Cruising used to be a special experience, and an escape from everyday life. Every need was anticipated and fulfilled, and you experienced new and wonderful things. Sadly, I rarely felt this way on this cruise. It began with an awful embarkation in a Bayonne warehouse (picture a bus station with 1970's technology). Throughout the cruise we were continuously reminded that "special" was defined by Royal Caribbean as paying extra, or having gold member status (don't go there, that's for the gold members...).
Advertising on board was shameless, to the point where you couldn't sit anywhere without having to move a cardboard sign out of your way. Many of the key service staff could only speak from a script, and knowledge about the ship's activities or destination was limited to what he cruise line sold. As a fellow cruiser said to me during the trip, "They're a very secretive company."
The food was fair, but I eat better at home. The ship was clean, but the space was as cramped and awkward to move through as I've ever experienced on a cruise. There were many dead-ends, blocked exits, and pinch points as crowds tried to move through the common areas.
I'm surprised that this cruise line came to us so highly recommended. It felt like an airline journey, and we had to work hard to find fun and fun people.