My wife and I have floated with Royal before. This great deal caught our eye, mainly because of that. But when we realized we could piece this trip together comfortably, we and 2 other friends went for it and were we glad we did! Here's our thoughts and comments on the basic biggies most want to know about.
1) Service: We had no problems whatsoever with any workers in any areas of the ship. No, we didn't 'close our eyes' to any potential problems. But our room was always clean, always fresh ice in the bucket, bed made. Moses was great. Our traveling partners (2 doors down) had the same worker, so we had a good time together.
2) Dining room staff, especially grateful, helpful and pleasant - even when we could see they were tired or overworked. Always willing to bring the extra appetizer, soup even entree's and desert. Went out of their way. And never acted like they were ONLY acting nice to get a tip. (We like to tip a few days BEFORE the cruise ends, that is with our extra, and let them know they'll get the 'standard' as well. Then, you can test their treatment. All were stable and perfect!) Claudia and Dimitri were just wonderful.
3) Bar staff. Well, we befriended Mark Villanueva from the Bar (serving the dining room). What a pleasure he was to us all. He always let us know what was special, and helped us purchase signature glasses right in the dining room. He made our time great.
4) Food: the food was delicious, very good. We enjoyed it for sure. Few observations. We had salmon a few nights in a row, always nested upon a standard , 'fancy mashed potatoes' bed. After a while, we noticed lots of dishes came with those same potatoes, and most of our group began to tire of them. Eventually, we had to even ask, "can I have this dish with something else, even sides of veggies?" Our staff always accommodated. I had prime rib the first night. Cooked perfectly, but a little cold inside (I can still deal with that). but...i was a little struck by the lack of flavor within the meat. It was really my only disappointing beef for the cruise, but it stood out, since prime rib is one of the things you can order every night. Desserts were good, but nothing knocked it out of the park. In the end, my wife said (to my surprise), "I think the food on Carnival, is MUCH better." I hadn't thought of it that way, by comparison. And always think of Royal as superior. In this case - I think she was right!
5) Activities: for us, was just right. Biggest activity some of us were into was sitting around talking, reading our books. My wife travels with her art supplies and we had little 'sessions' with friends, drawing water colors up in a quiet lounge. theater's always there when you want to go at night. We went to 1. That was enough for our taste.
6) Ship itself. I read lots of 'complaints' about "it's getting old. Worn out. Needs upgrading." Surprised at all that really. Even some complaints about carpet on the stairs looking worn out. (I looked and didn't find it!). I also thought: "Are you living on the stairs?" for us, traveling to and fro, we didn't see anything that stood out as showing the ship was old and in need of major refurbishing. Though we understand this took place ... now I wanna see it again!
7) Captain Hendrik Sorrensen. We thought he was great. Great sense of humor. Kept us updated with daily announcements just enough to be nice. Was involved on the TV entertainment, always nice to see.
8) Ports. We loved it. I want MORE days at sea. St.Maarten was great. Glad St. Thomas was dropped (sorry) and that Canary Islands put in - marvelous. Portugal, was awesome, and we spent most of a week there with friends we had arranged beforehand.
Biggest complaint: wish we could have had about 5 more days at sea! Can you tell we like it?
We hope that RCI has prices like that again for transatlantic. Will definitely take them again.
Again, if you've never done a transatlantic, but you like cruising - don't be shy. One of the only hurdles is the 1-way ticket back home. We were very fortunate because we live in the Caribbean, and can fly 1-way from Europe cheaper than most cities in the States. Another tip: look at using your air-miles for a 1-way. Can come out much cheaper than purchasing a 1-way ticket.
Thanks for reading this!