This was our second TA, and we chose RCL because of the price and itinerary. The value was unbeatable and we enjoyed every aspect of the experience. The seas were so calm and each day was incredible. This cruise presented a great mix of ports and sea days and 5 of the 8 ports were new to us. Although the AoS is beginning to show her age, she was well cared for and the crew works hard to maintain a high standard. There were a few ( less than 30) cases of norovirus while we were on board, but this was handled efficiently and well. We took the recommended precaution of using the hand washes stationed throughout the ship, and making sure to wash hands thoroughly after each washroom trip. Such simple steps to prevent a miserable experience.
Both the embarkation in Malaga and the disembarkation in San Juan were smooth and efficient. As Gold members, we waited very comfortably in the Mozart dining room in San Juan and were able to have coffee, tea, juice and pastries while waiting. The embarkation and security check at the terminal in Malaga was quick and easy. Baggage was delivered and picked up with no problems encountered.
We used the main dining room for all breakfasts and for lunches on sea days. The wait for tables was short and the service was very good. Menu choices were more than adequate. I went to the cereal and fruit buffet each morning and chose the salad buffet at lunch time. There was always a great array of choices and I always left the room perfectly full and satisfied. We went to the Windjammer for lunch after shore excursions and found the choices and service there very satisfying as well. Our late dining each night was the perfect choice for us and our waiter and assistant were superb. The meals were always well prepared and excellently presented. The absolute best meal of the entire cruise was the special lunch for Cruise Critic members. The menu choices were varied and I had the best Chilean sea bass ever! My husband also raved about his seafood medley and other table mates were more than pleased with their filets. Appetizers and desserts were equally as good.
We bought a Gold wine package and were happy with the choices. RCL had a few surprises in store with being able to purchase wine at the dutyfree store in Malaga and then allowing that wine to be brought on board for the cruise. Unfortunately, we did not know about this until sailing time and therefore were unable to take advantage of it. If they change the rules, it would be beneficial to let the passengers benefit from the changes with a notice e-mailed to each passenger.
We have cruised many times on the mainstream cruise lines and have almost always enjoyed the entertainment. This cruise the entertainment was varied and excellent. I would classify the Beatles tribute, the Forever show and the ice show as superb! As second seating guests we almost always had our show at 7 pm and I was surprised at the number of empty seats in the Lyric theatre.
We booked a Promenade stateroom and were very comfortable there. It was kept in great order by a very efficient steward. This was a good choice as we paid for an inside cabin, but had a view to the Promenade which let in a fair amount of light.
While it seemed difficult to locate deck chairs on some sea days, it was still possible to locate some if you wanted to be either in shade or away from the excitement which we do prefer.
This was a very enjoyable cruise following a 2 week land trip in Spain. My only complaints are with the long wait( over 75 minutes ) to comply with US Immigration, and the lack of ports for the TA cruises in the next year. We find we will have to return to either Princess or HAL to find what we want next fall. However, kudos RCL and the entire staff of AoS for an extremely relaxing time.