board to leave each other messages, and to leave messages for our cabin attendant. We used the magnet clips to hang our lanyards and clip appointments, etc. Since the walls are magnetic, we were able to place them in different areas of the room. The towel was great, and the message included with it. The strawberries and chocolates were also very good. Thank you so much for these touches. They sure were nice. Debarkation We took advantage of the luggage valet and loved that service. We didn't have to worry about getting our luggage or checking it in at the airport. We left it out on the night before and saw again at LAX. I know that this is long, but wanted to get it out there. I and my family loved this cruise. I think the only thing I'd change would be to spend more time with old and new friends.