My husband said it was the best food he's had on a cruise that he can remember. I am a picky eater and found something every night that satisfied me. The breads are all fresh baked onboard and delicious. Butter was readily available despite earlier reports of "Buttergate" flying around social media. Pizza is also made fresh in pizza ovens a few minutes before it hits your mouth. It beats Princess pizza, which is pretty darn good! There are 4 Venchi Gelato shops onboard. Some just have gelato, others have yummy crepes, fresh made chocolate, and even coffee! We ate at Butcher's Cut Steakhouse and our meal was fabulous. Overall the food was a win for me.
We had a Fantastica Balcony, basically a standard balcony for this ship. Aurea and Bella balcony rooms are the same size. It was a little tight, but that's because it had a smaller than average closet. Plus the pack n play they provided was massive. Like, so big that my 5 year old fit in it with extra room! I guess Chicco makes bigger ones in Italy? I loved the curtains. Super thick, which kept the light out, which made my family sleep in! <3 The bed was better than the ones on Harmony back in December. I liked the glass shower door opposed to curtains that some older ships have. The room was alright overall. Not better nor worse than past cruises unless you need tons of storage space.
The ship itself was beautiful. A lot of shiny metals, Swarovski Crystal steps, and more. Everything was clean. The elevator doors were mirrored metal and very rarely did I see finger prints. I saw crew members wiping and cleaning 24/7. There were definitely some design and layout issues though. There was a large round stage-like thing next to the Miami Beach pool that essentially blocked the big screen and stage where day time events occurred. I felt like I had to constantly zig-zag around the ship due to areas not open to the public or that did not allow direct pass throughs. Sometimes I had to go up and over a deck to get to something on the other side. Not a deal breaker, but annoying to say the least.
Pools & Slides
The ship has three "public" pools. South Beach pool was adults only. Miami Beach pool was on deck 16 and was the "main" pool. The Jungle Pool was the magrodome/ enclosed pool. Deck chairs filled up quickly as they don't have a rule against chair hogs. So basically everyone woke up at the crack of dawn to reserve chairs. Pools were all very deep, 6 feet. So hard for smaller kids to really enjoy them. There was also the Yacht Club pool, exclusive to the Yacht Club guests.
The Forest Aquaventure Park was great. My older son loved it. Even my husband and I had fun on the features. There are 4 water slides, two mini slides within the splash area, and lots of water canons. It was closed on the final sea day due to water splashing in to the elevators nearby (another design flaw!) But overall the Aquaventure Park was another win for my family!
We also went to My Life in Music. My baby ended up getting sick during the show and we all took that as our cue to leave. It just wasn't our thing and so that was a blessing in disguise. I really wanted to see the Wizard, Perter Punk, and Timeless but never got around to it unfortunately.
Doremiland (Kids Club)
This left me disappointed. I had high hopes for the kids club. Lego themed, it sounded like a perfect fit for my 5 year old. But sadly it just didn't live up to the hype. We were given wrong information on day two which turned in to an issue with the kids club staff that night. We also had a few safety/security concerns. This was one of the first cruises in which I had to beg my son to go (we wanted a few adult-only dinners). My 1 year old also used the nursery, which was nice, but not quite as good as Disney and Royal Caribbean's nursery program.
I will go in to more detail in my specific blog post about the kids club later.
The best way I can describe the service on this ship was 50% friendly, warm, amazing staff/crew. The first night we had an awesome waiter who anticipated our every need. He was amazing, but we never had him again. The guy running the arcade was uber-nice to us.
The other 50% consisted of crew/staff that didn't know the answers to questions, but still answered anyway and crew/staff who flat out argued when they were wrong. It was frustrating at times to deal with because you never knew if the information was correct. Here are a few examples from the chocolate shop:
My friend and I ordered two identical coffee-chocolate drinks but specifically asked (multiple times) for one of them to be decaf. When the order was presented, she asked which is decaf. The manager was the one serving and turned to ask the guy who made them. He said they were both regular. My friend reiterated that she asked for decaf. The manager rolled her eyes and acted as though we were being unreasonable. Another friend also ordered coffee/chocolate drinks and were given drinks without the coffee. It was rather obvious based on the volume and consistency in the cup. The same manager, but this was on a different day, argued with them about it. Finally it was remade and it was the way it should have been initially.
I think service is something that can easily be improved upon and I will be sharing my experience with the higher ups in the company to help them provide a better experience to guests onboard. I had 8 other families, booked through me, traveling on the same cruise. So I was concerned that my own people were able to enjoy their trip.