I dreamed about this cruise many months. We are not lifetime cruisers, but have sailed on Disney, Princess, and Celebrity before, so we do have several points with which to reference.
Embarkation---Slower than most--not awful.
Stateroom-- We had a balcony cabin just below the suite level, and it was a little larger than most in that category-nice. Cabin Steward quite good.
Service---For lack of a better word, it just stunk!!!!!! There was no welcoming from the crew on embarkation, which should have been a sign. Spent a great deal of time looking for staff to purchase a drink, etc. You could be on deck for hours, and never have someone approach you to ask if they could get you something. Since this is a prime source of revenue for them, it was not only a point of aggravation for us, but poor business thinking on their part. If you wanted a drink, etc. you definitely had to fetch for yourself. I purchased a soda package the first day out. (This is a good deal!), and it comes with a large tumbler you can keep and take with you to purchase your favorite soft drink. One afternoon I went to the Pool Bar, handed the bar tender my tumbler, showed my card with the pass on it, and asked for a coke. He remarked, "not until you take the top off the tumbler". We are not talking about an arthritic, old geezer who was trying to tend bar here. The only lounge where service was good was in the Schooner Bar. We made friends with a couple of the waiters, and they looked for us, and gave us excellent service.
The dining room at the main seating was another point of disgraceful service. The second night (formal night) we were conversing at dinner, and our friends couldn't tell a story, hard as they tried, for being interrupted by the waiter (not to serve us, just interrupt us). We had taken a picture of ourselves at the table (with the help of a fellow passenger) when a photographer arrived to do the same. We realize this is their job, however, this woman was so rude, I can't even begin to tell you. First, we asked for a picture of the four of us, which she quickly told us she simply would not do, that it was impossible??????? Then, she started moving everything around on our table, almost spilling a bottle of wine we had purchased, shoving us all the time---not telling us how to pose---shoving us!! Since the food also left much to be desired, we decided then and there we would not be in the dining room again.
We did make reservations in the two specialty restaurants Chops (steakhouse) which was very good with excellent service----also in Portofino's (Italian). I can't begin to tell you how good the food was and how superb the service was in there---so we knew it could be done!!!!! The rest of the cruise we ate in the Windjammer---I generally hate buffets, but there was a greater choice of better food, and it was much quieter in the evening than the dining room---still no service to speak of. It was also very frustrating if you're a non-smoker to find any lounge to sit and enjoy cocktails with your friends. First of all, it was a real challenge to find one open during the day or early evening outside the Schooner or Lobby Bar. We spent about 20 minutes one late afternoon trying to find an open bar---there simply wasn't one. When the Champagne bar finally opened, we took a seat to enjoy the ambiance (terrific view, etc). The ladies ordered champagne, but the guys wanted something other than champagne, which we were told was "impossible". We spent many evenings aboard other cruise ships in their champagne bars, and was served any drink we could imagine.
We visited the Colony Club after dinner one evening--it was breathtakingly well done in beautiful wood paneling, aesthetically pleasing, and we took a seat, excited to find a place to spend a few minutes. Immediately after sitting down, we quickly found we couldn't stay there, due to the heavy cigarette and cigar smoking. It was absolutely choking as people began to file in and light up. We had to leave, regretfully. The Hollywood Odyssey up near the top deck was another beautiful place, but when we got there we were told it was a cigar bar.
Our destination was the saving grace. Even Royal Caribbean couldn't screw up Hawaii. Every island was breathtaking, and we were able to spend 2 days in Maui,which made the trip so memorable in a great way. To the captains's credit, we were able to witness an erupting volcano after leaving Kona to start across the Pacific. It was 10:30 pm, and he announced we would be sailing as close as he could so we could witness this eruption and fabulous show by Mother Nature of laving running down the mountainside into the ocean. Spectacular, National Geographic couldn't have done it better!!!
The straw the broke the camel's back was disembarkation. We docked at Ensenada, Mexico, and were to be taken to the San Diego airport to fly home. We put our color coded tags on our luggage the night before so they could be loaded on the appropriate buses, and checked in as instructed. Upon arriving, we were told we were not on the manifest for that bus, even though we had those bag tags, and to add insult to injury, were told we couldn't get on the bus where our luggage was undoubtedly had been loaded. The took us down to another lounge, and we were put on the "correct bus". I was told our luggage would be at the Delta counter in San Diego at the airport, and it was not a problem----right!!! So, of course, upon arriving nobody at Delta or anywhere else knew anything about our luggage. The bus driver refused to call on his radio to find out if our bus had arrived as yet, and where. I called the 800 number for Royal Caribbean Lost Luggage, and was told they would file a report and call me back in a couple of days. Desperate, we started walking in front of the terminals (several) and spotted one piece on the sidewalk by itself a quarter of a mile down the way. We continued and walked about another half mile to another terminal building, and found the other two pieces, again on the sidewalk, where they were obviously "thrown from the bus". This was Saturday---I received a call from Royal Caribbean the next Thursday, saying they couldn't locate my luggage. I took this opportunity to let them know they would never be bothered by us again.