Royal Caribbean does not disappoint! This was my second cruise with Royal Caribbean and although this ship was significantly smaller, it was very well cared for and the crew was awesome! To try and present the most thorough and helpful review, I will cover all the main areas.
CABINS: We had an interior cabin and considering the amount of time we spent in the cabin (the 3s's: shower, sleep, and you know the other one!) it was suffice. The beds came as a king size despite us requesting in the reservation to have it as two twins. No worries though because our room attendant took care of it prior to us going to the room for the night. We had two instances of the toilet backing up (through no fault of our own) but a mechanic came within a couple hours to fix the problem. There was plenty of storage space and overall a good bet for the money.
FOOD AND DINING: We opted for My Time Dining and it worked out great! Although it's not made clear that you have to make dinner reservations on that day for that evening's dining. There is only a certain time window you can make the reservations (which are not good on days the ship is in port), or you can make them when the dining window opens (6:30). I liked the flexibility of My Time Dining and I also liked the opportunity to meet more/different people by dining with a new crew each night. You also had the option to have your own table if there were two or more of you. The food selection was good and there was plenty to go around. If not, just order more! The Park Cafe was a good spot for salads/wraps/sweets and there was plenty of water/tea/lemonade available for free. The all-inclusive drink package was not a good deal for us as we rarely drink alcohol and there was enough free liquid to go around. The drink specials of the day were interesting and for $7 you get to keep the glass. One thing I noticed in the main dining room is when we ate early, we felt rushed to hurry up and leave before the next seating comes. The later seating the waiters seemed a little more relaxed and sociable.
ACTIVITIES: Bingo and Karaoke were big on our list. The shows were "OK." The performances put on by the cruise and activity directors were good! The all white pool party was fantastic! As well as the 70s show! Anthony was the cruise director and he and Michelle were great! Full of energy and a lot of fun. Icy the Bingo Queen, Enzo and Orlando both know how to entertain the guests and are pros at getting the crowd involved! There was certainly something for everyone on the cruise from fitness to dancing up a storm until the early morning.
SPA: We utilized the spa quite a bit and overall I would say this wasn't one of my best experiences. The acupuncture was good and did pass all the hygiene and cleanliness tests! The massage and facial was not so great. Neither was the nail service I received. The same individual did all the services and I believe she was so tired, stressed and overworked that it poured over into her performance. She was running almost 30 minutes behind on the appointment so it was rush me in the room then rush through the massage and facial, and rush out to take care of the next client. The massage techniques and pressure was one of the best, but her stress level was transferred to me and I could never fully relax. In addition, the running track is above the spa, so you constantly heard the "thump, thump, thump" of people running. That is a poor design for the cruise ship and Royal Caribbean should really look at changing the design if they want people to truly enjoy the tranquility of a spa setting. When I got my nails done, the technician did not use the proper techniques (on more than one occasion) and also deeply cut my finger with the nail file (continuous bleed). Needless to say, I was not pleased and couldn't leave fast enough. I spoke with the manager about my experience and she was more than willing to work out some type of compensation. I had one more service, the detox, and it was great! The technician (not the same as above) was thorough and knowledgeable and was able to answer all my questions. One thing to keep in mind is these spa employees work long hours every day and I heard several of them complain they didn't feel well yet couldn't get a day off. There were several people that were "put off the ship" because they were hurt or couldn't keep up with the level of clientele. Day 2 of the cruise the fitness classes were all cancelled because the fitness person hurt his knee. The attitude and atmosphere in the spa was drastically different (declined) on Day 5 than it was on Day 1.
PORTS: This cruise took us to Split, Kusadasi, Santorini, and Katakalon. The stops were nice but unfortunately we were caught up in the tourist trap. We were duped into buying jewelry in Kusadasi sold as Zultanite but when I got home and had it tested by a gemologist it was nothing but glass worth nothing. Buyer beware of the taxi men taking you to Ephesus with convenient stops along the way to Zirve Rug and Galata jewelry store. Our experience at Zirve was nice, the workers were knowledgeable and friendly, and we even got a chance to see the rug making process. We spent a good 3 hours there and the guy was very patient the entire time I guess so though because he made a killing off us! I opted to have the purchases delivered. I have not received them yet so the jury is still out on this company. The rugs were extremely nice and good quality, but I still think I paid way too much for them. We did get a traditional Turkish meal freshly made though! As far as Galata, the gold is beautiful but I would stay away from buying any gemstones or diamonds there. They are overpriced and unless you have a tester with you, I wouldn't take the chance on them being real. All friendly people everywhere we went, but they also target tourists for a living and they are good at what they do. Experts in their field! The same goes for "genuine fake" purses or anything else. Enjoy the sights and the food but unless you are an expert in jewelry, rugs, or know exactly what you are looking for, I would enjoy the experience but keep your money in your pocket. Or decide a set amount you are willing to spend and don't budge. They will offer "payment plans" or even take you back to the ship to get your credit card all so they can make their money.
Overall this was a great vacation and gave me a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle. We were able to meet people from all over the world, and by the end of the cruise we formed bonds with some pretty awesome people! Royal Caribbean held to their high standard of customer service and went above and beyond to rectify any issues. I am already looking to see when I can book my next cruise with them!