that stood out this time. Unfortunately, not always in a good way. This was our second EN cruise(same cabin). Embarkation was as smooth and painless as I remembered it, and we were literally the first people on board. arrived about 1030, were boarding by 1130. this was her second cruise post refurbishment and while overall the improvements made for a nicer venue, there are some issues.
First: the new Centrum is GORGEOUS and has a much better layout.
Second: the new full OV rooms on decks 7 and 8 are now fully functional. however, they built a privacy wall and as such the hallway by the elevators feels very claustrophobic.
Third: Park Cafe: terrific, with caveat. it totally destroyed any semblance of the Solarium being Kid free as entire families would camp out there for lunch. But the new food options I though were much improved over the old, sad basics that were there before. yes, the Roast beef on kemmelwick roll is as good as everyone raves about.
Fourth: the new Diamond and Concierge Lounges are amazing, with plenty of room and comfy chairs.
Upon first arriving to our cabin, it was stifling..as in roasting hot. the A/c was not functioning. we dropped off our carry ons, and went to do our duty at the Muster drill. went back to change for dinner, but still no sign of our luggage in the hall. minor panic, until Reynaldo appeared and informed us he had already brought them inside. He was attentive all week, and we lacked for nothing. Before we could say anything, he informed us he had already called maintenance about the A/c. After dinner it was less stifling, and the entire thermostat was changed the next morning while we were at breakfast.
despite it being Baltimore in December, Muster was held outside. Thankfully, there were few stragglers and it was cut a little short and we only suffered for a few minutes. Sailaway was in the Viking Crown, a perennial favorite place to be. the new Giant TV on the pool deck was easily visible, although there was no sound.
New menus; better than I had expected, as frankly I was a little leery about the changes I had seen. but a HUGE problem was the menus listed on the touch screen bore little resemblance to what was served that day. Also, Formal night was moved to the 24th, as opposed to the first sea day. Port Canaveral day. as such the menu choices did not reflect the atmosphere( not that many people bothered). the NYS strip one evening was poorly cooked and very disappointing, but was the only truly terrible meal all week. the duck was incredible and the prime rib both nights was impeccable each time. Hubby scarfed down as much of the seafood entrees and appetizers as he could and never left an empty plate.
Entertainment: the new arial show for the Centrum was not ready due to there not being enough time to install the safety gear. the comic on the opening night was funny, but his 'adult' show the next night left us flat. the production shows were okay at best. I didn't see the need to have 6 different singers to each sing a line. College Bowl games were shown fairly frequently on the Big screen as well as Boleros. In room options sucked. the same three movies all day every day, and half the time were not in American. 6 channels showed the same expose's on Charlie Sheen and Heidi Klum..in 6 different languages, with and without subtitles. Hubby went to trivia several times and was mildly entertained.
KIds: 800 on board. and yes you knew it. elevator buttons all pushed: check. Pre teen and teen boys running around like hellions in the halls: check. Teens camped out on stairs giving you dirty looks if you told them to get out of your way: check. I let a few things slide as it was a holiday cruise with many large family groups, but there were limits.. to passenger and crew tolerance levels alike. due to the cold on most of the sea days, the Solarium was opened up to kids from 12-2 and again form 4-6.. although there was little enforcement in between, Public Service announcement: no your walkie talkies do NOT work on board and after the fifth time shouting "Hello" into the speaker it gets annoying.
Crew: as usual, friendly and eager to please. Reyno the Concierge was battling the last remnants of the Flu, and the Captain and Food and bev manager succumbed as well as our assistant waiter. not too many passengers though. they all blamed the recent dry dock.
Ports: basically, a waste. mostly because of the dates. Port Canaveral Xmas eve. did a ship excursion and did get to see dolphins and tons of birds( and manatee noses). Nassau was Xmas day and 98% of the island was shut down. since our ship's excursion tour guide NEVER SHOWED, we were apologized to profusely and had OBC for the amount paid on our folio before the end of the day. the Officer in charge also promised he'd never use that operator again. CoCo Cay.. again, a waste to us as all there is to do is beach stuff and that's about it. the BBQ( basically, the only option for lunch) was decent but that's all we did.
Overall, I don't think I'd do a Christmas cruise again, but even the little things that had slipped from the last time we were aboard will not keep us from continuing to sail with Royal.