This is our twelfth cruise but first time I have decided to be a reviewer. Time to give back for all the help that other cruisers have provided me. Most of our cruises have been over our kids spring break or Thanksgiving. No exception with this one. Arrived on a direct flight from Los Angeles the night before. We got in around 10pm and went straight to our hotel by taxi. Stayed at the Tropi Rock Resort. Super clean, decorated nicely, with comfy beds, good a/c and easy on the wallet. Walked to a pizzeria called Primanti Brothers for for a late night dinner.
Embarkation : Still on California time, woke up around 11 and went straight to the pier. Check in was fast, I guess a little faster for us because we are now platinum and moved ahead on a line or two. There was a lot of this on the cruise based on your room status and membership level. It reminded me of Las Vegas. RCI saved several rows of seats in the ice show for suite guest. Seriously... show up on time like everyone who made a reservation months in advance.
Entertainment: The shows were the best we've ever seen in 12 cruises. I didn't like having to book them in advance but I do understand why RCI does that. Zip line was fun, didn't make it to the rock wall or flow riders due to lines. Ice skating was good only because how often can you say you have done that in the ocean. Line for that was also long. Only 50 people per session and apparently you can pre reserve that as well.
Our room was on deck 14 overlooking the boardwalk. It had an amazing view of everything, ocean, shows in aqua theater, activity on boardwalk, zip line. Great to people watch. We had the Best room steward ever !!! Beds were comfy and we slept well. The 3rd bed in the room was a fold out futon single. Very uncomfortable. Our room steward but a single mattress on top of it and made it better than home. For those of you bothered by noise, This room is noisy. It is directly under the zip line landing. Even with the doors closed the boardwalk was loud. On the map it looks like it's just a walkway over head. I think the Teen lounge is also close by. It didn't bother us but if you are a light sleeper it might.
Service: Overall Terrific,
Dining: Food was good not great. Only selected included options. Would have like to tried Chops but all the dining times except 530pm and 9pm had been booked well before the cruise started. We didn't find the buffet crowded, and service there was excellent. Ate breakfast 1 morning in the main dining room. Service was painfully slow. Another morning we tried Johnny rockets. Service was fast and friendly but menu was limited. I really enjoyed the Park Cafe. Wish it didn't close at 6pm. They had better stuff than the promenade cafe. Got stuck with MTD. Even though we had made our reservations we still waited 15-20 minutes each night to get to the podium to check in for dinner. We did find a waiter we really liked and had them add that to our reservation early in the week but even so once we checked in we waited additionally. I've decided that with set seating times the wait staff has a better handle on the timing of courses.
15-17 Year old kids club : Fail. My kids went the first night and said everyone in there seemed very young. The counselers said no need for introductions since everyone is already talking. The counseler told my daughter and her friend that they were to old for the 15-17 year old club and asked for their sea pass card. Then when they found out they where both 17, told them they would have more fun in the 18- 20 club. They tried but were denied. They ended up in the casino playing blackjack every night. Neither one of them drink and no one ever checked their ID. They managed to win about 100 dollars a night.
Ports: Labadee- Still on California time, we woke up late got to Labadee about 12 noon. RCI out of beach towels on board before leaving. Good thing I had packed some. Once on land, Found chairs no problem but unable to get the beach mat I had reserved and paid for the day before. They were out. The beach was nice. Not sure why they close the the buffet and drink area down at 1:30pm. Not everyone wants to drink alcohol or soda. We did sign up for the water play area. It was okay. Trying to climb on water toys with a bulky life jacket on is difficult. Taking it off was against RCI rules.
Jamaica : Our favorite port. Did Dunn River Falls and Green Grotto Cave through the ship. Had a great time at both places. Wish we could have stayed longer at the falls. We found the people of the Jamaica to be the the warmest and friendliest of any Caribbean island we have ever visited. We had heard the vendors in the craft market at Dunn River where very aggressive. We did not have that experience at all. We found them to be candid, funny, and enjoyed speaking with them. Can't wait to go back to Jamaica for a land based vacation
Cozumel : We've been here many times before on cruise ships and land based vacations. We choose to do a ship excursion to Xcaret over on the Playa Del Carmen side. This would be an easy trip to do on your own if you didn't have to worry about catching that ferry back to Cozumel and catching the ship. We have been to Xcaret before. It was fun but due to the time of year. It too was more crowded than I remember.
Gym seemed a little smaller than other RCI ships I've been on but had all the same equipment. The one 17 year old used it twice a day. He said it was crowded in the morning but the afternoon was fine. Several afternoons he ended up lifting with some of the guys from the Aqua show.
Disembarkation was a breeze. We did self carry off. We were down on the promenade deck at 6:15 am and in line. Ship started to unload at 6:40am. We were through customs by 7am and at the airport by 7:15 am for a 10:20 am flight. I had read other's complaining of slowing in the terminal and almost missing their flights, so maybe there is a window before it gets busy.
We had a fun vacation. I probably would not book this ship again during a holiday. It was just to crowded. RCI did there best to manage everyone. Just seemed like there was lines everywhere... Elevators, restaurants, shops and entertainment. Last but not least the people who clean this ship are nothing short of amazing. It was squeaky clean despite the masses of people on board.