We spent the night prior in a Fort Lauderdale hotel and hired a sedan service to take us to the cruise port. Embarkation was quite easy and rather quick. No lines to speak of when we arrived just before noon. Once boarding the ship we noticed immediately that it was quite worn in many places. A little disappointed that champagne and mimosas were not being handed out as a welcome but at the time didn't think much of it - we should have known it as an indication of the class level of this ship.
The first bad experience was the full court press to purchase their wine program immediately upon boarding. The waiters at this table were pushy and insistent and made one feel as though they would not get wine at all in the dining room unless you purchased the package. Personally, I like to pair my wine with my meal and how am I supposed to know what I want to eat three days from now? It felt like being on a tropical island where people chase you down to buy their trinkets of braid your hair.
We were able to go to our cabin at 1pm. I had read many things about the size of the RCCL cabins. We booked this little getaway just a few weeks in advance and could only get an inside to accommodate 3 people. I am not kidding when I say the sleeping area of this cabin is only a foot or 2 larger than the closet in my bedroom. I was able to unpack us (thankfully I packed light this trip) and get the luggage stowed out of the way. No safe! I have cruised on older ships before but never encountered one that had not been updated to include safes in the room.In one's cabin you will find a half dozen cans of various sodas and 2 bottles of water. We prefer to have a pitcher of fresh water in our cabin but since this was a short trip decided not to bother since we had problems on another line trying to fresh water. So we drank the bottled water - one problem - it was never replenished. Even in your most basic hotel, when you open or drink something from the mini bar housekeeping puts a new on in its place. Not on this ship.
Our dining table mates were lovely and we enjoyed their company. Our dining room service was very good and we got the best service ever from our maitre d', very attentive to us, getting Hannah shrimp cocktail when not on the menu, cutting her meat so I don't have to. On most cruises you only see the head waiters on tip night so this was a welcome change. The menu selections were substandard for us. The gala dinner left much to be desired (no lobster any night of the cruise) and for some reason, RCCL thinks it cute for the waitstaff to sing every night of your cruise. For me, if I want entertainment I will go to the show lounge.
Only went to one show and was pretty much underwhelmed. It wasn't horrible but just not wow.
Our trip had some not great weather (remnants of Gamma made it windy and quite cold in the Bahamas). Our excursion in Nassau was cancelled and we skipped CocoCay altogether. RCCL did refund our money for myself and my husband for our cancelled excursion in Nassau but not Hannah's for some reason and the line at the purser's desk wasn't worth the $16.Since the weather was so cold the pools were obviously chilly (we did have a good weather day in Key West however) but what was really disappointing was the temperature of the hot tubs (or "not tubs" as we began calling them). Not only did they not enforce the 16 year old age requirement in these tubs but the water wasn't even body temperature! Another problem with the pool area was the towel situation. Our first day at the pool we did not realize we were to bring the towels from our cabin (I thought they were for going ashore as on most cruise lines) and had to SIGN for towels to use at the pool. Like I would want to take home one of these towels! On most other cruises, the towels are already set out on the lounge chairs just waiting for you or there is a pick up and drop off point where you come and go as you please without having to be finger printed.
Dining in the Lido area offered good food but bad service. We always had a hard time finding a table because they did not seem like they were cleared of dirty dishes very often. Overall the service on this cruise was very very poor. The public restrooms were almost always dirty, with towels on the floor, water all over the sink etc. I never once saw anyone in these restrooms cleaning them, on other cruise lines there is an attendant for each public restroom to maintain it, etc. No one working on this ship seemed happy to be there, no one says hello to you or offers a smile. Usually on a cruise at any given moment someone is cleaning something but on this ship I never saw anyone - no one polishing the handrails on the stairways, no one vacuuming or cleaning the public areas, it was overall just a dirty uncared for ship.
The one saving grace was that Hannah enjoyed the children's program. She got a big kick out of Pirate Night and enjoyed the rock climbing wall
This was our first RCCL experience and more than likely our last. Their bigger, newer ships may be better but I am not sure we want to risk that kind of money to find out when we know other lines d it right on ALL their ships not just the 7 day trips.