This was cruise #79 for me. So from a point of view of, NOT expecting perfection, which seems to be a priority for some people. I am fortunate to vacation frequently so this may play into the tolerance. :) This was my husband's preference for itinerary, as I get bored "silly" with too many sea days. :) We, now, take a TA every year, with the first about 25 years ago on the QE2. Highlight for me, was the return on the Concorde. :)
This cruise was booked during a sale with give away rates. TA's can be found to be an excellent vacation value. This particular one, had a Canary Island itinerary which we had not visited before. The St. Maartin port was the bonus for my husband, since his routine here is to park himself at the Sunset Bar all day. :)
We fly stand by, and the flight plans I made ended up being pure luck and were the last available I would have, to make the ship, due to Sandy. We left to fly into Madrid 6 days prior. Madrid is a wonderful tourist city which we enjoyed. We took a cheap AVE train to Malaga for another 3 nights. Drove to Gibralter for a wonderful day trip. Took a cab to the ship. Embarkment had a short line and was on board within an hour of leaving the hotel.
We were in a cheap inside cabin, which I didn't care where it was, as long as it was on the ship!!! Cabin Steward was extremely helpful with my wheelchair using husband. Always seemed to appear to open the door- out of nowhere. :)
We did the My Time dining last year, and didn't really find it had the "freedom" that we prefer, so we didn't use it this trip. The Windjammer food was OK, and something could always be found we liked. The hours were excellent with ease of getting something if coming back later from port activities. Overall- ALL lines have cut back on food options, so, in my opinion- it isn't reasonable to expect more.
Sea days had no problem finding seating in shade, which we prefer. They did have some shortages of puzzles. Enterainment was very good. We didn't go every night, but what we saw was very enjoyable with no problem with getting seats. Did again enjoy the ice show, with stand by seating.
We are Diamond so went to the Imperial lounge most nights. The two C&A cocktail parties were crowded but still a nice perk.
Cruise Critic's M&G was crowded with trouble for late arrivals finding seats. A lot of door prizes. The bonus was the special lunch RCI arranged with a superb menu and food.
This sailing was super smooth with excellent warm weather- unlike every prior westbound trip, for us in this timeframe. The Canary Islands were very enjoyed by us, each very different from the other, wonderful scenery. We were lucky to have hooked up with 3 tours arranged by Cruise Critic members.
The Caribbean is a so so destination for us. But my husband does like parking himself by the Princess Juliana Airport all day and watching the planes land, (retired A&P mechanic and prior private pilot). We didn't do much past the port areas in the other two ports.
We did self disembarkment and was off the ship at 7:30am with no waits in San Juan. Took a cab to the airport and had no problem standing by and getting on a 9:45am flight.
RCI again was very enjoyed by the two of us. Great service and a great ship. Excellent vacation value at the rock bottom prices.