My wife and I have just come back from an Italian Med cruise. We cruised on the 4th August 2013 from Southampton.
Overall we had a fantastic time but there are some gripes which we never had on our only other previous cruise on the 'Independence of the Seas' in 2011.
First of all the bad points. Too many children allowed to run riot throughout the ship especially on the stairwells (Where were the security? Where were the parents?), sunbeds being saved all day and nothing being done about it, entertainment started well in the first week but ended on the final farewell show with a very cringe worthy juggling act by two pensioners from Russia which was an absolute farce. The cruise director, Drew Devine and his non descript side kick Rob McNally need to go. Drew just goes on and on and has no 'real' charisma it all feels forced and Rob well there is just nothing there other than one or two 'old' Jokes. Take a look at how Josef does it on Independence of the Seas and you will understand. The street parties and quest need someone with a personality and natural charisma to get people involved. The Cruise directors support staff were great. Royal Caribbean need to address these issues especially in respect of the beds and the kids. Have their standards dropped??
Now the good. The service across the ship was brilliant, the staff were brilliant, the ship was very clean, tidy and in good repair. How people can say that the ship is in dire need of a refurb is beyond me. Yes there may be some small areas but there is nothing really obvious. Johnny Rockets was good, Schooners bar with Ed on the piano and singing was great. The ports we visited were great apart from Genoa. I would suggest going to Portafino on an excursion at this port. Stateroom and balcony was very tidy and clean. Embarkation was easy. We had a great time and met lots of new fiends and will certainly cruise with Royal Caribbean again but the very high standards we experienced in all areas on the Independence were not met on this cruise.