My husband and I are 30 yrs old and took this trip to celebrate our 1st year wedding anniversary. I've been on 2 cruises before (8 yrs ago on Celebrity and RC's Enchantment) and am so glad I've come back to Royal! I would never try another cruise line! My husband has never been on a cruise so this was his first time sailing. We sailed the week of May 4 to the Eastern Caribbean. First off, I just want to mention that we are very low maintenance people and it would be very hard for us not to have a blast on ANY vacation! So here it goes:
Embarkation- We landed in Fort. Lauderdale at 10:30AM, took a 10 minute taxi ride ($12) to the ship and waited no more than 1 hour to get on the ship. We were eating lunch by 11:30AM. After exploring we were able to get into our room at exactly 1PM. My husband had his luggage in the afternoon but found out later that night mine was confiscated because I tried to sneak on a travel iron so I had to go down to the dungeon to claim it, haha. The muster was different than the last cruises I've been on, we didn't have to sweat outside in the life jackets. We met at different inside stations and watched a quick video and it over within 20 minutes or so.
Our room: We had an ocean view balcony on Deck 8 and loved it! This was my first balcony. The room had a big bed, couch, and even though we are small people, we still found it a little tight, especially in the bathroom. Only 1 person at a time. The shower was small too. There was plenty of storage space for us and 3 outlets were plenty but we didn't really use them. Rosendo was our room keeper and he was great! He made us 3 towel animals, left us pillow chocolates, as well as champagne for our anniversary. We received the cruise compasses daily along with other announcements and found them to be very informative.
The ship: It took us about 2 days to figure out where everything was on this ship, it's just amazing! It was like a giant hotel, but the nickel and diming does get annoying. When docked up against other ships at the ports, it was cool to be on the biggest one! As for rocking of the boat, there were a few times when we could feel the ship rocking, but the seas didn't look that rough. The ship seemed crowded mostly by the pools on sea days, but other than that everyone was well spread out (with the exception of shows getting out, and the occasional shopping sales). The weather was great for us the entire week. I was worried about the masses of kids on this ship, but there didn't seem to be too many as they seem to hide them well in their own areas. I would definitely come back the same time of month.
Food: This ship is big into sanitizing, so they always had sanitizing stations or someone waiting with a squirt of sanitizer for you before entering restaurants. Washy Washy!
We always ate the best breakfasts in the Windjammer as we loved the assortment of foods. It was always busy but you could always find a table if you keep looking. You can always check the restaurant crowds on the TV screens around the ship to see how busy they were. For lunch we usually had sandwiches/salads/snacks in Park Cafe which was very good. We always indulged in the ice cream cones by the pool quite often! For dinner, we had My-time Dining. We choose our reservations before the ship sailed so we never ended up waiting for a seat. We sat in the same seat every night with Ian and Oscar as our waiters. We loved them and miss them!! We were in and out within 1 hr with just the 2 of us at a table. One night though, we got seated in the next section over and had the worst service with these other waiters. Overall, the food was pretty good, though the menu was limited. I did miss that there was no midnight buffet with all the neat fruit carvings. The TA gave us a free dinner certificate for a specialty restaurant so this was the only time we tried one and we choose Chops Grille. The food was awesome!! We had melt in your mouth fillet along with the best side dishes. The desserts portions were huge! We got a piece of red velvet cake and a chocolate cake of some kind. They let us take 1 back to the room. They also sang to us for our anniversary! The service was awesome! The only other food we paid for was at the Cupcake Cupboard and I thought they were yummy and well worth it! The free donuts were alright, definitely not like Dunkin Donuts.
Alcohol: There were plenty of bars around and I found the drinks to be plenty strong, though expensive of course. There were always people walking around taking orders so you never had to get up. We didn't visit any of the lounges/clubs but we did take a ride on the Rising Tide Bar which was neat. On our last night someone had told us about the Viking Crown Lounge (which we never came across) so we were able to get a quick view up there before the sun went down, it was nice!
Gym/Spa: We walked through the spa but didn't use it. The gym was nice and my husband used it once. The running tracking outside was nice too if you don't mind the heat.
Activities: We went ice-skating, played mini golf, table tennis, and used the Flow-rider once. It was a little hard in that you only had a few minutes to figure out how to do it before you fell off and had to get back in line. These activities were all fun though!
Pools: We spent our sea days in the Solarium (16yrs+). It was not a very shaded area but seemed to be the most peaceful. They had nice hot tubs overlooking the ocean and 1 pool which got crowded. There were always chairs available around the ship which was nice.
Activities: I didn't see very many pool activities on this ship but one thing I did miss from the smaller ships was the ice sculpting on the pool deck. Some small shows we attended in the Aqua theater were the belly-flop contest, Splish-Splash (Diving,acrobatics), Fountain show, Skyfall the movie on screen.
All I have to say if Ricky the cruise director was so fun! Such a high energy person who gets you into the show and makes you want to come back for more!
Shows: We booked all the shows in advance as well and had no problems getting good seats as long as we where there early enough. We liked them all for the most part! Headliner- Oldies music, Come Fly With Me- Acrobatics, Frozen in Time- Ice skating, Hairspray-Broadway, Oasis of Dreams- Diving. We saw the comedy show was well. The first guy was good and funny, had us laughing to tears but the second guys idea of fun was making fun of everyone in the front row. He was funny, but I wouldn't find it amusing if we were the topic of laughter. Sit in the far back corner! He started to talk to us but we managed to toss him back up to picking on the front, Phew!
Islands: Getting on and off the ship for the island days were very quick and easy, although you did have to go through security getting back on every time.
Bahamas: We booked the Blue Lagoon Deluxe beach day and it was so fun! We used the inflatable slides (extra $ for some equipment), sat in the hammocks, and played giant board games on the picnic tables. The lunch that was provided was good too. We also walked around looking at the dolphins and sea lions excursions going on. It was nice to be able to see them for free. That is a must-do for next time! I'm glad we choose this place over Atlantis.
St.Thomas: We took a taxi ourselves ($12) to Magens Bay. We had a nice scenic ride and the driver pulled over to a lookout point to let us take some amazing pics! The beach itself was beautiful and a must-see.
St. Maarten: We booked the Rhino Riders adventure on this island and it was a blast! Each couple got a mini boat and we took an island tour over to Happy Beach to do some snorkeling. It wasn't the best snorkeling but the tour itself was so fun! I definitely recommend it!
So sad to bring up the end as I was just re-living this vacation while typing.but here it goes
Dis-embarkation: Quick and easy. We received luggage tags (section 30) the night before and put our bags out planning to be off by 9:30AM the next day for a 12:30PM flight home. We ate breakfast and went to our station around 9AM to wait and they had always let everyone off. We had to wait about 20 minutes to go through the customs line which wasn't bad. When it was time to get my luggage in our section, mine was yet again nowhere to be found. After telling someone on the floor I couldn't find by luggage she told me to check the lost tag area and it wasn't there. So then we literally had to check every section of luggage until I finally came across it about 25 minutes later in section 47 Ugg, watch out for that!! I also had to go to the service desk at the terminal to get my iron back haha. So after that we grabbed another taxi ($12) and were at the airport in 10 minutes.
Overall, we give this cruise vacation an A! While on the ship, we put a deposit down on a future cruise with them so we are looking forward to going to the Western Caribbean next time! All the staff on the ship was extremely friendly and helped make this vacation what it was, they all work so hard! How can anyone not enjoy it? You have to try this ship at least 1 time and I guarantee it will be so hard to go to something smaller because they have set the bar really high! Enjoy!