After 11 cruises (Carnival-never again, Holland America, and Princess) this being our 4th Royal Caribbean (RCI) cruise I thought I would start reviewing them and help others have a trip of a lifetime. I still prefer RCI over any of the other 4 brands I've been on by far and planning to stick to RCI for future cruises. The value, service, boat features, food and entertainment are second to none for the price you pay you can't get a better time (if you haven't cruised before DO IT!!). The staff works crazy long hours and extremely hard and always with a smile on there faces. They always do there best to make you feel welcomed. Whether it's your room attendant asking how your day is or your wait staff remembering your names and how you like your coffee. If you have complaints about a cruise you really should reevaluate your standards of a vacation. What more can you ask for? Your waited on hand and foot, no need to make your bed, do dishes, cook, clean, no worries in the world but what to eat or drink next while the staff work 12+ hours daily. The hard work does not go unnoticed that's why we always give extra gratuity because even a little bit more goes a long way for them. This is not just the staff you see too. Ok on to the review but first I am going to give my honest opinion and by no means do I have any complaints just tips for improvements and what to expect on the ship/itinerary.
Day 1 of 7 night cruise to Bermuda leaving Bayonne, NJ:
-This was our first time leaving out of NJ and compared to other terminals we left out of in Florida this was a little chaotic but manageable. We drove to NJ then took cab to terminal arrived around 11:15 on boat a little after 12 and room ready by 1pm. It was nice to have priority boarding for gold status and we got on a bus to the ship within 15 minutes. The waiting room had bathrooms, coffee, cookies and of course photographers for your welcome aboard picture.
We headed up to the windjammer for lunch, which as expected was packed because everyone is hungry and ready to eat after a long travel day already. The windjammer was difficult to find seating and the lunch selections were alright for first day. After we ate we of course got soft serve ice cream on the top deck (2 machines self serve). We then toured the ship, with plenty to do and see on this 3,000+ Passenger ship. Many great bars (pub, sports bar, piano bar, champagne bar, nightclub, cigar bar and others) to have a drink in and people watch, relax, or let loose. The royal promenade was really nice with typical souvenir shopping and some specialty stores. The ice rink, theaters, and casino were nice and spacious. Up in the lido top deck were the pools and hot tubs. Plenty of room to lay out and enjoy the sun. One thing we didn't like was there was a smoking section by the pools on one side and we happened to walk through that a couple times until realizing it's better to walk on other side to avoid. We both thought it shouldn't have been there and/or too big of a section. We always go to the spa for the spa raffle where they give away a handful of prizes right after sailing (didn't win but it's always worth the shot). Dinner and the dining room were great. As always the wait staff were great. They were very attentive and friendly. We prefer a set time to have dinner to plan our day, but if you like flexibility you can do my time dining and make different time reservations each day. We also like to go to all the shows, parades, and games to get full experience of the cruise whether it's cheesy or not. The welcome aboard show was short and sweet but nice to get to know your cruise director and entertainers. The welcome aboard parade on the royal promenade was cheesy but still were entertained by it. Our stateroom is same as always what we expected (small) but had plenty of room for 2 with closet and drawer space. The rooms could use an update but it's a CRUISE you shouldn't be in your room except to change, shower, and sleep!
Day 2 & 3: at sea
-Started the day off by ordering room service as a wake up call then head to the gym. One thing we did to help us stay active besides work out was to take the stairs everywhere we went. Its pretty comical to see some people who are very capable of taking the stairs take the elevator one floor. The gym was decent size with plenty of cardio equipment and lifting machines/dumbbells. Some machines were a little worn and could use some updating. A nice locker room with a steam room and sauna, minus the naked guy doing stretches in the steam room it was good, unless that's what you like. After the gym we hit up the windjammer for breakfast. They had a lot of selections for breakfast. I love the fresh fruit and the omelet stations. Rest of day relaxed in the hot tubs and pools and went to the ice skating show. The ice skating show was phenomenal. The talent level was great especially on such a smaller surface. Another don't miss is the captains reception. Free champagne for an hour! Get there early because people are crazy when it comes to free stuff. I feel bad for some of the servers getting hounded like there giving away money as soon as they come out with a tray of champagne. The headline show was good with the RCI singer and dancers. RCI has a great "frequent floaters" crown and anchor program. They really make you feel welcomed back with a party and special perks.
Days 4/5/6: Bermuda
-The first day in Bermuda we took the ferry to Hamilton then a bus to horseshoe bay beach (bus #7). We opted not to get the unlimited bus/ferry tickets ($15/1 day, $25/2, $35/3) because we knew we weren't going to be hopping around much. It is a good deal if you plan on doing a lot of different site seeing and don't want to spend a lot of money on a cab. Hamilton had some decent stores but the city from what we saw wasn't amazing. Horseshoe bay beach was beautiful. It was very clean and really spongy soft sand. A lot of cool cliffs you can climb and get great views and pictures at the beach. One thing to note though is if you take the public bus to horseshoe beach it is about a 500ft walk downhill to the beach and back up when done. You can take their shuttle they offer for $1 down and $2 up per person but we didn't mind the walk. There is a beach snack shop (over priced) with rentals, snacks, bathrooms, showers and wifi. We took a walk down the beach to check out the other secluded beaches/inlets. If you walk left (looking at the water) you can find secluded beaches/inlets and a nice little hike. The water was warm and waves were fun to swim in at horseshoe beach. We took the bus back to the ship and the bus ride alone was an excursion. The driver was crazy! Flying around corners on these narrow roads.
The next day we got up early and took the first ferry to St. George. It took about 45 minutes each way. Once we got there we walked downtown a little and went into some of there shops. They also have decent shopping there and nice historical area in the town square. We walked up the street to the unfinished church, which was pretty to see. Then walked about 10-15 minutes, sign said 0.8km to tobacco beach. The beach was small and sand was rough. The water was shallow and a lot of big rocks to snorkel around. We snorkeled for a little while and hung out on beach most of day. There is a snack shop and restrooms there too.
If my wife and I come back I think we would rent scooters and tour the city. A lot of people did that as well as either rented bikes or maybe even brought their own on.
The last half-day we walked around the royal dockyard. We went thru there shops and stopped by Snorkel Park. Snorkel Park was a nice little beach right by the boat to check out if you didn't want to take a bus to horseshoe.
At night we had back-to-back nights of amazing entertainment. RCI really has second to none entertainment. The headliner shows were phenomenal as well as there 70s them party and top deck Halloween party and midnight buffet.
Days 6/7: at sea
-The week was already coming to an end as soon as it started. The 7 days cruises fly by. I think next time my wife and I will take a 9/10-day cruise. The last 2 days were fun filled with plenty of activities all day. The whole cruise was a fantastic time and we can't wait to book our next one. The staff works so hard and always are smiling. The only complaint I had was the amount of crop dusters that were on the ship.
I overheard a fellow cruiser say, "a bad cruise is still a good cruise" and so true. I can't say it enough that cruising is the best vacation you can have for the food, entertainment, fun, service and more!
Leaving the ship:
If you can take your time and be one of last to leave. People are crazy when it comes to trying to leave. You have to take a bus to the terminal (2 minute ride) but people are so eager to get on and were a little pushy. So we recommend taking your time and schedule later flight if you can or drive.
-The cruise couple
A & S