We've traveled with Royal Caribbean for many years now. This trip showed some noticeable inconsistencies which should be fixed.
Transportation to the pier was OK, but the van wasn't air conditioned and in 97 degree heat, it needed to be. Embarkation was very smooth, room was ready, luggage arrived as expected and ship looked fine. Muster drill was actually fun.
Breakfast was either in the Windjammer or the MDR. The coffee machine in the back of the Windjammer was empty every morning we were there,(!) and the Danish tray was over half empty every time we were in the MDR.
We ate in MDR every night. The food was fine, nice selection (good pork chops) and great bread. But several times the entrees came out barely warm (fish). Even when returned, the replacement wasn't warm enough. The service was average to poor. Our waiter never remembered over the entire cruise that one of our tablemates only spoke a foreign language and needed a different menu. Always had to be reminded. And the one time we asked twice for a second dessert, we were completely ignored. The Assistant waiter started off strong, but by the 2nd night would disappear for 20 minutes at a time. We had trouble ordering wine and even ice tea. Other passengers we met had similar food comments, but better waiters. The head waiters were not much better, often standing around, chatting with each other and then inquiring at the end of the meal if there was anything we needed. I would have been more impressed if they chipped in and helped. And they really only need one night to sing to the diners - not 3.
The singing throughout the rest of the ship needed help too. The production shows were average and didn't make much sense. We kept trying to find a story line, but never could. The headliner shows were good. The small combo that played in the Centrum was off pitch often. The Jewel of the Seas band was fantastic - their best event was the big band songs. The pianist was good. Again, an inconsistent group.
The cruise director - Dennis Charles - was one of the best we've ever encountered. Even with a port intensive trip, he managed to get out and talk with the passengers often. The bartender at the Champagne bar remembered our order from 3 days earlier! The pool side servers were attentive but not pushy.
We enjoyed trying a Junior Suite - great bathroom size and walk in closet. It was spotless and nice to relax in. But the hallways always seemed to have bags on the floor, even at night. The gym was not crowded and clean, and the spa, while smaller than on other ships, still delivered excellent service.
We will cruise with RCI again - we made a non specific future reservation while on board. I'm not sure if the poor service in the MDR was due to the change in tipping policy or poor management. I hope it was the latter, so that the exemplary experience we've come to appreciate will be evident on our next