I have cruised on this ship 3 times now in the past 6 years. The first two times were incredible - top notch entertainment, the staff was very friendly and catered to my every need. What I remember from those vacations on this same ship was that there was never a lack of entertainment - the food was incredible - and no expense was spared.
After taking a break for a few years and traveling inland for vacations, I definitely noticed some differences.
First and foremost - I want to say that it was still a very nice vacation. However, my experience was missing that added feeling of being "over the top".
If you have never cruised before - you wont be disappointed by your experience. However, if you haven't cruised in a few years - you'll notice MANY places where the company has implemented cost cutting measures. While they wont detract from the cruise newbie - they are noticeable for individuals who have cruised before.
The entertainment was significantly lacking. In years past - there used to be a major entertainment, either in the theater or up on the pool deck. In addition - every bar used to have live music each night as well. This year - they kept the major entertainment - but there were many nights where we went to a bar to have a drink and listen to a band only to be told that "This is the bands off night".
It was Royal's loss as I'm sure my bar bill would have been about $300-$500 higher if they had some tribute or cover bands actually playing in their bars. So in hind-site - I should be thanking them for saving me money by not allowing me to find nightly entertainment and order another few drinks.
One thing I noticed was the reduction in the size of the plates in the buffet - which was fine considering they were the size of lunch trays when we cruised before. The food options have also been reduced over the years as well.
All in all - it's still a great vacation to take. My only complaint would be that I want more "bar entertainment". There were too many nights where I wanted to grab a drink after dinner and unwind - and their was nothing to do on the ship but essentially go to bed.