This was our 3rd - the last 2 being with Thomson for 7n each and we thought we would try a longer period with another cruise line. This allowed a comparison.
RCI is very American. The arrival - transfer on was poor - 3k passengers meant that we did not get our bags for 5 hours (took longer than the flight and wait from UK. Lots and lots of queueing)
Ship and cabin- good and well appointed - cabin has two USA and one European socket. We had taken a kettle - for good medical reasons - but were warned that if it was seen, it would be confiscated if we did not hide it each day.
Booked anytime dining (with gratuities prepaid) but this was a myth. We were corralled into a 6pm slot - fortunately with a very good and interesting group that we got on well with. Meals arrived promptly and acceptable but we were not allowed no time to keep chatting as the tables were wanted for others. Wine and drink prices were outrageous at $80 -100/ bottle. We did not see wine bottles being ordered at the tables in the silver service restaurant -not surprising.
We were constantly being searched for liquid when re-boarding - not convinced that this was for security
We understood the reviewer who got over the wine issue by buying square cardboard packs. We can do without thankfully but did use the agreed on board spend. Even transfers into town were not covered on occasions.
Entertainment - conjurer was brilliant (best I have seen) as was the juggler/ comedian but the rest was poor - very low attendance - very different to Thomson as is the daytime entertainment. No talks and limited to quizes and very occasional deck activity. Casino is like Lss Vegas and not our scene.
We were constantly being told that "we were enjoying ourselves" -rather like a holiday camp I imagine? Fortunately we had booked 3 excursion through Cruisingexcursions.com and these were excellent as well as being cheaper than RCI. Highly recomended. Some RCI excursions were cancelled the night before leaving people stranded. Messina not on CC list and visit to archeological sites can be doine by train from in the town. Taxies - try bargaining away from the port - much cheaper. Our choice of cruise was because of the itinerary Majorca Malta, Messina Naples Rome and Florence and this was a good choice despite having been to most before.
Staff friendly but happy to push you out of the way to get on with their tasks
Comparison: Thompson's - Food, friendliness of staff and on board entertainment as well as the party/holiday atmosphere was better. RCI - Ship and cabin better
Because of the company we found, we enjoyed the holiday despite the constant money grabbing approach but would put RCI below Thomson which surprises me. So probably will not use them again -they are not tuned in to UK brits.