Embarkation was somewhat disorganised, Baoshan is a new terminal so still has some teething problems. The terminal staff, while pleasant,didn't seem to know what was happening.
This was our first cruise in a Junior Suite so I was quite excited but disappointed to find out that there was no priority wait or boarding area for suite guests. When questioned the staff had no idea what I was talking about. The terminal is very large and clean however quite hot as there was no air conditioning only fans. Once through security the whole process improved dramatically and upon entering the ship there we were met by staff to direct and answer questions.
First impression of the ship was that even though over 10 years old she is still impressive. We headed straight up to the Windgammer for lunch which while not gourmet was certainly adequate. The Island Grill area was pleasant and we ended up eating most breakfasts there due to the view from the tables by the windows.
The announcement that cabins were open was given at 1.30pm and as I was "itching" to have a look at our Junior Suite went straight there as my husband was eating. While I agree with others that the cabin decor is quite dated it was clean and comfortable. The extra space was great and tea and coffee making facilities an added bonus as was the very large closet which not only held our clothes but large suitcases as well. 1350 is a connecting cabin and,contrary to other reports, we didn't hear a peep from the adjoining cabin. I had actually thought it was empty so was suprised to see the occupants, a couple and 2 young boys, on the balcony the 5th day of the cruise. Our cabin steward, Jerry, while unobtrusive, was very pleasant and kept the room clean and tidy. Though not requested he kept my husbands beer cold at all times by continually topping up the beer bucket with ice, this alone earned him his WOW card! I feel the beer bucket was good value, buy 6 get 2 free at $29 including tips.
We really enjoyed the Schooner Bar and spent evenings there listening to the very good vocalist and piano player, I can't believe I have forgotten his name. The production shows with the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were very good however the Australian magician and Abba tribute show weak(and I am an Aussie so am being lenient). I also enjoyed the Royal Promenade Dream Works parade even though my husband spent his time in the shops as it was naturally aimed at children. Went to one bingo session but it was terribly disorganised, mainly due to the behaviour of other guests, and as the cash prizes minimal would not go again. The Ice Show was also top class and I feel giving guests designated viewing times worked very well.
I know Royal Caribbean have had a "panning" of late in this area but personally thought the food was quite good. We ate in the main dining room every evening except one with My Time Dining which worked well for us as it gave us flexibility. We were always seated immediately most evenings in our preferred table by the window and all dining room staff were pleasant and helpful. While some meals were not great all were edible and waiters would have been more than happy to bring an alternatives if we had wanted them. The chocolate souffle for dessert on the 2nd night was to die for,so much so I had a second helping. Overall I feel RC do a good job in this area. May I add that the staff in the Wingammer were also 'top notch' with any request being attended to with a smile.
Now for the negatives
We were among the 300 odd non Chinese speaking guests onboard along with 3050 Chinese speaking guests.
A large number of the Chinese speaking guests continually pushed and shoved their way everywhere whether it be into the eating venue queues,shows,movies,lifts or rest rooms. The dining venue staff tried to have guests queue in an orderly fashion but were fighting a "losing battle". The most deplorable behaviour was the constant spitting into bins,rest room sinks and even as I saw once onto the floor outside the Windgammer! I was not able to eat breakfast after witnessing this as it understandably made me feel quite ill. When notified the staff at Guest Relations empathised but seemed at a loss to know what to do about it.
A number of guests continually chattered throughout shows and particularly the English speaking movies which made it difficult to hear. As the majority of movies were screened in Mandarin it was totally unnecessary to disrupt the English versions.
While my comments may be seen as harsh by some it really was an issue and while it will not stop us cruising with the line in the future I spoke with 3 other couples,all fist time cruisers, who said that while they had enjoyed cruising would not do so with Royal Caribbean again. I feel that RC should,at least, notify non Chinese guests that their may be some cultural differences.
I found all crew to be pleasant friendly and helpful as well as the officers and spoke to the Captain a number of times without realising who he was until the last evening. He gave me a lot of information on other ships and destinations to assist with upcoming cruises.
We chose the early self assist option as we had a pickup organised for 8.30am which was prpbably the easiest disembarkation we have experienced on any cruise line. Straight off the ship and through Customs in less than 10 minutes.
While we did face difficulities with fellow guests' behaviour we still had a great holiday due to a great ship and fantastic staff who couldn't do enough for us.