Let's get all the basics out of the way. The ship is stunning in a "blingy" sort of way. The staff were excellent and the food, wherever we ate, was again excellent both in choice and quality. The interior stateroom was immaculate, very comfortable and served us well. Having said that, we couldn't understand why there were no sachets of coffee on the hospitality tray - thank heavens for the Spar shop in Vigo! Entertainment - stage and ice rink - was of the highest standard - probably the best we had ever experienced on a cruise ship. OK, so the drinks and the excursions were expensive but we knew that before we sailed - you can't go on P&O all the time!Chops Grille is worth every cent of the additional cover charge and is to be highly recommended for that "special occasion". The public areas, both indoor and outdoor, were kept immaculate. Got a bit rattled walking through the casino - a nightmarish scenario that you think you're never going to escape from!
The mix of passengers was interesting to say the least. In the middle was the silent majority who would fit in on most cruise lines. At one end of the spectrum were the hardened RC "regulars" who never missed an opportunity to tell you they were Platinum, diamond encrusted Crown and Anchor cruisers who had special lounges etc and generally behaved as if they owned the ship. At the other end of the spectrum - well let's just say pricing has opened cruising up to a new demographic who, in the past may have considered more UK based holidays. In fact, we found this social divide more pronounced than on Cunard ships with their "1st Class" restaurants and lounges. Having said that it provided excellent "people watching" opportunities! We still can't understand why they didn't have a tattooed lady competition......... Would we go on RC again? Most certainly, we've already booked for Adventure of the Seas to the fjords next year and are taking daughter, son in law and new grand daughter - and yes we know there isn't a nursery and there are limited baby changing facilities. Fore warned is fore armed. As a rule, we avoid negative reviews of ships - probably written by negative people. Most, if not all of the derogatory comments about IOTS we discovered were totally unfounded. You're on cruise, lighten up and enjoy it!
Just a comment on embarkation. Hideously long wait to get on ship because of "deep cleaning" and computer failures. I don't believe this is the norm. Not the best start to a holiday especially for first time cruisers.