A bit of background about us: Couple 36 + 40yrs old. Celebrating 4th wedding anniversary. In dire need of a vacation. Have traveled on Norwegian, Carnival, Costa and also Cunard. This was our first time on RCL. Probably not our last.
We pick our cruises based mainly on timing. Price and itinerary always a factor too, however we choose this ship because of the dates.
Bayonne was convenient since we live in Pennsylvania. However having sailed from Manhattan and Red Hook Brooklyn, I'd say Bayonne was my least favorite. Parking was cheaper here than the other ports, but the check in process here was a bit messy. We arrived at the parking lot at 1pm. Arrived to a long line of people. Thought coming this late would avoid the lines...Next time I'd plan to arrive at 2pm. It took over an hour to check in, get on the little shuttle bus and get onto the ship. Nothing horrible, but my suggestion, aim for 2pm arrival. Ship was scheduled to depart at 4pm. We actually left port closer to 430.
Get early dinner seating. This way you can see the 2nd seating show, rather than have to go to the show prior to dinner, and then left with not much to do in the evenings. Prior to traveling we were given late dinner. When we boarded we went straight to the Maitre d and had it changed. Glad we did.
Don't bring your lap top. It will not work in your room. We paid the Wifi package, only to find out we could not access internet in our room. Was told it was not a "hot spot" luckily for us we were on the 8th floor and very close to the internet cafe. Normally when I read reviews and see people complaining about the internet I think what is wrong with you, you are on vacation. However, as a business owner, it is important that we stay connected. In my previous cruises, even Carnival, they had Wifi access in the room. For us, this was important. It might not be important to you. My suggestion, leave the lap top home, less to pack and rely on the 8th floor internet cafe. It was never crowded, however it was always slow connection.
Skip Portofino. We prebooked for our anniversary. I wish we had saved the $40. We have done all the upscale restaurants on other ships. This was not worth it.
Was told "no" when I asked for ice tea. Was told I can get that in the main dining room. I was surprised for $20pp I could not have an ice tea. There was no surf and turf on the menu. It was lobster night in the MDR, however we could not order lobster. The risotto which I had read so much about was OK. The best part was the table side Caesar salad. It was very good, but not worth the $40. I was disappointed.
Make sure to see the Ice Show. This was fantastic. Best show on the entire cruise. Tickets are handed out (free) on day 2. Make sure you get some. We actually forget and luckily our table mates picked up a few extra. They had been told by family who did this cruise that the tickets go fast. I was so happy they thought of us. I was really impressed by the show. (bring a sweater!)
Go to Maho Beach on St. Martin. See the airplanes overhead. This was amazing to see, and the beach, although quite small, was beautiful.
If adventurous, do the Zip Line on Labadee. My husband loved it.
On San Juan, walk to San Cristobal. It is close enough, a bit of a hill, but surely walk able. This was a wonderful old castle/fort with a lot of charm and great views over the coast. Since you only have 3-4 hours in port, spent it in one place and don't be rushed. It will be hot and humid. Buy or bring some water. Wear a hat!
If you have an Iphone you can use it in San Juan to call/text the USA. No roaming charges. It was nice to call home mid-cruise and simply check in.
In Bermuda we stayed at Kings Wharf area. Took 2-3 hours exploring the fort and seas side town and ended with an hour of shopping. Very expensive.
Overall RCL was a good choice for us. Although from the NYC area they tend to me more expensive than Norwegian or Carnival, for this trip we enjoyed ourselves.
The public bathrooms were always clean. The staff was overall very pleasant and helpful. There were always chairs by the pool, and if you looked hard, even in the Solarium area!
We did self disembark. We were called by 745am, off the ship at 8am and in our car by 815am. That was the quickest we have ever gotten off and through customs.
PS: We read a lot about the "foul" smell on this ship. We never experienced it ourselves.
Although it is not the newest ship out there, and perhaps most of the rugs need to be replaced, it was a good relaxing trip, exactly what we needed.