Having sailed on Cunard in 2012 to The Baltics we decided this year we would like try Iceland and Norwegian Fjoirds this year. After some research we discovered that AOS Royal Caribbean was sailing out of Southampton to this destination on dates that fitted excatly to our holiday leave.
On reading reviews of the ship we were a little apprehensive but decided we would still try the AOS and make our own minds up as we also had not sailed with Royal Caribbean before.
We booked directly with RCI using the internet which was really simple and convenient. We decided we would like a balcony cabin and choose a X guarantee which was slightly cheaper and meant our balcony cabin would be issued nearer the time of departure. We received notification that we were in cabin 8378 Superior Ocean View. This cabin was located aft of the ship but suited us as very quiet. We felt the engine vibration the first night but then soon blended into the cabin ambiance and we didn't notice it again, in fact it helped me to secure a great nights sleep every night.We also managed to get a credit on board for $200 for booking during a certain time period which practically paid for our fine onboard wine dinner package.
We sailed out of Southampton and used a local hotel the previous evening. We arrived at the ship around 12.30, handed our tagged bags to porters and were directed to a short queue for check in which was very well organized. We then joined a queue on the airbridge attached to the ship and within 10 minutes we were on board. It was all very casual, no grand welcome, no pressure for photographs just a welcoming smile and a few crew around if you needed any assistance.
We made our way straight to the Windjammer for lunch which was very busy but the staff made a good job of keeping tables clear and we found a table within minutes. We heard an announcement that cabins would be ready by 14.00 and they were.
We easily found our cabin although there was crew around to direct. We were really pleasantly surprised with our cabin. The cabin was spacious, the bathroom was the biggest we had ever had and the balcony was an ideal size.
On reading other reviews of AOS people complained that the ship was outdated and scruffy. We thought she was a lovely ship, had large corridors to the cabins, all the public areas were clean and well maintained. We noticed ongoing maintenance varnishing of rails, cleaning the ships windows and balconys etc come rain or shine those boys were out there doing a great job to keep the AOS ship shape!
The pre -departure drill was easy and quick . We didn't have to take our life vests from the cabin which was a first. On arriving at the muster station our names were ticked off from a list, which again I have never experienced.
Sailing away from Southampton was glorious the sun shone and a great view of the Isle of White. We decided to eat at straight away Johnny Rockets rather than the main dinning room that night so we could go back to the cabin unpack and then just explore the ship at our own leisure. The cost of $4.95 each was well worth the view as JR is located on deck, sailing peacefully along enjoying the evening sunshine.
Back to our cabin and introduction to our cabin attendant Arron from Manilla. He was very friendly and discreet. We asked for Ice and Ice came everyday for 13 nights without further request. Our bags arrived around 18.00.The cabin furnishing were clean and looked like they had been recently updated. The mattress was wonderful, best sleep ever. We had a flat screen TV which we noticed were being fitted in other cabins along our deck during the cruise. As I said ongoing and constant modernizing despite being in for refurbishment in 2014. The TV had an accounts page which was immediately updated when you purchased anything to your stateroom . I thought this was a great idea and saved any further query . Our accounts statement was right first time!
The shopping area was quaint it was located in a arcade Promenade style deck 4 with bars and cafes . Cafe Promenade was open 24 hours serving hot drinks and snacks which was really useful rather than have to go to Windjammer on the higher Deck 12. The dinning in Vilvaldi restaurant at night was excellent. Food was fine, the service was excellent by our waiters who remembered our names. Windjammer for DIY breakfast and lunch suited us; always large selection of food and very friendly staff who were always smiling.
The entertainment on board in the theater was acceptable but the highlight as everyone says is the Ice Show. Make sure you get a ticket which are free of charge.
On our Iceland and Norweigan cruise the AOS capacity was 3400 but I think about 2800 only on board. We never found a problem sitting in a bar or at another venue . As the weather was unpredictable the open decks werent used very much but we still always found our own space below decks.
Overall we were extremely pleased with the RCI and AOS in particular the very friendly, discreet and professional crew. We loved the feel of the older style ship and its amenities . Well done all on board the AOS we will definitely rebook again with the RCI.