My Wife, 9 year daughter and I have just returned from our first cruise (2 weeks around the Western Med) and in general we all had a great time.
Sailing from Southampton is very easy and stress free (from our experiences the exact opposite to flying). The boarding process is quick and efficient and we were on the ship relaxing with a drink in one of the bars within an hour of arriving at the port.
We were amazed at the size of the ship and the facilities (all excellent) it had on board. There were various shops, swimming pools, hot tubs, solarium, gym,secluded children's area complete with it's own pool/s, screening room, library, internet cafe (WiFi was expensive so not many people used it which was a shame),theatre, ice skating ring, crazy golf, basketball court and arcade.
We were also surprised and relieved to find that the ship was very spacious meaning that you can find plenty of quiet and peaceful areas if you wanted to.
There is an extensive choice of restaurants and bars (prices quite reasonable)to choose from and these cater of all tastes. The quality and variety of the food in particular was superb and we would find it very hard to pick fault with any of it. The Windjammer was our favourite place to eat as it was very informal which suited us. There is also the option to eat evening meals at one of the main restaurants which was a lot more formal which many people liked with the food again being of a very high quality. In all instances the level of service is excellent.
We had an inside state room which prior to sailing has caused us some concerned. Our fears soon disappeared, it was small but had everything you needed. The bed/s were very comfy and the air conditioning worked properly meaning that we all slept soundly. The shower was also more than adequate (I am 6' 4" and 20 stone so if I can use it without a problem anybody can). Deck 10 where we were was also very quiet and peaceful (our stateroom attendant Fernando deserves a special mention as he kept it very clean and tidy. He was also very pleasant and helpful).
The entertainment was generally very good and there was lots to see and do for all. In the daytime there was a full activities programme to suit all ages. At night there was a show/s in the main theatre as well as entertainment in the various lounges and bars on the ship.
The port days were exciting, waking up in a new destination is something we really enjoyed. We stopped at Malaga (very nice), Cannes (nice in parts), Barcelona (fantastic), Palma (we spent the day at Palma Nova beach which is nearby and very good), Valencia (very nice), Catagena (hidden gem with a great Roman Theatre), Lisbon (very good with a fantastic suspension bridge) and Vigo (nice). We would note that we did not go on any excursions as they were very expensive. At some of the ports shuttle buses were provided at a charge (RCI apparently made no money from these as the Port Agent arranged), these were expensive ($10 or $15 dollar) for what they were and if we went again, certainly at Malaga we would either walk or get a taxi into town as it wasn't actually very far.
One of the hot topics of debate for most cruises is that of gratuities. We paid ours upfront but some people choose to cancel this when on-board, paying tips as they went along (apparently). We would note that the American culture is very different to ours in the UK and a number of staff receive very little basic pay meaning that gratuities make up a lot of their wages.
All in all this was a very positive experience for us and we would highly recommend cruising with Royal Caribbean. We will certainly go on another one in the not so distance future and are already considering our options for next year.