Background Information: We are a couple in our late 20's who have cruised often but this was our first sailing as adults with Royal Caribbean. We traveled with a couple in their early 50's & a 16 year old. This cruise unfortunately departed at the time where the UK and Europe was expecting the worst storm for 25 years.
Hotel & Embarkation: We stayed the night before embarkation at the Premier Inn West Quay Southampton. The hotel was the usual good standard of a Premier Inn and was only a very short drive to the ship (approx 10min walk). Embarkation on the Sunday was well organised and extremely quick. From getting in the line for security to getting on the ship was only 10 minutes. As always the buffet restaurant was extremely busy but the food was good.
Itinerary: We were meant to visit Cherbourg, Vigo, Gijon, Bilbao & Le Havre. Due to the storm approaching the UK we had a number of changes throughout the journey sometimes at 24 hours notice. The Captain and his staff kept everyone informed on a regular basis and handled the situation very well. The number of people complaining about this situation was ridiculous, it seemed that people didn't understand that all changes were made because of the safety of passengers.
Ship: The ship did seem crowded but I believe this was due to the open decks being closed for half the itinerary due to high winds. The ship overall is in a good condition with only the cabins showing a little bit of wear & tear.
Service: Overall the service was excellent with only some small issues with our cabin attendant. We had a number of issues which were dealt with very quickly and efficiently. Our main issue occurred when one of cases appeared at our cabin without a handle... after reporting to guest services our case was taken from our cabin and replaced within 3 days with a brand new case. Very Impressive!
Dining & Food: Overall the quality & variety of food was excellent in all venues. We had my time dining and often booked on the day, this was okay if you wanted a table after 8.15 but impossible if wanted to eat earlier. We often struggled to get a table in the buffet restaurant at lunchtime and breakfast but I think this was due to people sitting at the table for a longtime after finishing their meal. We ate twice at Johnny Rockets and enjoyed the food and experience.
Entertainment: We enjoyed most of the music in the various venues on board and the shows we watched were also good. We missed the ice show however our travel buddies went and said it was excellent.
Drinks: Yes drinks prices are expensive compared to some other cruise lines but are comparable to London prices. Good selection of drinks but the drink of the day did repeat throughout the 8 night cruise.
Other Passengers: A variety of ages with a lot of children & teenagers as it was school holidays in the UK. We knew this would be the case but we didn't expect groups of teenagers sitting in the corridors, on the stairs and taking over the lifts by playing games. Many were rude and inconsiderate of other guests and I think this should have been addressed by the parents or security. We also found some very rude guests who would talk to staff like they were something they had stepped in, it doesn't take much to offer a smile and a hello.
Disembarkation: Was quick and well organised from leaving the ship it only took 10minutes to reach our car.
Summary: Overall the food was great but we felt the cruise was overcrowded (likely due to the weather), we would travel with Royal Caribbean again but out of the school holidays and if the price was right.