This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean and the first cruise for my daughter and son-in-law (late 20's). It was the fourth for my husband and I (very late 50's).
STATEROOM: Our balcony stateroom was lovely. The room had plenty of storage for us and had a small couch. I think it was the best designed stateroom we've had to date. It felt quite spacious considering we were on a ship. (It helps when you keep everything tidy.) The balcony was totally covered, which we like. The TV was old but the ship is getting flat screens when it's being refurbished in the spring. Karen, our stateroom attendant was wonderful. She kept our room clean and made us three towel animals. Although I know it costs more, I think you really would miss out if you didn't at least have a window view of the ocean.
LIBRARY: We were located right next to the very comfortable library. It had leather couches and was well lit and relatively quiet. Oh, and it had books. I lean towards the area where guests swap books but, with the advent of Kindle, there weren't all that many to choose from.
SHIP: Although the ship is going in for a redo I found it clean and well kept. It may be a little tired around the edges but you really have to look to see it. I thought it was one of the nicest ships we've been on. I hope they don't take the charm away when they redo it. I loved most of the decor.
SERVICE: With a few exceptions I found the service everywhere excellent.
ENTERTAINMENT: The entertainment was good, not great, but good. The first ice show we saw was great. The second was not as good because the theme made no sense. The singers were good. We missed the comedian the last night due to the tragedy of someone jumping overboard. Please don't.
GUESTS: It was Christmas which meant there were tons of children (700+ I believe) but it didn't feel overwhelming. The crowd was very mixed, unlike Princess and Celebrity which has a MUCH older crowd.
ACTIVITIES: There were lots of activities with which to occupy yourself but I don't rock climb, swim or do anything like that so I can't comment on those activities except to say they were available. The same goes for the children's activities. This is why we picked this line over Princess and Celebrity. In the end, our daughter and son-in-law only used the pool and games room. We could have taken them on Holland America and they would have fit in perfectly.
Re: Ping-pong - I'm not sure why they had the tables out in the open since it made it much too windy to play. Perhaps they wanted to make it more challenging.
CRUISE DIRECTOR: The cruise director, Drew Divine, was exceptional. The tone of the ship was upbeat and energetic due to him.
FOOD: My main complaint was the food. The roast beef and steak in the dining room was terrible and I couldn't finish them. The Windjammer's food was better with more variety. There were a lot of "no-sugar" desserts if you like that, which I don't. There was a yoghurt bar by the pool but it was only open from 12-6pm which I thought was ridiculous because it was VERY popular and the pool is open very late. The only place you could get free food most nights was a small venue on the promenade. The Windjammer closed at 9pm, earlier than Princess and Celebrity even though those ships close down their activities much earlier. I found that very annoying. (We did not eat anywhere you needed to pay extra since I find that concept really annoying. We almost went to Johnny Rockets for hamburgers for the "kids" with a $5 surcharge but they decided they didn't want to go. I have no idea why hamburgers and milkshakes require a surcharge.) You could always order food to your room but that's not my cup of tea. :)
PROMENADE: The promenade was well used (and crowded) but for the most part it consisted of jewellery stores and bars. It would have been nice to have more variety like books and magazines, etc. and more than one free place to have a snack. The ship really pushed the jewellery! (I prefer to support the island economies.)
BARS: There were TONS of bars.
DANCING: I was surprised that there were very few places to dance, unless you were a night owl, which I'm not.
EXCURSIONS: We had booked a number of excursions ahead of time, all but one of which was cancelled, which was odd. My husband and I took an impromptu island tour on one of the islands. It was half the price of an excursion. I think it was an Curacao.
The butterfly farm in Aruba was very disappointing. It was very small and they don't breed the butterflies. They get females in once a week. I thought it was very overpriced at $12/person.
My daughter LOVED the sea lion excursion which also had parrots. I didn't go.