This was my 19th cruise, but I have been on only two previous RCCL cruises and not since 2005. My favorite cruise line is NCL, but I will certainly cruise RCCL again.
I will not give many details, but instead general impressions. I believe that RCCL's weakest point, at least on this cruise, is the entertainment. Some of it was quite enjoyable including the dance party in the promenade and the comic/juggler on the last evening. Most of it is really dated and stale. I remember watching the ice show on the Voyager in 2005 and thinking it was absolutely wonderful. This time the ice show was really nothing special. After sailing on the NCL Epic with Blue Man Group and a Cirque show, it will take a lot more than what I witnessed on this cruise to wow me.
RCCL's strongest point is customer service. It was absolutely outstanding. Of course, with traditional dinner seating times, your wait staff can ask once what you like and remember it for the rest of the cruise, and they went out of their way to remember your names and that you like coffee after dinner. Our cabin attendant, Jimson, was wonderful. He learned that our my family members seemed to always be wondering where the others were, and he took to giving us reports on the comings and goings of the others if he had seen them. He even managed to bring my shy grandson out of his shell. When I had an issue with using the internet cafe, but was unable to report it to an attendant until two days later, I was given credit for all of my session on that evening without any argument.
There were a couple of issues that could be improved upon. RCCL, if you are reading this, please throw out your old badly stained pool towels instead of wrapping them up inside a better towel and handing them out again. Also, how hard would it be to have towel stations on the way out of the ship, instead of making passengers trek up to the pool deck to get them before exiting?
I was so looking forward to Labadee, but was a bit disappointed. It has been extremely built up since I was last there eight years ago, but almost anything worth doing costs a great deal of money. Swimming is very hard to do because of the painful rocks and shells under the water. With only one place to rent mats, the trek to your chair with a mat can be quite long. There are men on the beach who make you believe that they are RCCL staff and want to help you with your chair, but then they ask for a tip and you realize that they do not work for the cruise line. The area near Dragon's Breath was once quiet and secluded, but is now dominated by the zip line. While it looked like fun, and my grandson did enjoy it, the price of $92 is exorbitant for what it is. For almost that same cost a couple of years ago we went zip lining over the jungle in Belize and there were more than a dozen platforms going down a mountain. At the end we rappelled into a cave and then were served lunch on the way back.
On the way back into the ship, our bags were checked by security. My daughter had her cell phone in a bag that was identical to another woman's bag. Apparently security took things out of each bag and then placed them back into the wrong bags. Thank goodness the other woman noticed it, because she now had my daughter's cell phone. We stopped and sorted out our belongings.
On my last RCCL sailing in 2005, I found most of the food inedible, and I am not a picky eater. This time, I was pleasantly surprised. We ate in the main dining room for every dinner, and a couple of times for lunch. Breakfast was split between the buffet and the coffee shop on the promenade where you can get pastries and muffins. The food in the dining room was excellent. I now have a lapband and anything dry or tough can cause major problems for me. I was surprised that I could eat the seafood and even the chicken Marsala was so tender and moist I could eat it. The buffet food was as expected, without much variety. I did not see any omelet, pasta , or crepe stations as you would find on NCL. You cannot get your own coffee in the buffet, but instead it is served to you.
I loved the ship itself, especially the promenade, and was awed by its size until the Allure pulled up next to us in Jamaica and dwarfed our ship. OMG! It does not even look like a ship! It looks like a city perched on a large boat platform with a park in the center. It was so tall I could swear I saw clouds shrouding the two towers of cabins. That will be the next RCCL ship I sail on.