This was our second cruise with RCCL, and we wanted to see if the first experience could be repeated. We chose a local cruise, one that we could spend some days just kicking back and relaxing. Our major concern was the size of the ship and the number od passengers.
Before leaving we read a number of reviews, and many were contradictory, on the same trip people had conflicting reports - we thought that this would be a good chance to maybe clarify those reviews.
Boarding - although given a staggered boarding time (to reduce queues) we ended up boarding when we were reading. The process was very quick with a single check-in point for the cruise line (make sure you complete the online check-in process and nominate a credit card) and then through customs. Took about 20 mins (most of that was taken up by making new friends). The cabin was ready when we boarded (about 1.30) and we took some time exploring the ship and a late lunch a Windjammers. Only criticism about that process was we left Sydney in the dark and missed the fantastic view.
Queues - this was our biggest concern, with the number of people on board we were concerned about congestion - should not have worried too much. The only bad times were at the Windjammer during standard times, waiting for the main dining room to open, and getting an coffee at the promenade. Getting on and off the boat at ports was well managed, just expect some waiting for your group to be called. To avoid the lift congestion - take the stairs (helps work of those calories)!
Food - Main dining room and Portofino's was superb - nothing to complain there. Johnny Rockets is a burger bar - and that's what you get - American Burgers (fantastic shakes). Windjammer - well was a little disappointing, the food is American style, so not quite what we are used to in Oz, but is edible. Biggest issues was the amount of people trying to access it at the same time, so expect to hunt for a table and share.
Bars - Too many bars - not enough time. Viking is great for the view and to be able to chat with music in the background. The Pig and Whistle has great ambience and music - and lots of great beers to choose from. Our favourite was the Champagne Bar - excellent barman who worked overtime to serve. Each bar had its good points, depends on what you want. Just watch our for the red cordial stuff they add as flavour for drinks - a bit too sweet and sickly.
Service - the personnel we encountered were extremely friendly and helpful. Only concern is with English being a second language to most, and our aussie lingo, made it a bit hard to get across exactly what we wanted. Just be patient, they will help you out, and if they get it wrong, just ask and they will fix it. Best part of the company is there service!
Entertainment - pretty good overall, some good singers and shows, interesting comedians and hypnotist acts on this trip, and an excellent ice show (don't miss it). Only downside was the music in the bars was generally repeated each night, or over a couple of days - a good excuse to try different bars.
Tips - try to engage the staff in their own language if only to say hello and thankyou, it's only polite and gets a good response. Don't expect everything to be rushed, consider it to be Island time, just relax and be casual. Coffee and tea (free) sucked, take your own teabags or coffee (although they may have aussie stocks by now). Take a good book, and relax around the spa and pools.
We didn't attend many of the activities programmed, but there was plenty to do (or do nothing if you want) and we had a wonderful time - we will be back.