We are always amazed at the reviews we read, both positive and negative. Over the years, though, we have learned to discount the majority of the negative and focus on the positive. We are diamond members with Royal and have also taken several Carnival and Princess cruises; therefore, we definitely have a feel for what should happen and what should not.
In any case, we decided to book this cruise, even though we had read some rather disturbing negative reviews. Amid reviews of smelly cabins, non working plumbing and tasteless food, we boarded the ship with mixed feelings. In fact, right before we left, we read a review that said the worst smell was on deck 3. Imagine how we felt getting on the ship knowing our cabin was on deck 3! To our delight, we were pleasantly surprised. The only time we ever smelled anything wrong was when the ship was in port a couple of times. (I don't know if we were just lucky or what.)
Other than that, there was absolutely, positively no odor whatsoever. The most obnoxious thing we smelled was that of cigarette smoke on the smoking side of the ship.
This being said, we also have a strong opinion about the food that was presented. What in the world are people complaining about? There was an incredible selection, as always, presented in the Windjammer, the main dining room, and even a small selection of pizza available at Sorrentos. We didn't even do room service, so I can't comment on that. However, since none of us are anywhere near malnourished, we always have had no problem whatsoever finding something tasty to eat. Yes, it is true that compared to the voyager class ships, the Windjammer/Jade experienced is toned down, but strictly due to the size of the ship. The taste and quality is still there. And this does not matter whether you eat in the dining room or not. We preferred to eat in the Windjammer for dinner a couple of nights since the meal is not so drawn out. We even made it to breakfast in the main dining room (Vincent's) a couple of times and can honestly say that yes, it's nice to get an omelette cooked to order, but if we had to eat the in Windjammer the entire time for breakfast we would have been perfectly happy.
The embarkation process was pretty quick since we get to stand in the diamond/platinum line, which had only 1 person ahead of us. The longer line was getting through security. Once we got on the ship, we headed straight to our cabin, since we boarded after 2pm. Yes, our cabin was tiny with a window, but it was kept spotless every day and our ice bucket refilled 2x/day. There's plenty of space in the closet for a cruise of this size. And of course, even though we thought we packed next to nothing, we still didn't wear 1/2 of what we brought. For a cruise of only 4 days, the ship packs a ton of activities in, even one formal night on Tuesday (the 2nd night). There's no doubt about it that even for a shorter sailing, on a ship that was built in 1991, for what you pay and what you get, there is absolutely no better vacation value anywhere. Yes, the ship does show some wear and tear, but absolutely nothing to complain about. They've already started upgrading the doors, so that your sea pass card will be able to open the door.
Currently, when you check in, you are handed two cards, one to charge your purchases and another to unlock your cabin. Oh, there were no safes or refrigerators in the cabin, but we did use the safe deposit box on deck 4. The staff was so wonderful and warm as always.
The ports are nice and easy, and being from Los Angeles, we can see ourselves taking this cruise over and over. Oh, a must is the glass bottom boat tour in Catalina. It's very reasonably priced, and we saw tons and tons of fish. Thank you Royal Caribbean.