My husband and I have been on a dozen or so cruises over the years, and this sailing out of Baltimore was a bargain, especially since we could drive to the Port. The departure was effortless and we were on-board snacking in the Windjammer Buffet within about 30 minutes of getting dropped off at the port! I had tried to change our cabin a few days before sailing and was informed that it was a full ship... only 3 empty cabins in the entire ship. We also had to settle for Late Seating in the main dining room because of our last minute booking. We could have chosen the anytime dining option, but one of the things we enjoy most on our cruises is getting to know our table-mates over dinner throughout the trip.
The seas were pretty calm, the Captain was friendly, and the ports were a good mix, with plenty of various activities available to suit all tastes and budgets. As is our habit, we chose to explore each island on our own, renting a car in Aruba and St Maarten, taking a tour we booked after arriving on St Kitts, and taking a taxi to Mombo Beach in Curacao, rather than booking any excursions through the ship.
We found the ship to be very neat and clean and the staff were, without exception, helpful and friendly. Neither of us drink or gamble so I can't really comment on the casino or bars, but I heard no complaints. I liked the big screen by the pool, as well as the reggae music played there. The shows were pretty standard, though the David Haines Magic show was great!
So far, so good, right? So here are the things that were not so good...Our main complaint was with the food in the MDR--it was always served lukewarm, and the quality was not what we were expecting based on previous RCI cruises. The steaks were tough to the point of being inedible both times we ordered them, the fish was very overcooked and mushy, and the tiny lobster tail served on the last formal night was very overcooked and fishy tasting. That same night we had "Baked Alaska" for dessert, except instead of a slice of white cake, filled with ice cream, frosted with meringue, then quickly broiled to brown the tips of the meringue.... we got a small flat dish of completely melted Neopolitan ice cream covered with a layer of browned meringue! Also, the traditional appetizer of escargot was included on every single night, but was NEVER avaialable, and on every menu the explanation was that because of a worldwide escargot shortage, tiny bay scallops (dime-sized) would be substituted-- if they could print the substitution explanation, why not just say they are SERVING BAY SCALLOPS nightly?
The food at dinner in the Windjammer was generally better than the MDR, mainly because it was served hot and there were more choices. We also enjoyed the late snacks at the Park Cafe in the Solarium, though it seems like asking for trouble to eat chili dogs and pizza at 1:00 AM on a moving ship!
Aside from the issues with the food, this is the first time I have ever had a cabin with no refrigerator, no mints or chocolates on the pillow at night, where you had to ask for an ice bucket, no water pitcher, no toiletries at all in the bathroom save the generic all-purpose shampoo dispenser in the shower and the mini soap bar on the sink. I realize these are little things, but they all add to the cruise experience, and we missed them.
The disembarkation at Port Canaveral was smooth and efficient, however the area where passengers await the various shuttles, taxis, and buses could have been better organized... it wasn't too bad once we figured out that our shuttle would have a different company name and logo displayed on it than the name that was on our booking paperwork!
All in all, we enjoyed the trip, saw beautiful scenery, met lots of nice people, and visited interesting ports, but I think we will most likely try our luck with a different cruise line next time to see if similar cutbacks are being made.