My son ( 11yrs) and I have been home for two weeks now and it has taken me this long to actually think what exactly I would say in my review.
The ship is , as described, very large and comes with 'much WOW' but somehow it always felt for me in particular there was something missing.
Our outside balcony cabin was more than satisfactory and as expected. The staff were ultra attentive, friendly and helpful and nothing too much trouble.
The many parts of the ship, the Neighbourhoods, were interesting and pleasurable. Central Park was a real favourite of mine and only a short stretch from our 8 Deck cabin.
We tried the main Dining Room several times. The service was very on the ball with friendly waiters every time but we, and our next door cabin people who were a two-some also, found that on occasions we were squeezed into a corner near to the food delivery station which was not conducive to a nice meal out.One could, and we did, ask and get a move on another evening.
When we joined a larger group of other Brit-travellers the table was always well placed.Food was fine, not to my standard, fantastic, but I know that I have high standards from regular travelling.Most people will find it perfectly fine.
The MyTime Dining worked well for us and rarely were we waiting longer than mere minutes.
We tried a couple of the specialised restauarants also.
Ritas Cantina attracted a 20$ adult charge but did include for me, 3 Margaritas which were definitely on the large size and Nacho starters , so well worth the charge. Our first visit there was on Fiesta night and there was lots of music and Dancing happening around, culminating in most of the guests ending up on the Boardwalk dancing to such as The Macarena!! with the staff. Great stuff.The food tho set menu was plentiful.We enjoyed it so much we went again on an ordinary night and still had a good time with nice ( and trying to be authentic) Mexican food again
Our other foray was to the Brasilian Resaurant where the meat is carved at table by a 'Gaucho'. This is located in the Solarium,(evenings only) and was 30$ per person with no freebies.Service was very good and decoration was upmarket and soothing but somehow although fine,the food did not have quite the wowfactor of a previous experience we had last year in Niagara Falls where we were blown away ( had all my 3 boys there that time) and where there were desserts such as grilled and syrup- ed Pineapples and Banana on long skewers carved at table.(RCI take note!!!) However if you dont mind paying the rather high entrance charge it could be a nice evening still.
Windjammer restaurant was great for breakfast and lunch with lots of choices but one did have to choose the right time as it did get full and queues (you call them 'lines') formed but were dealt with speedily . We never fancied this place in the evenings however .
Park Cafe was fine if you like bagels, salads etc mostly made to order with extra seating out in the Central Park. Sorrento Pizza was more suited to my son in a 'i'm passing so i'll grab a piece of Pizza' mode,though beware as the Cocacola is not FOC here, only the iced water. Shame on you RCI.
Vintages looked an interesting place.
There were lots of other Bars to suit all tastes, all offering at times entertainment of some kind, quizzes ( force yourself to stop being British and go along ,it was fun) and Piano Music.
We saw most of the shows . My favourite was the Comedy show. Very well done.The Aquatheatre shows were entertaining and something to marvel at.
A point to remember is if you cannot get a place for an Aquatheatre show or get there late, head for the 7Deck aft cabins Port or Starboard, walk right to the very end and you will be out on the rear balcony overlooking the Aquatheatre and the show. Solution.
We went ashore on pre-arranged trips at two of the ports (Cozumel was rained off sadly). The first, us two alone in Haiti for Jet -skiing which even this 'feeling old Mummy' with my backseat 11 yr old squealing'faster faster' enjoyed.The BBQ laid on by RCI was unexpected and filling but otherwise we found the RCI Labadee experience a little contrived and not authentic.
Jamaica trip felt better, but again, not cheap,and one had to tip everyone and everything from the driver to the toilet attendant. We tried River InnerTubing riding with lunch included after at a nearby restaurant and later Dunns River Falls climbing. More fun if you're in a group, as we were by then, but everyone is friendly we found.
Duuns river falls is not for the faint- hearted however and many people should question themselves as to are they agile enough for the climb. If the FALLS were situated in the UK there would be virtually no chance of the wet water climb for anyone without harnesses/ropes/trained SAS people etc. !!
A tip : you can buy the wet water climbing shoes just as you get onto Jamaica in many of the little shops at the port for as little as 8$ a pair.
My boy enjoyed the Deck 15 Pools every day, snacked til he couldnt any more, tried the Wall Climbing, the Zip Wire/ the Flowrider several times, the Ice Skating also several times and the piece de resistance the Amusement Arcade. The childrens clubs looked well appointed and the staff we encountered diligent and caring but unfortunately there were very few other children his age at the time so he didnt want to stay. He made plenty of friends in the pool however.
My only real gripe was the constant tipping (gratuities)for what felt like absolutely everything and the high charges for things like the specialised restaurants which we have never found so much in Europe/MiddleEast.
All in all a very good time can be had and we will probably do it all again in a year or two.Knowledge is King I think.