This was my ninth cruise, third on RCCL. It was a celebration of my son's graduation (Masters) -- he is 25 and this was his first cruise. I booked it through the RCCL website and chose a "guaranteed inside" category. Was surprised to find a roomy inside cabin on deck 9. Not fancy, but adequate for our needs.
POSITIVES -- The service was superb in all aspects. Our waiter was the best of any cruise I have been on. Rarely saw the cabin steward, but the cabin was always clean. Service in the lounges and cafeteria were good, too. The food was good, nothing outstanding, but consistently good. Celebrity is better. HAL is worse. NCL is not worth eating. Variety was okay, but I would have liked more choices most evenings. The ship was very clean and well maintained. The crew members were, almost universally, both polite and friendly. Embarkation was a breeze, and the mechanics of most port calls worked smoothly. Getting off the ship was a hassle, but not RCCL's fault. We stood in line well over an hour to get through immigration in Miami.
Although I was generally disappointed in the quality of the singers and dancers (especially the singers), the highlight of the week was a show from Las Vegas by SPECTRUM. A whole evening of top notch R&B and Motown hits by very talented singers. Close your eyes and you would think you were listening to original recordings. First on-board concert I have been to where they got four standing ovations during the show!
NEGATIVES -- This was my first sailing on such a large ship. Would I do it again? Doubtful. Too many people. Lines too long. Too far to walk to get to a stairway (only TWO stairways for such a big ship). Forget about the elevators. Took forever and they were usually packed when they stopped on your level. I really didn't care much for the Royal Promenade, and I certainly did not like it for the venue of the Captain's Welcome Aboard party. Too crowded. No place to sit. If I want that, I'll go to the state fair!
Their "library" was a joke. Not only did it have traffic going through it in two directions (between the elevators and to get to a set of staterooms), but the ceiling was open to the deck above where the kids in the Internet were loud all day and all night!
Although they had a "screening room" to show movies, they rarely showed one and didn't advertise it when they did. Of course, you can purchase "pay per view" movies in your room for $12 a pop, but I can do that at home on a much better TV with surround sound.
I was disappointed in the Ship Shape crew on this ship. On previous RCCL voyages my wife and I have enjoyed the organized activities. Here no one showed up TWICE for the "Walk a Mile" advertised in the daily planner. Most group activities started late and overlapped other activities.
We only took one excursion trip, the St. John Beach Tour. I felt like a victim of "Bait 'N Switch". I purchased it on their website before sailing. The description of the tour on the website differs considerably from the description in the materials on board (and there are no refunds). Neither description came close to the experience -- 1 hr. to get to St. John, a madhouse ride in an open air vehicle to get to the beach, 1.5 hours on the same beach, and another madhouse ride back. Forget about the "scenic overlooks". We couldn't even get out of the vehicle. I had to lean out and hope my pictures turned out well (they did not). And the P.A. system plus the heavy accent meant those of us in the back could not understand a word the "tour guide" said!
Overall it was a good cruise. I like the relaxed atmosphere on an RCCL cruise. I pretty much know what to expect. But I think I will opt for one of their smaller ships next time.