To start, we have been 3 other Royal Caribbean cruises - once on the Radiance of the Seas and twice on Freedom of the Seas. We choose this cruise for two reason, it left on a Sunday and we had not been to a majority of the port before. We traveled with the same core group of people for all our cruises, three couples.
We took a direct flight from Boston to San Juan on Sunday morning. When we arrived in San Juan, it was raining, but we easily found a taxi to the port for our whole group. Make sure you pay attention to the taxi fees when at the airport, it gets complicated with additional passenger and bag fees. No big deal - we are on vacation - right? At the port, I expected mass chaos from the all the reviews I read before I left. It was more complicated than necessary, but not as bad as I expected. It is a two step process - bag drop and then check in. Bag drop is the line closest to the road - check in is three or four lines closest to the building. I did not start a timer, but I would estimate the whole check-in process took about 60-90 minutes and we were problem free.
After check-in, we caught up with our travel companions and found that our travel agent dropped the ball and had us at different tables. When we boarded the ship, we immediately headed to the main dining room and had the problem resolved. I was amazed at how quickly this was fixed.
We then went to our staterooms. It was a typical RC balcony with a couch. One main difference we found was that the balconies were all metal walled. On previous ships, the walls were glass and could be opened to make one big balcony if you knew your neighbors. This was a disappointment to us, but we were on vacation. - right? The room did show it's age - the textiles and rugs were all sun worn and the couch was full of stains. Not a big deal - we are on vacation - right? Well, we did have one problem with our stateroom, that I could not ignore with my vacation mentality. The shower. Of the seven nights on our cruise, our shower flooded or did not drain, or filled when no one was in the shower 4 night. This is unacceptable. The shower filling with water that is not from me - that is just totally GROSS! We called the front desk every time and every time a plumber was sent up. Every day I was assured that this problem was solved and yet it would happen again. I am not even sure if the problem is solved now.
Even with that problem, I was determined to enjoy this and I did.
Food - As always I enjoyed the food, but I do tend to like food. I had all my breakfasts in the Windjammer and they were great. A couple of notes - the coffee is super strong. I drink it black at home, but had to make it light here. I did have an omlette one morning and it was quick and yummy. The fruits, as always, were fresh and flavorful. Lunch when on the ship was a mix between the Windjammer and Johnny Rockets. Both were good and I have no complaints. Six of the seven nights, we had dinner in the main dining room with our waiter Lloyd, our asst. waiter Danielo and our head waiter George. The service was perfect. I couldn't say a bad word about our service. This was a great dining experience. George visited us every night and that is a first for us. Lloyd was honest about the menu and would suggest another choice if he had experienced people not enjoying that choice before. Our service WOWed us. We did go to Portofino's one night, we attended the murder mystery dinner. It was good and the food was great, we just felt the experienced dragged on a little.
Entertainment- We usually do not attend a lot of shows, because we are gamblers. This time we decided to change this us a bit. We went to the adult comedy show with Don Barnhart. He was AWESOME. We attended the Love and Marriage show - which was hilarious. We went to the Ronn Lucas show - he is a ventriloquist and is great. We also attended Quest. That was a blast. One pointer - wear clean undies and have fun at Quest. All four shows were great. I would not change a thing. While I am here, our cruise director , Abel was FANTASTIC. He is fun loving and active in all the activities we attended. I would love to cruise with him again. We also attended Bingo and saw a woman win a cruise at bingo. I actually participated in the slot tournament and won!
One entertainment and food experience did disappoint us. It was the midnight buffet and dancing under the stars experience. We got to the buffet after the show that evening. The food was limited and picked through to the point of disinterest. Then there were people behaving in appropriately while dancing - showing more than anyone wants to see while eating and maybe even when not eating. I expected the staff to get this under control and no one ever stepped in. I was very disappointed. I did not think that was how Royal Caribbean responded to this type of behavior.
Ports - I will write more in each port review, but quickly I will say, we do not do many ship sponsored excursions, because we like to relax and take our time. We liked all the ports, except Antigua.
Overall, I found the staff helpful and friendly and we had a great time. The key to any vacation is making sure you don't let the little things ruin it. I look forward to my vacation and have realistic expectations. I am not as happy with RCI as I was before this trip, but I would not change it.