Valencia boarding - Not great, but pleasant enough staff, and I guess they dont see enough cruise ship departures to warrant better efficiency. Hated being 'bused' to the ship side.
Cabin - Junior Suite, very nice, the added 'luxury' of having a walk-in wardrobe was very much appreciated, as was the larger balcony and seating area, nice to escape to when the crowds get too much. Deck 10 was VERY handy to nip up to the Windjammer Restaurant and then retreat quickly to your stateroom with a plate of food for some privacy! Kettle and china mugs a noticeable treat.
Food - Overall good. Noticed more and more people choosing the Windjammer in the evening rather than choose the main dining room. Great variety and I felt more experimentation by the chefs at this venue. Opted to ignore Portofinos for this trip, it lacked much atmosphere in its styling when I've eaten there previously. Milk Shakes are KNOCK OUT at Johnny Rockets, a whole meal substitute in itself.
Entertainment - Hit & miss. The Cruise Director Abel clearly loved being on stage and featured in many comedy sketches, perhaps a little too much! He had a good energy though and blended his English & Spanish translations seamlessly, for that he should be applauded. As for his accessibility and visibility throughout the day/night, he could improve on. His Activities Manager seemed redundant compared to the "International Ambassador" who had real charm and great chemistry, and a much meatier role.
Entertainers - The only real stand out moments were the dancers in the production shows and 'feature dancers, and of course the Ice Team, who performed brilliantly on such a small Ice Rink. Andre the Ice Captain was incredible, and consistent too. Special mention should go to the Female Lead Singer on this ship, who sadly left all her colleagues in the shade with an INCREDIBLE voice, range, tone and volume. Well done, it was MUCH appreciated. The Gaucho show, Juan and Iris (or something similar) was DREADFUL. Sorry you two, time to hang up your bolo's and retire to the desert. Live music and Orchestra always work hard and are as good as any other ship. Thank you.
Ship Appearance and Cleanliness - Excellent, well maintained and weathering well. However I would like to ask the interior designers of most of the Royal Caribbean fleet of ships, WHEN were floral pastels and coral coloured furniture EVER in fashion? I feel as if I've entered the minds and set of a Golden Girls episode from the 1980's. Time to SERIOUSLY re think and up your game RCCL.
Fellow Guests - Good mix of all nationalities, although I assume mostly Spanish and then British. I like cruising with the Spanish, they have fun, join in and seem to really enjoy being with each other and in their family groups. I did not witness any anti social behaviour and would encourage everyone to mix and exchange pleasantries freely, as it was ALWAYS reciprocated.
Ships staff & crew - The higher up the management, the more disappointed I was. A severe lack of presence from the hotel director or any of the senior staff throughout the week. A video 'goodbye' at the farewell show typified this rather lazy attitude to mixing with the guests. The room attendants, bar staff and waiter staff were all excellent, with no exception.
Shore excursions - Average value for money, choose VERY carefully. The new flat screen tv's and in room booking system worked brilliantly, well done RCCL. I booked a shuttle to Malaga airport with the Guest Relations desk several days before our arrival. I was greeted with attitude and disdain when I queried the procedure and lack of ticket/voucher from the female desk officer. As it happened I DID need something to present to the coach/tour rep on departure, and felt bad for not chasing it up. Not what I would expect from their ship staff.
Fitness Centre - Great facility, well used, shame about the staff. No presence - at all! Guests were bare chested, on equipment in towels and swim wear, wearing flip flops and wedge style shoes, but nothing was ever said or monitored. Royal will only address this fleet wide problem when an incident and subsequent legal challenge occurs. Not good enough and just not SAFE.
Shopping - No surprises, no changes, usual product ranges, usual variety of tat. Watches are always a good purchase and they DO have a good range throughout the week. "Gold on a chain" really needs to GO, it dumbs down their guests and it dumbs down their branding. I wanted to buy several greetings card whilst on board, (Birthday, Anniversary etc) and no such product was offered. Surely they could make money and offer a range of cards to offer?
Crown & Anchor Club/Events. Attended two events, which is more than can be said of any of the onboard officers/staff. Absolutely no information or presentation about future cruise itineraries, fleet movements or ship building or enhancements. Hardly encouraging me to excite or book my next voyage! Complimentary drinks are always a pleasant enough reason to attend, and the dance exhibition/ice dancers q&a was a great touch. The second, higher tier event was simply a 'free drink' event. I've been to so many better within the company.
Royal Promenade - I did find myself sat there thinking, I could be in a shopping centre in Shepherd's Bush. I understand WHY it's there, the WOW factor and on board spend/revenue. But I'm over it now, and want a connection with the view, the ocean, the sky, and the weather, if I'm choosing to holiday onboard a cruise ship!
Disembarkation - Very quick and very efficient. Well done team Malaga. It was a shame the heavens opened and then caused a certain amount of panic and crowding due to everyone taking shelter from the rain.
In summary, a good holiday, but I'm tired of this size/class of ship. Royal are a great brand and I do enjoy them immensely, but in future with any choice I make, I will avoid booking Voyager class and above. My last cruise was onboard the Jewel from Harwich, a whole different atmosphere and ambiance, I recommend you all browse the entire fleet, and make your holiday choices - wisely.
Thank you Royal Caribbean, and Adventure of the Seas for a GOOD holiday experience.