I was going to wait a bit to post my review but after reading so many negative reviews about this ship/service, etc, I had to chime in! I (32) travelled with my wife and 19 month old daughter and drove in from Orlando on embarkation day after spending a few days at Disney. We are from Sacramento, CA. We had late seating and were in a E1 Category Balcony Stateroom.
My wife and I are frequent cruisers and are Platinum with Royal. I've been on about 12 cruises, my wife about 4, and it was my daughter's first.
Service- Just AMAZING. I'm not sure if it was because we were travelling with a cute little toddler or what but anything we needed at anytime, the crew was there to help. I know that a crew is a good one when they serve you with a smile and do anything they can to help you at the buffet, where there is little/no tipping possibility and the crew in this area was great. Our stateroom steward (Alfred) was Johnny on the Spot at all times, he just had phenomenal timing More
and kept our room spotless despite there being so little room to move around with a Pack and Play in the middle of the room.
Food- I thought the food in the buffet and dining room was just great. As always a ton of variety and breakfast especially was really nice in the buffet. The Park Café in the Solarium served a really nice salad bar and a variety of sandwiches. I wished all ships offered something like this. Only downside is that there is no pizzeria (outside of the pizza in the windjammer which is nothing special). A usual the desserts are nothing to write home about but that seems to be standard on the cruises I've been on. We didn't eat in any of the specialty restaurants. I'm not one to pay more for food when there are plentiful free options available.
Room- The room was ok. Nothing special. One of the smaller balcony rooms I've had but it was an E1 category and there was a Pack and Play eating up any available space. Bathroom and balcony was standard cruise size, nothing notable. I would get an E2 or bigger next time to have SOME room to move around with a giant stroller and Pack and Play.
Entertainment- We went to two of the Production Shows. Both were what you'd expect from a 5 day cruise. If you go expecting a Vegas type show or one on a 15 day Princess cruise through the Mediterranean you will be disappointed. If you go expecting good music, good dancing, and a fun environment, you will be pleased. My 19 month old daughter liked it, take that for what it's worth.
Activities: We didn't participate in much since we had our little one so I can't comment here. We did participate in some of the toddler activities and I was so happy to have the Royal Tots program. It was great that you could rent bags of toys to bring back to the room and that they had that area for toddlers. The two women in there (Patty and Blondie) were so sweet with the children and it was clear that they were there for more than to just be babysitters. They enjoyed teaching the children and participating in activities with them. My wife and I both enjoyed the fitness area and found that it had everything you would want to not get too far off your workout regimen. May want to bring a wet suit or something for any kids going in the kids pool. That was the COLDEST water I've ever felt, I mean COLDEST!!! Daughter came out shivering.
Ports: Key West and Cozumel. Realistically, are you really going on a 5 day cruise because of where you're going? If so, well, I'd personally find another itinerary. If you're not, and I'd presume you're not if you're looking at a 5 day cruise, then these two stops are fine. Both are docked so you don't have to worry about tenders.
Key West- Purchased a ship shore excursion- We did the bike tour and thought it was totally worth it. At 39 a person for a guided tour of the city, I thought it was a great deal. They even honored a special request (a seat for our little girl) just the night before the tour. It was a great way to see the little "island". I feel like I've seen it all and have no need to go back. Feels like a small Caribbean island. Kind of dirty and beachy with a luxurious side. Perfect 6 hour stop on a cruise ship!
Cozumel- Purchased a ship shore excursion. We would've just taken a cab to a beach but with everything I've read about seatbelts, etc and travelling with our daughter, I didn't want to risk it. We booked the Playa Mia beach break. In my opinion it is completely overpriced. The food was ok and the all-inclusive bar was nothing special. The alcohol was VERY well (well in Mexico, not well in US), they had one beer on tap, and served in 8-10 oz plastic cups. It would've been amazing if I was still in college but frankly, I just don't think no matter how much you drink it's worth it. We were asked probably 10 times if we wanted massages, the chaise lounges had to be some of the most uncomfortable. If this is the best Cozumel has to offer, well then, it may be better to stay on the ship.
Overall, this was a perfect trip for us. The ship is just beautiful and it's clear that the work they did in the dry dock this year paid off. The sports court, rock climbing wall, Kids/Toddlers area, etc all were really great looking. I thought the ship was laid out well and easy to get from place to place. I couldn't have been happier with our experience and I will definitely be back on Royal. Hope this helps you in your decision. Less
Brilliance of the Seas Cruises to the Western Caribbean