Let me start off by saying I have sailed on RCI before and love their company. I will try and be as detailed as possible so as to help those in the future who are looking for a cruise or a honeymoon. I will break it down in segments so that one can quickly navigate to a section they are interested in.
The Cape Liberty port in Bayonne, NJ is an eyesore. There are many run down buildings in the area. RCI tries their best in making good use of the space but you cannot miss the broken down buildings and ships around that part of the port. C'mon RCI, I have been to other posts and they look great compared to this one. As we drove there, there was a bad smell in the area and seems that there is a refuse station nearby, or at least smelled like one. Embarkation was a breeze and the staff was sure to help get you situated in areas for boarding. Once we were on the ship, at 1200, nothing was open and we along with many other guest just sat around.
The ship is immense. I have sailed on other cruise lines and this still is one of the biggest ships. She is starting to show her age though. Many rust spots on the exterior to include our balcony. The exterior furniture, including the pool chairs even had rust on them, which caused a stain on my wife's bikini. The interior carpets are worn in some areas, but that is to be expected for the amount of people that are in the ship and for the last 13 years. The crew does their best to keep things working and clean. They are AWESOME at working to make the cruising experience pleasant. YES, it is time for a makeover.
Our room was very clean and our stateroom attendant, Selwin, was awesome. He did everything he could for us ALWAYS calling us by name. He seemed to be ALWAYS working and at times I felt bad for him with the way some of the other guest treated he and other attendants. Just because they are from other countries with accents doesn't make them second class people. Good for you RCI for hiring those from around the world.
The stateroom was smaller than how it was explained. Our Princess stateroom with a balcony was much larger. The room furniture was quite outdated, however we were one of the few people who actually had a flat screen TV, although small. The stateroom carpet was old and worn. As mentioned before the balcony had a lot of rust in the corners and the support beams. We were careful after staining one of my shirts not to lean on the beam.
The bathroom was clean, but again their was rust in the corners where the metal was exposed. It was well stocked, even twice in most days with towels.
Main dining was a wonderful experience. The food was great and staff did everything to make it enjoyable. The food was well cooked and the choices were amazing. Portofino was also an amazing dinner choice. We met other honeymooners and became friends with them. My Time dining worked great because we dined with our new friends for the rest of the nights(7).
Now the Windjammer was quite the opposite. It was cafeteria food at best. The burgers were dry and it was the same choices pretty much everyday.
The guests in the Windjammer were like herds of cattle just scooping away, getting food all over the place, and the staff barely could keep up to try and clean the mess. We chose to grab food and bring it back to our room, along with many other couples, because there was no control in the room. People would just bump into each other, spilling and there were A LOT of kids running around. There should be more control or at least more adult areas. Of the adult only areas, we saw no real control of keeping the teens out. This is probably why I will not cruise an RCI cruise again and still with some of the more high end cruises. RCI is much more suited for families, and parents who just will let their kids run wild.
I have been on many cruises and found Leigh and Frank(Cruise Director and Activities Manager) to be phenomenal. Probably some of the best in the business which explains why they area leaving the ship for promotions, at least Frank that is. I imagine Leigh will end up on one of the newest ships, deservedly so. We will definitely miss the Frank-Leigh Speaking show. They made it enjoyable to watch in the morning as we got ready for the day.
The ice show and the singers were great. The hypnotist as well as the juggler was a joke, c'mon RCI is that all you can line up with the budget that you have.
I know that they have to accommodate all the guests but even all the people in the Palace Theater thought those last two shows mentioned were unworthy.
Bermuda was very clean and the people were friendly. The waters were pristine and amazing place to visit. Great first port, although expensive, a great place to visit
There needs to be an adults only area. All the beaches packed up and were noisy. Their prices were high for their excursions, and since its their portion of the island, you have no other choices really. We chose to get a floating mat and float as far away from the LOUD people.
The food was more of an extension of windjammer which wasn't all that appealing.
The locals are pushy to try and get you to buy from them at the Artisan market. Every vendor was selling almost exactly the same thing. A couple times they tried to pull my wife into shop and let go when I walked behind her with muscles flexed. LOL.
San Juan was a waste of a port. We got in at 7am and nothing really opened until 9 or 10, which forced many to chose an RCI excursion. We did the same excursion at the Bacardi factory for 7 dollars each when RCI charges 25-30. We rode the ferry and taxi to and from the factory for 7 dollars round trip for each of us. the tour of the factory is free. So what your paying for the RCI version is a tour bus, that's it.
Another awesome port to visit with great people. The waters were amazing and we were able to sit and sun ourselves in the warm waters and sandy beaches. It was clean and the islanders were friendly and helpful. Just be careful that those that try and help you in the beach are asking for a price. And the prices are not the same for everyone so basically negotiate your chair and umbrella prices. They can vary widely and be firm with an offer.