My husband and I have never been on a cruise and decided that to celebrate our 2nd Anniversary this would be our vacation of choice. We were always very hesitant about cruises because he gets severe motion sickness and I have some anxiety about sailing in open waters. Despite these fears, neither were an issue on this boat. (However... after being off the ship I still feel like I'm moving. I hear this is normal though).
We arrived in Miami for embarkment and our ports of call included Nassau, Cococay, and Key West. Since this was our first cruise we really didn't have anything to compare it to.
Pros: Very clean ship, all of the staff was very friendly and helpful, decent selection of activities going on at all times., Fitness Center.
I've read that this ship had a major update done several years ago and I have to say that it was money well spent. Despite this ship being 15+ years old it def. doesn't look it. The ship was extremely clean and the rooms were well maintained and featured high quality sheets. All of the staff that we encountered were very friendly and helpful. I have to say that the staff on this boat were probably some of the friendliest I've meet while vacationing. Each morning a pamphlet was left on the beds with the itinerary for the following day which included a detailed list of all the activities taking place on the ship. This included Bingo, karaoke, dancing, arts and crafts, and shows. We went to the fitness center on day 1 and I was pleasantly surprised at the amount and quality of equipment they had. I caution those who are tall and want to use the treadmill. I'd take a run on the outdoor track instead since the ceiling height is pretty low. My only complaint is I wish they offered more classes then yoga 1+ at cococay and spinning 1 or 2x's.
Cons: Food, smoking in non-smoking areas, sales-pitchy, $ for activities on Cococay.
My husband and I always wonder if we're picky about the food on vacations since we're from NY (LI) and have some of the best food in the world available at our fingertips. Regardless, we both weren't impressed with the food here. The breakfast buffet was ok and actually looks pretty large upon first glance. But after walking around you realize that it was just repeats of the same dishes you just saw. We didn't have lunch on the boat so we can't comment on that. Dinner was just ok as well. Regardless of the night, or what you order, the meal had the same side dishes night after night...mashed potatoes and roasted veggies. It was almost like diner food, and not from a good diner. I ate it so it wasn't horrible but I did expect more after hearing about the amazing food my mother used to have on cruises in the past. Perhaps that was a different time. Also, I would have loved to stay out dancing all night at the lounges but there were too many people smoking inside (which was not allowed but also not enforced). Also, if you have an activity in those rooms during the day expect to smell smoke since it's probably stuck in the carpets. Again, maybe it's because in NY they banned smoking in bars/clubs 10 yrs ago so it's not something I'm used to. As a non-smoker this really put me off. My husband wasn't a fan that everything seemed like a sales pitch. Each evening they had sales going on in front of the shops promoting deals of 40% off items or $10 for all items. The educated buyer should know that these items were probably only $5 anyway and are always on sale so the 40% off wasn't that big of a deal. If you wanted to eat in the speciality restaurant (Johnny Rockets) it was an additional $5 p/person which isn't a big deal but again, for the first time cruiser it's good to know that not all the food is free. Now Cococay- Royal Caribbeans private island. As other reviewers have said...there's not much to do there except hang around. My husband and I understood that things like jetski's and parasailing would be an extra cost which is fine. But to charge you to use a float, a blow up slide, and their "water park" in the ocean is obsurd. If this is THEIR island it should be included just as it would at an all-inclusive resort, "all non-motorized sports are included". I do have to say that the buffet bbq they had on this beach was pretty good. You never really waited on line for anything and they gave you complementary cups of water for a change (The bottle water on board was $3+ for an average size bottle).
All in all... this cruise was O.k. Not great, but not terrible. It gave us a good sense of how we do on cruises and what a cruise is all about. We'll probably sail Royal Caribbean again but on a different ship.