Wonderful ship and crew! Embarkation was reasonably quick but a little awkward. The RCI rep.(Charise) who checked us in was either new or just not with it. Handed her our completed, printed "SetSail Pass" with signatures (including beverage waiver for our 20 year old) and without looking at them she asked if we would like to fill out a beverage waiver for BOTH our children. (the younger is only 17) On board everything was fresh, clean, and in generally good repair. The battery in our cabin safe was low so it would not lock. One call to the pursers desk and it was promptly fixed. Everything else was fine though. We sailed with a very full guest compliment, as is usual for a New Years Eve sailing. The crew had their hands full with all of those folks, but handled everything with applomb. The service was excellent in all areas except bar service. They tack on a 15% gratuity to every bar purchase. Therefore, the bar staff are not at all inclined to give good service or even be freindly. You order it, they shove it at ya along with a chit to sign (15%grat. included) The drinks were okay except for the margaritas. A lot of very sour mix with just a spliff of tequila . . .and by the way, that 15% gratuity! The staff of the Romeo & Juliet dining room exceeded our expectations greatly. From the food quality to it's presentation to the actual table service all was quite exceptional. The ports were great as well. Took the "4x4 Cayman Safari" in Georgetown, GC. Our guides were knowledgeable, freindly, and very funny as they showed us the Northsound area of Grand Cayman. No excursions taken in Costa Maya or Belize City. Just shopped and enjoyed the local flavor. Some of the people of Belize (outside the well watched shopping area) are a bit aggressive and think nothing of making remarks to the ladies that would be patenetly offensive in the US or UK. Made us feel a bit less than completely safe, but not in imminent danger either. We highly recommend the "Passion Island Beach Break" while in Cozumel. Although the little island was decimated by hurricane Wilma, the folks there have worked tremendously hard to clean up and get things back to normal. Alejandro (our guide) and the staff of drivers, cooks, servers, bar tenders, and the like all seemed to be ready to put the past behind and move forward in continuing to serve their guests. They did so with great enthusiasm and charm! Disembarkation was a breeze! After our tag color was called, we were off the ship, through Border Protection and Customs and out on the curb in 15 minutes flat!
All in all this was a wonderful cruise! If I may make one suggestion to RCI, please get rid of that God-awful margarita mix and give some thought to improving your bar service by having the staff actually WORK for their grautity. Personally, I am inclined to be more generous (usually 20%) when I am given the option and I receive good service. Having a mandatory gratuity tacked on my bill and receiving poor service (as I did on occasion this trip) leaves me a bit out of sorts. Now for those of you with small fry aboard. The midnite curfew is designed to enhance the experience of all guests INCLUDING your children by seeing they get proper rest! If you are unwilling or unable to enforce curfew on your children (and you know who you are) please consider your next vacation at Disney World or the like! I don't want to be sailing with your boorish, ill mannered offspring again.