My husband and I went on the 4 night cruise 2/13-2/17/06. This is our 4th cruise but the first time with RCL. Overall we enjoyed the cruise very much and would recommend it to our friends.
We embarked at Los Angeles World Cruise ship Terminal around 1:30 p.m. Checking in was fast and we were in the ship within 10 minutes. We already had lunch so we didn't go for the buffet. We went directly to our cabin and was amazed to see such a small cabin (inside). Unlike other cruise line (Holland America & NCL) there is no safe nor fridge in the cabin. We didn't bother with the safety deposit box at the reception since there's usually a lineup there. It's probably not very convenient to get passport or other valuables from there everyday. We opted to carry them with us.
One thing I was rather surprised that the ship is not equipped with hand washing stations anywhere. Both Holland America and NCL have hand sanitizing stations everywhere (gym, dining room, entrance/exit of the ship, etc.) I think they should improve on that since germs can spread given the fact that the cruise is full of passengers.
Food: The food in the ship is great to my liking. We enjoyed everything that we had. The dining room served tasty food in good size portion and nice presentation. We only spent the first night there since we were surprised that we have to share a table of four with another couple. We wish they would give us a choice whether we want to social or not. Since then we have been dining at the Windjammer buffet and found that they also served very similar food as in the dining room.
Ports of call: We went on the Old Town Trolley tour in San Diego (on ship excursion costs $28 whereas the booth costs $30). The tour was interesting and took 2 hours. Since we left the ship late we only have time to take the complete tour once without making any stops. If we have planned to get on and off we should have left the ship maybe around 9:30 a.m. or so. Overall the tour was fun and the tour guide/driver was pleasant. The next day we went to Catalina Island. It was the worst day in terms of transportation. We have to wait for tender. They only have one boat instead of two which caused terrible delay to and from the island. Leaving the ship was about one hour instead of 1/2 hour wait but coming back was 1 1/2 hour delay. The standing in line was not bad if it weren't for the strong wind. We were freezing and had to buy hot drinks nearby to keep warmth. However, the island itself was nice for strolling and shopping. RCL should have done something about finding more boats for tender given the fact that the weather was cold and windy and most people were not dressed for that. The last day was Ensenada, Mexico. We took a walk around the port but was not impressed. There were lots of shops but nothing was of interest to me. The duty free store has limited selection and the price were not that good. We spent at most two hours and went back to the ship. We didn't take the shuttle because it was only a 7 to 10 minute walk although most people did take the shuttle for $3 round trip. We liked the exercise but it's probably not good to walk alone.
There is a midnight dessert buffet on the second night. It was very extravagant. We went to take some photos but was too full to have anything except some chocolate covered strawberries. The food in the ship is always plentiful. They would continuously refill the buffet whether it be breakfast, lunch or dinner. The quality of food was always fresh and tasty and there's always fresh fruits. There is almost food around the clock--at the buffet, the pizzeria etc.
The tipping system is voluntarily. Unlike the other cruise line they don't automatically add the gratuity to your bill. You can request for the vouchers to be sent to you so you could put them into envelopes and give to the waiters, room attendants personally.
The disembarking process was OK since I can carry my own luggage and could leave when I was ready. Overall I consider this cruise very enjoyable and would cruise with RCL again but I would choose an outside cabin next time for more space.