This was our second cruise with RCI and after this experience I would certainly sail with them again. Although we booked with a local agent the several phone calls that I did make to RCI were handled very professional and were very informative. This was the first time we traveled with our children (ages 13 and 9).
Upon our arrival at the pier I found it to be extremely clean and the baggage handlers helpful. Having ten bags to check the tip we gave them surely helped. (For the record I did not have any control over the packing). The check in process started off slowly with two security guards at the front door not moving things along. RCI should consider some type of rope system to keep line jumpers from starting off this experience poorly. Inside the terminal was very clean and we made it through security quickly. The initial lines upstairs were a bit confusing but after figuring out you had to cross over one line to get checked in before you actually proceeded to the ship it all worked out well. Total check in time less than 15 minutes...I give it an A rating.
Although we were on deck three we really did not hear any noise or have any issues being so close to the bottom of the ship. Our cabin steward was not overly impressive. Disado also kept the room clean and we always had clean towels. After a couple nights we finally had the towel animals we had grown accustom to previously. He was however not overly friendly. Whenever you asked for anything he made you seem like you were asking for the world. He even argued with me after I only received three luggage tags when I needed nine. His tip reflected my displeasure. Maybe next time the stewards higher up on the ship will be nicer.
The dining in Windjammer was very good. We loved the selections and the service was good. Some of the servers were very good. The food preparation was always hot and if you couldn't find something that you liked...that was your problem for sure. We had the pleasure of eating in the Rhapsody in Blue Dining Room. We sat at table 345 which was near the kitchen. Although at first this didn't excite us we were blessed with awesome servers. Zaldy (enjoy your two months off) who was our head waiter and Nicole was our assistant waiter, were TOP NOTCH! (There tips reflected the awesome service) Also David (one of the triplets) who was serving our adult beverages was wonderful. Sitting so close to the kitchen you could see that there was some tension within the wait staff. On the fourth night one assistant waiter that was heading into the kitchen with a tray of dishes. Another waiter walked up behind him pushed the tray over causing everything to hit the ground. The waiter walked away laughing at the assistant. Seeing the entire thing I brought it to the attention of the Assistant Head Waiter. He proceeded to insult me on two occasions during our conversation. He completely blew the situation off and told me I didn't know what I was talking about. I made several calls about his actions and were presented with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries for the insults. Oh and by the way HIS TIP REFLECTED HIS SERVICE!!!!! I do wish RCI would make a decision on appropriate dress in the dining room. I required my children to dress according to the standards they set. However, there were many adults wearing tank tops, shorts, jeans etc..., in the main dining room. Either change your policy or enforce your rules.
The shows were absolutely outstanding. Kirk the Cruise Director was outstanding and so was his entire staff. The comedians were not the best, but still ok. If you are on this ship and miss: The Qwest, the ice show, the love and marriage game show or any other performance it would be a great loss. Kirk anyone that says you insulted the oriental couple during the love and marriage game show is dead wrong. You were having fun and so were they. Don't change anything you are doing.
The kid's activities were well planned and organized. During one visit I was very pleased to see one of the supervisors sitting all the kids down and discussing how treating others appropriately was required or he would proceed to contact each of their parents. This was after numerous kids were picking on another child and made her cry. I commend you for your actions.
The Fuel club was a bit scary at night. The teens wearing their tilted hats like "gang-bangers" and their obnoxious ways was a bit much for my son, who elected to do other things in the evening. I can't blame him because the crowd on this cruise was rough. Maybe they should establish a dress code in here.
I must add one other note. I had the unfortunate pleasure of visiting the emergency room on the ship. Suffering from a severe kidney stone attack while docked in the Grand Caymans, I was treated by the onboard physician and nursing staff. I was treated quickly and efficiently by all. The facilities appeared to be state of the art and they all had good bed side manners. The only bad thing about this is that they do not accept any form of insurance. Instead they were kind enough to charge my Sea Pass Card. Obviously that was not a hit I was looking forward to seeing on my account. You would think a company as large as RCI could bill insurance companies.
Leaving the ship went ok. Phil our luggage handler took very good care of us until we got out to the curb. We were then greeted by the great employees of Art's Shuttle service who transported us to the airport.
I must also say I was extremely excited to meet so many people from the cruise critic thread in person. I will be back with RCI again in the future.