My wife and I have cruised 14 times, with the last 3 on RCCL ships out of Cape Liberty, NJ.
Embarkation was fine; the access to cape liberty is very simple even with 3100 other very excited passengers. We were on the ship very quickly; our luggage was at our doors within 2 hours. I needed 2 rooms because there are 5 members of my family. We had an outside balcony and an inside directly across from us for out 2 older children.
We had been on the voyager 2 times, thus explorer was virtually the same ship, less decor.
It seems that RCCL quality has really taken a nose-dive here. Food was poor, tasteless, rushed. We used the late seating for dinner, and only used the formal dining room for dinner. Our waitress was more concerned with telling us about just how hard she had to work, all the RCCL hardships she had to endure, while holding out a picture of her 20 months old. Well, after a few days of this, i-we got to the point that we just wanted her to go away.
San Juan, don't bother getting off the ship. We had been there 5 times, same old dirty city. The lucky part is that we were there for only a few hours.
St. Thomas, love it. Left my wallet there!!! Our jeweler picked us up at the pier. Upgraded wife's wedding ring. Ouch.
St Maarten, loved it. Orient beach on the French side. I will go back there next year.
Labadee/Haiti, nice place, completely run by RCCL. Big fence to keep the locals out. Very pretty.
Room service was greatly improved. We used this only for morning coffee, continental breakfast. Ordered it with overnight room service door tags. They would call as it was coming, always early or on time.
Public rest rooms were a mess. Early or late they were dirty. There were always dirty paper towels, empty drink cups etc on the floors. Maybe they should consider rest room attendants.
It seems that besides the staff, people working in the shops, pursers desk etc., the crew, wait staff, room attendants, etc. have become very Americanized. It used to be that they would go out of the way to be friendly, helpful etc. Now it seems that they expect more $ each time beside the 15% automatic gratuity.
The only major issue that I have is this:
On the last night of the cruise when RCCL distributes all purchased alcohol, it is their practice to drop off the boxes to each room without having it signed for. Being that there are many children onboard, many teens feel that they have the chance to steal bottles and experiment.
The teen club was closed early that night because of excess numbers of drunken children on board!!!!! The issue is that the Optix teen club is where parents are not allowed. This is a crew chaperoned area that is for teens only. What happened? I wish I knew. My wife and I found our 15-year old daughter in her room with 3 other girls. She had been brought there to vomit. She continued to vomit for 4 hours. She also continued this for the 3 hour ride home. Granted, it was a matter of time for the teen experimentation, but we placed our faith in RCCL for the safety of our kids in the teens-only Optix program. This is wrong.
Our 16-year old son also told us of another male teen that had his stomach pumped in the med facility onboard that night.
At this time our cruise with RCCL went from a very acceptable fun time to a horrific mess.