I have sailed with Royal three times prior-- twice on the Majesty of the Seas and once on the Navigator. On the Navigator I booked a suite and because of this I entered the Gold Tier status faster than I would have if I had used another category of stateroom.
What I really liked-- upon entering the check-in process it was so nice to have a dedicated check-in line for Gold members as this really sped up the check-in process a lot. Literally, by the time I arrived, went through security, checked in and got on the ship it was about only 15 minutes.
The stateroom was very clean and my attendant Joyce as lovely. As a solo traveler I do not do the main dining room so she was able to adjust her cleaning of my room in the evenings. Normally they do this based on the main dining room schedule for the client, but as I only use the buffet, she made a notation and did my room when the buffet opened. As well, because I am not that dirty, LOL, I told her that all she needed to do in the evening was just lay the daily newspaper on my bed and collect any garbage in the container--nothing else. She obliged and that was quite thoughtful of her.
As a Gold member we got a little booklet of coupons, which was nice, but I suggested on my survey form afterwards that perhaps something a little more intimate, like a welcome back gathering would have been for me preferable to the coupons---but we all have different preferences for sure.
What surprised me this time around was that the prices of wine had gone up since my last cruise with Royal---actually quite significantly. That was a bit of a shock. Also, the quality of the food in the buffet did not match up to the other three cruises that I did. It wasn't bad (I am terrible cook so anything is better than mine) but after becoming used to a certain standard with RC, it seemed just a tad bit lower than what they provided before.
The last thing that was a surprise, and this is by no fault anything to do with RC, but if any of you decide to use Tampa be advised that the self assist disembarkation at that port is reserved for US citizens only. I have never had this issue in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, San Diego or New York so at first I thought it was a printing error. Upon further investigation with guest services on board, I was told that it was a US Customs request so RC's hands were tied on that regard.
However, the disembarkation was still very easy. A section of a dining room was set aside for the Gold Members, and I still took my own luggage off. What the RC staff did to their credit, was to have two lines, US citizens were able to walk off first and then the rest of us from other countries formed a second line. As soon as Customs gave them the clear, off we walked. It was very easy and I think due to the fact that RC's staff were able to get this all planned out to make it as easy as possible. Remember, it is to their benefit too as their are thousands of passengers that need to get off that boat and then within a few hours, thousands more coming on!
Lastly, and this is purely economical and related to the industry---not just RC. While boarding I overheard a couple ahead of me discussing how happy they were getting the same classification of stateroom that I had for literally 80% less! It appears that those who reside in Florida get extreme discounts just for living in that State. I am sure all cruise ships offer this in order to sail full but as a single traveler I always pay for two people even though I am alone and yet because I reside in Canada, there is never any reduction given to folks like me! I have long come to accept that a single traveler is probably the most discriminated against in the industry (some resorts will not even take a single even if one is going to pay for two) and for some all inclusive packages the single supplement is often the price of two as well---so over the years, I have slowly accepted that. But, to hear locals boast how they ended up paying 80% less for the same type of room that I was in simply because they lived there was a bit disheartening--more specific, they were quadruple upgraded. It will not stop me from cruising for sure, but I think as I get closer to retirement, I may invest my money in an actual condo somewhere South instead to get the best bang for my buck that way.
Would I use RC again? Absolutely and my other cruise for Feb is already booked via New Orleans with Navigator of the Seas again.