This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean, but our second cruise overall.
This time, the check in process in Bayonne was quick and easy. We arrived at 11:15 AM and were eating lunch in the Windjammer Cafe by 11:45 AM. We walked around the ship for a while until our room was ready, sometime after 1:30 PM. Our luggage arrived before 5 PM.
During the muster drill, the staff assertively told me to stand in the far back of the deck (for 30 minutes, in the heat) and would not let me go to the front. I am petite. As a result, I was unable to see or hear anything during their life jacket presentation.
Our Promenade stateroom was an interior cabin which overlooked the main thoroughfare. The room was small and the location was noisy. The carpet, furniture, and mirrors were worn. However, Danny, our room steward was attentive and kept the room clean.
The ship is showing signs of wear and tear, especially the hallway carpets. The staff works hard to clean the ship. However, a few times we had to remind the staff that the common bathrooms needed attention, especially in the evenings.
We ate most of our meals in the main dining room. We enjoyed the main dining room's fruit and granola cereal bar at breakfast and the upgraded salad bar at lunch. These were healthier meal options. We ate dinner at the 6 PM traditional seating. Our waiters, Carmo and Marko, were very attentive and remembered our special requests. Overall, the food in the main dining room was decent and the service was leisurely. However, the ship's food was saltier than the food I prepare at home. In addition, the dress code was not strictly enforced in the main dining room despite the signage.
My husband bought the soda package, which included a cup that could be used at the Coke Freestyle (125 different flavor combinations) machines in the Promenade and Windjammer. There is a microchip in the bottom of the cup which only allows refills every fifteen minutes at the machine.
We participated in various shipboard activities --complimentary liquor tasting, free exercise classes, trivia contests, port and shopping show, art auctions, diamonds and gems seminar, destination lecture, volleyball tournament, backstage theater tour, etc. The lively and informative art auctions included free champagne and prize raffles.
We did not spend much the main pool area since we could not get a lounge chair and the music (both recorded and live) was too loud. The adults' only pool was better.
The ice skating show was amazing - better than any of the production shows in the Palace Theater.
My husband was happy that there was a live, human dealer at the Texas Hold 'Em poker table. However, the rules of the game changed every night, causing heated arguments between the players and the dealers and the casino floor managers. Also, the casino bartenders did not stop serving alcohol to the obviously drunk customers who were shouting across the bar at each other on several nights, disrupting the gaming tables.
The non-smoking policy was not strictly enforced on the ship. I saw a bartender, who was selling beer on the deck, walk past a passenger who was smoking a cigarette on the non-smoking side of the ship and he did not say or do anything to redirect the passenger. I also walked through a dense cloud of smoke on the 7th floor hallway. When I complained to a female crew member, she said that the staterooms are non-smoking, but guests can smoke on their balcony. Seriously? The smoke was so thick it penetrated from the balcony, through the stateroom, into the common hallway.
There were about 1,000 children on the cruise and most of their parents were nowhere to be seen. The tweens and teens were shouting and running through the hallways and Promenade from 10:30 PM -- 1:30 AM.
Most staff members were friendly and willing to please the guests. We will cruise again.