This, our second cruise, reinforced why we choose both cruising as a vacation genre and why Royal Carib is our line of choice. With only a few slips cast and crew performed flawlessly.
Embarking was easy. We had the required documents in hand and were aboard within 20 minutes of leaving the hotel shuttle. On glitch - the guy who "guarded" the roped-off entry into the terminal was a jerk, plain and simple.
Although the cabins were not yet available, our pain was eased with two tasty rum drinks, a great view of the Kennedy Space Center and a place to sit and read. The cabin itself was perfect for us, with only the minor annoyance of a safe with numbers that did not work. Spoiled from our first venture, we spent the money for a balcony and never regretted it. Morning coffee, a glorious afternoon with Kindles - even the two AM star gazing all facilitated by a private retreat.
Food - fine to exceptional. Windjammer buffet fare was often ordinary, occasionally excellent. Enough options existed that I never left hungry, or disappointed. Of course there is an extra charge for some things - fresh-squeezed OJ, for example. Okay, so we made due with other beverages. The Main dining room fare was excellent, sometimes really, really good. Rare dishes did not meet the standard and were quickly replaced. Our waiter Rajesh and his capable assistant Vincent went out of their way to make us feel welcomed. Our one learning experience - specialty restaurant Chops was not worth the additional cost. Nothing there was any better than the main dining room and we missed our friends.
Service - always above our expectations, with one exception. Do the towel guys have to look suspiciously at everyone, as though they are accessory to grand theft? Otherwise a friendly smile, a cheerful greeting and "what can I do to make your day better" was uniform.
The Boat - easy to navigate, sturdy and clean. The captain was a hoot and a great time manager beside. When he said the boat left at 6:30 PM he wasn't joking. In his words "If you are still ashore and you hear three short blasts of the whistle, you can stop running." Little things seemed wrong, and there was construction on the promenade (kind of weird to hear circular saws and Christmas music juxtaposed). We never got lost, never needed something but couldn't find it.
Shore Excursions - Labadee was a nice break. Went horseback riding in Jamaica, snorkeling in Grand Cayman and Salsa making in Cozumel ("Salsa, Salsa and Margarita" in Cozumel is a must see). The horseback riding was especially fun, and we felt safe with the animals we were given. Dunns River Falls - okay, we've done it, we don;t have to repeat. Oh - in our minds the reputation for hard sell in Jamaica is undeserved. Those guys got nothing on the hard-driving merchants one wades through in other ports.
Debarking - do the valet! For twenty bucks a piece we set our luggage outside our cabin on Saturday night and collected it in the baggage carousel at Denver International Sunday evening. It took us ten minutes to go from our cabin to our shuttle bus. One question.... Does US Customs choose their least personable, most dyspeptic agents for cruise terminals?
Overall - Royal Caribbean hit another home run.