This was my first cruise, and I had absolutely no idea of what to expect. I booked the cruise for my sister and I to celebrate our birthdays. While my sister has cruised with Carnival a couple of times, I was a complete no0b to cruising.
All I can say is WOW... I can honestly say this was one of the best vacations I have taken. Everything from the ship in general, the room, the staff and our ports far exceeded my expectations.
We arrived at Port Canaveral at around 12:00p, with a sail time of 4:30p. We managed our way through security and checking in and was on board by a little before 1:00p. By 1:30p, our state room was ready and open. We checked it out and started to unpack our carry-ons. Luggage was delivered by 4:00p or so, just in time for the Muster Drill.
The weather at Port Canaveral was crazy cold and windy when we set sail. We went up to Decks 11 and 12 for the set sail party, but it was just too cold. This would plague our 1st day at sea as well. However, there was so much to do that it wasn't a huge problem.
The ship was immaculate and clean. You can tell that Royal Caribbean takes care of their fleet. In fact we had staff tell us that Royal updates their ships every 5 years. Not sure if this is the norm for other cruise lines but after the fiasco Carnival had a couple weeks ago, I would say not.
We were in stateroom 6328 which was a balcony room. We were close to the stairs and elevators which was convenient. The room was plenty spacious, the bathroom had ample room, and the balcony was a lot larger than I anticipated. I loved having the balcony, and being able to sit and watch the ship glide over the ocean.
Being on deck 6, we were one flight of stairs above our dining room (the dining room is on decks 3-5, and you're assigned a specific floor). Having to take the elevators up to decks 11 and 12 definitely took time. I wasn't able to find a bank of elevators that were never busy. I've seen complaints about the speed of the elevators. However, when you're moving over 4k people around, sometimes you'll just have to wait.
We ate in the Windjammer for lunch every day. This was definitely a busy place. However, there were lots of options, and the food was great. I was disappointed with the desserts though. None of them had any taste in my opinion. However that's just me. I did purchase the soda package, however that was a complete waste. I don't feel like I got my monies worth. They only had 6 Coca-Cola Free-style machines on board. This was pretty annoying. That, plus having to remember and carry around the tumbler they provided for the drink package was just a little too much. I could have survived on the water and lemonade options in the Windjammer and Dining Room. We did get a drink of the day every day ($6.75 and you get to keep the glass). Most were good, some were a little vodka heavy, but that's all good. I wasn't aware of an alcohol package (not beer or wine) until on board, but I'm still not sure if we would have gotten our money worth (much like the soda package). The good thing, I now have a set of Royal Caribbean hurricane glasses from the drink of the day - lol
The food in the dining room always impressed me (again, sans desserts). Our waiters were great (Bulent & Borche)! I had chosen the My Time dining thinking that I could choose the time I wanted to dine and would be seated at the same table or be served by the same staff every time. However, that's not the case. It's definitely more like a restaurant where you just make reservations and you will be seated where ever a table is available. Fortunately, we were able to make sure we had the same wait staff every night.
Apparently, the dress of people on the ship seems to be a sore subject. Quite honestly, I do not understand the dress requirements for the dining room. I especially do not understand the formal nights. I understand that some folks like to dress up, and that's fine. To each their own. I'm definitely not knocking it. For dinner, I wore khaki's and a polo, even on formal night. I feel like I'm on vacation and the last thing I want to do is get dressed up. We only ate in the main dining room for the 1st formal night. I didn't feel like dressing up for the 2nd one, so we went to the Windjammer. For the other nights, I felt that I was appropriately dressed (some folks were wearing jeans into the Main Dining Room).
The only true con I would say was not anything Royal Caribbean had any control over. It was the actual cruisers. I felt that people, in general, were rude. It may have been cultural due to the various places people were from. The friendliest group of cruisers I found were the folks that are members of Cruise Critic. Other than that, people would rush elevators when you were trying to get off, and then look at you like you were the crazy one. People would break in lines. People would complain for the sake of complaining. I even over heard folks complaining and discussing the food options I had made during lunch one day. This was really surprising to me, but I didn't let it interfere with my good time. As they say, hater's gonna hate.
As another reviewer wrote, on a scale of 1-10, I give this cruise a 14. I cannot say enough good things about the ship or staff. I can't wait to cruise again, and am already looking at booking my next trip. I definitely understand the cruising bug, and I have caught it.