This was our 21st cruise and we have also sailed on the Grandeur of The Seas (sister ship to Enchantment) out of Baltimore previously. I totally understand some of the comments on cruise critic and on other sites made from long time cruisers concerning the cost cutting in cruising in general. I really noticed it on this ship.
It has been very evident in our last two Royal Caribbean International (RCI) cruises. It is pretty clear they are trying to pay for building massive ships they can't fill. RCI didn't fill this one either because the ship was about 600 passengers short. RCI jacked up the price the last two months (before sailing) and had they not done that the ship would have been filled or close to it. This was the first time I have sailed on a ship not full.
My first comment is the staff on this ship is top notch (except Cruise Director) and this ship is very clean. They were rated cleanest ship in the RCI fleet.
The food in the My Fair Lady Dining Room was good to very good. The breakfast was very good and they had some nice specials like strawberry pancakes. And you can get smoked salmon in the dining room and if you ask at the Windjammer. The lunch salad in the dining room was fresh and had multiple selections. It was one of the best I have seen on any ship and is only available in the dining room. You can get the standard salad bar in the Windjammer but it is not even close to the same. Dinner had good selections and was good to very good. I also want to clarify the comments about not being able to get a table for two. We had no problems getting a table for two during any meals in the dining room. We also had a great table with six others for lunch one day and mixed it up a bit the whole trip. All you have to do is ask and the staff is very accommodating.
Windjammer.....bottom line it is on par with Golden Corral. This is the first time in all my cruises I have ever given out a "poor" mark and it was because of the food and selection. This is an issue for people on 12 day trips because it is your only option at times in port and you don't eat the same things every day at home. Why would you want to on vacation? I did however not have any issues with lines at the buffet. BUT the ship was not full and I can see where that would be an issue. Our solution was to eat as many meals in the main dining room as possible. Room service breakfast is also very good and can be used as a wake-up call. Luckily the Windjammer and My Fair Lady have two separate galleys (kitchens) so the food doesn't suffer in the dining room.
Congratulations RCI, because of the Windjammer and some other issues, you have now reached Carnival Cruise line levels.
I have never seen a cruise line push so many hot dogs, pizza and burgers as I have on the last two RCI trips. Can you say cheap!On the bright side the service in the Windjammer was excellent as it was all over the ship. This is a very good crew and we gladly tipped extra to all because they earned it. I was also allowed to tip in cash and not stuck with pre paid tipping (it is available if you want it).
Chops Grill- we ate here for our 25th wedding anniversary and it was excellent.Nice staek and good seafood (extra charge). Except for us and one other couple, it was all officers and the show dancers. The dancers on this ship do what they want, when they want and only perform(3)times in two weeks.
They all came into the dining room one night for dinner and we lost our assistant waiter who was told to serve them (What?). This really put extra pressure on our waiter and head waiter. They also use the passenger gym even though the crew has a gym. My issue with this is that the waiters, assistant waiters, cabin stewards and other staff (who work their butts off) don't get the same treatment. When all crew can eat in Chops then I'll be okay with it.
Pool towels- you have to swipe your card every time you want a pool towel and will be charged $20 per towel if you don't return them by the end of the trip. My suggestion is to get as many as you want and just ask to exchange then each time. On the last day of the trip make sure you get the pool attendant to clear your account. They don't give receipts. RCI is ridiculous with pool towels (on all ships) and it is annoying. Bright side the pool deck is big and the Solarium Pool is very nice as well.
I used the Gym most days and it was very nice for an older ship. The spa was used by my wife twice and the ladies were super nice and friendly. They run a lot of specials and we had one pre-pay treatment. We were given the price of the special and got a credit back because it was discounted during our cruise. That was very nice of the spa staff.
Cabins-Showing age but very clean. You have plenty of hidden space for storage and you can fit most suit cases under the beds if you lift up on the bed. I didn't like the safe because you had to use a credit card to lock it. But I dealt with it. They were your typical 1990 cabins and okay for the time you spend. I did ask the cabin steward to add some foam padding the first night to get ride of the lump in the mattress. It worked out fine and I slept well. The ship goes to dry dock in December and I'm sure bedding will be addressed.
Entertainment-all headliner acts were very good and you had a magician, comics, singers and some first rum movies played on the big screen in the main theater. The Cruise Director John seems like a great guy until you have an issue. He then hides from you and lets the Assistant Pursuer take the heat. His staff and the activities were pretty weak.
Overall the trip was very nice. Tortola, Antigua, St Marrten, St. Thomas, San Juan and Espanola all beat a day in the office any time. If you go to the beaches on any of these islands, use a cab, you are safe and it saves you a ton of money. You can find cabs and other passengers who will go with you right on the pier.