This was my husband's last minute decision cruise ! and it was a great idea. Our first time with Royal Caribbean, a very good choice.
The ship is for about 2200 guests - and around 800 employees. I have to say they where all great ! Friendly, very good service, a wide variety of nationalities, which just makes it so International. Since I like to mix with different cultures, I had a great time talking and listening to all these different people (staff and guests). Brazilian, French, American, Canadian, Venezuelan, Philippines, Tunisian, Mauritian, and many more.
Our cabin was a large nice spacious ocean-view stateroom, but the bathrooms are rather small, specially the shower. If the shower curtain is not fully fitted, inside, you just flood the whole bathroom = which happened a couple of times after trying to bend down and wash my feet- i would inadvertently push the shower curtain outside the receptacle. As in other cruise lines we have taken, we only had a shampoo gel dispenser, no body lotion nor body gel.
Gladly I found the very nice, spacious sauna and steam room at the Spa (no extra cost) and had my shower there everyday, they are huge, spacious, with 2-1 shampoo, body gel and even a hairdryer.
Since it was a last minute cruise, and did not have time to get myself ready before hand, I decided to have a few things done on board at the spa.
I was amazed to see they did BOTOX, fillers and lots more. I decided to have the Dysport - a free consultation with a GREAT doctor (Young Peruvian Doctor) . He was very kind, gave excellent advice, took all the needed time to explain the different procedures, not pushy, and had great hands injecting the product- believe me I have done it before- and here there was no pain, no bruising and asked to come back the last day of my cruise for a check up and touch up if necessary. He made himself available between my shore excursions, or my last day heavy schedule. Just wonderful!! Very patient oriented.
I also had the microdermabrasion w/ oxygen, which is not like the (real?)one's I've had before, so I was a little disappointed, it was more like a facial with an airbrush. A bit pricey - get a normal facial instead. The Irish estheticienne, was very professional.
The fitness room with almost brand new and enough equipment for busy days, we used it every day.
Food and Beverages:
Food is good all around, not the best we've had on cruise ships but Not a lot of junk food, which is probably good if you cruise with kids that you want them to stay fit. And it was good for my husband too (no temptations).
We went to the Chop Grill restaurant (extra cost) which had great steaks - if a meat lover- it's well worth the price. Had a great Malbec bottle of wine with that.
The only buzz was that we did not get the desserts but preferred the Irish coffee instead (which seemed to be on the menu)- NOT good, no taste, no cream, not enough whisky, nor strong coffee ... we didn't drink it. Worst, they charged us for it.
We took a wine package and they do offer a wide variety of wines worldwide - mostly ''young'' wines from 2010. We were happy about our wine package.
They have a champagne bar, which we went for pre dinner drinks - we had a half bottle French champagne that came out stale -without bubbles - the Philippine barman tried talking us into believing it was like that! That he drank champagne everyday...I'm glad he did not insist and changed it. My husband, being French, was not very happy about this issue.
But they do have a service cart at the end of this bar (it's a bit hidden) - with plenty of Caviar like fish eggs, toasts, sour cream, soup, mini samoussas, mini dumplings, etc. That was a nice finding ! That became our meeting place with friends and went there every day.
I would suggest that they do offer expresso coffee at breakfast and dinner with no extra cost - especially if they want to keep the European guests.
They do have a good coffee at Cafe Latte-tudes, but then you have to buy your coffee then go to have breakfast at the Windjammer, the time you line up at the different stations ... your coffee is cold!
Activities / Excursions :
We didn't get a lot of information on shore excursions - you needed to watch them on TV in the cabin, which is ok, If you have time to watch ''in circles''the excursions.
They do have the info on paper, it seems they give it out at the beginning of the cruise, we didn't get it, so everyday we were going to the guest services desk, some particular days there are a lot of people waiting, so we would just give up and go excursionning by ourselves. We probably missed out some nice places to visit.
The St. John( Antigua) and Pointe a Pitre (Guadeloupe) ports of call were a bit uneasy as we had heard it was unsafe and we had no Online information on these places. and the language barrier in Guadeloupe = the only island we were visiting that didn't speak English nor had the same currency.
Finally, the Guadeloupe stop was particularly awesome - thanks to French guest we met on-board. They knew somebody living in Guadeloupe (this girl speaks French, Spanish and English fluently). She was SO helpful, she gave us information on where to go, all the different island activities, and even got us a last minute sea scooter excursion of 3 1/2 hours to a beautiful little island -or we could have done it on a speedboat- she even took into account the weather and sea conditions, which were great . We preferred the sea scooters (BTW our guide was a handsome very professional but very good looking guy).
We contacted her by Internet- email@example.com - I'd highly recommend her. We felt taken care of and special.
she explained clearly the Euros - dollars, what we were going to pay to the tour operator - where to go if we had extra free time, even where to eat excellent Creole French food. Do like the Guadeloupeans (sp?) do - she said. We were back on the ship, no hassles and felt really have taken advantage of what Guadeloupe has to offer -We might come back and stay a week. The only thing we missed was not having a girl like her in Antigua.
Our other best stop was Saint Kitts- we loved taking the taxi to chill out at Carambola beach.
Saint Martin, which we knew from other cruise ship stops is just hassle free. i'd recommend going to Orient bay beach - the excursion to the Waikiki on Orient bay was good.
Some of our friends stayed in Philipsburg - on the beach and shopping, it is the easiest of all islands for tourists.
The San Juan port of call was OK, but out French friends that got on in Guadeloupe , said it was a bit hectic for those already on board, as they had no more Internet on board, the pools are being cleaned, the spa is closed, so you just get off the ship, but there is nothing walking distance nearby. So for those embarking outside Porto Rico, be sure you get an excursion, taxi or a good book to read, they felt not taken care of.
For us flying in to San Juan, it was very easy to get on board and do all the paperwork , luggage and all cleared. we arrived around 3 pm. there were a lot of Porto Ricans already on board, and they are very festive ! they are loud and like to party, so start rehearsing your salsa dance steps !
Activities on board are well announced, the 2 times shows is just great idea, even though we missed a few... we were just too lazy. We laughed so much at the Colony club at the ''Quest'' by cruise director Paul from England. Do not miss it !
All the staff and employees are great, and friendly.
Special thanks to our head waitress Nicoleta and Andreea ( I think from Roumania) - great service , happy smiles.
We enjoyed this cruise very much. We felt the wide variety of culture and ages was well balanced .
We do want to try the bigger ships from RCCL.