My wife and I are experienced cruisers (Diamond level with Royal Caribbean). We decided to take a quick 7 day Western Caribbean cruise for the sole purpose of experiencing the largest cruise ship on the ocean. We had been to all three ports before so the ship was the real destination. It certainly did not disappoint us either! I did read a number of reviews of the ship and the cruise to get a feel for what to expect before we left. Some of the observations in the reviews I read proved to be accurate but others were simply not on point.
We both found the ship to be as advertised. . . BIG!! Lots and lots of things to do and see and the ship certainly met our expectations. It really didn't take too long to get a feel for the ship (I have a good sense of direction, so that helps). Also, the touch screens with ship maps, activities and somewhat accurate information of seating availability at the various restaurants was great and something that really helped enhance the cruise experience (available at the end of each elevator bay). The two things that really proved accurate from reading the reviews before we left were the Windjammer and the the storage space in our cabin. The general consensus, which I agree was accurate, is that for what ever reason, the Windjammer is simply too small for the size of the ship. I can see that RCI might have thought with all the dining options available on board that it could make the Windjammer just another option but it seems like those of us who like to sail on RCI ships, view the Windjammer as one of the essential eating options. The good news is that as the week went by, the crowds got less of an issue but in the beginning (especially the first afternoon lunch) it was a zoo. To their credit, the staff kept mentioning all the dining options, and there are LOTS of them available, to get folks to "spread out". We used Johnny Rockets for breakfast a couple of times (free of charge) and were seated easily while the WJ showed as crowded on the touch screens. The other "negative", and I use that term loosely as it really didn't impact us greatly, was the lack of storage in our cabin. I missed the little nooks and crannies we found on both the Voyager Class and Radiance Class we have sailed on, as well as the way the closet faced the passage way in front of the bathroom. In our cabin (D-1 Balcony) it faced the balcony and was two feet from the side of the bed so not as convenient as facing out to the walkway. The cabin just seemed a little more cramped than we have experienced on other ships, even if the square footage was the same. The flat screen TV certainly helps and the interactive message system was also very helpful and nice to have. Again, this was not a big issue but I found the reviews on the cabins accurate.
We both found the food to be outstanding (unlike some of the reviews). The service we experienced from all the staff was also top notch (again, unlike some of the reviews). I would recommend that if you have not sailed on this class of ship before that you make your reservations for entertainment as early as possible (this is VERY different than we have ever experienced on other ships) as you need to have made a reservation to be guaranteed a seat. We enjoyed the entertainment (we missed "Hairspray" due to an actor's illness and a reschedule of the show to a time we couldn't make) in all the venues, the water show in the outdoor theater, the comedy club (yes, they have a small dedicated comedy club which looks and acts like a stand up club on shore and you really need to reserve space EARLY), the Ice Show, and the main theater. They did a very unique show with the RCI singers and dancers that was quite enjoyable with lots of moving scenery and flying performers all over the theater. (We got a behind the scenes" tour of the theater the morning of the show that was both quite interesting and impressive. The sophistication of the stage and its equipment rivals anything on Broadway).
The Royal Promenade is quite a sight. It really seems like a large indoor shopping mall with great set decorations. The one improvement that I noticed over other ships, other than the size, was that they have two massive skylights that bring natural light in from the the "Central Park" neighborhood which is literally three decks above the Promenade.
One observation about the "neighborhoods". Both Central Park and the Boardwalk have rooms with balconies which open out over both Central Park and the Boardwalk. At no time did we see cruisers using these balconies. Both my wife and I felt that they were too "public" in that they were visible from the deck as well as from across the somewhat narrower space of both Central Park and the Boardwalk. We really like looking out at the ocean from our balcony and just couldn't see much reason to get one of the inward facing balcony rooms in either of these "neighborhoods" (the pricing seems to be similar to that for a balcony facing the ocean).
We really enjoyed experiencing the ship on our cruise and may go back if the ships are moved to other itineraries other than the Caribbean (We've been there now 6 times). However, for me, I still think that the Radiance Class ships have the best mix of space, amenities and intimacy. However, there is nothing we experienced that would dissuade me from trying Oasis or Allure again.