Our Waiter, Assistant Waiter and Cabin steward all left an unfortunate first impression, but all three managed to turn it around and now we consider them one of the best team we’ve had.
Embarkation - Considering the size of Port Everglades Cruise Port, our embarkation went reasonably smooth.
Room - JS 9234 - Nice big room! Another cut back, no pen and paper.Royal Caribbean is definitely moving to a more paperless method, but we were still buried under spa, shop and drink ad leaflets. I requested a tempurpedic pillow via a travel agent and again on board, and was told it wasn’t available to Junior Suites. Liked the wider bed. I’m happy all information was on the interactive television. Another annoying cutback, only two glasses in the stateroom instead of four, when we’re used to getting one for drinking beverages and one for our metamucil. Unfortunately, no more Fox News station on television.
Shops on Board - Needed a battery for my watch, but neither the ship’s stores or their affiliated shops on shore would sell us one. They did offer to sell us a whole new watch, which would have cost more than the replacement battery. Many posters at cruise critic think the stores shouldn’t be required to stock batteries, but still it makes me wonder, no fresh batteries on watches sold on board?
Main Dining Room - Each night started with the Assistant Waiter WARM BREAD processional to the sound of “Hot Hot Hot.” Bread variety had shrunk, but they still had my favorite, sourdough. The menu featured one ingredient that explained the origin and a featured recipe using that ingredient. Coffee had improved, were told they changed from Seattle’s Best to a German brand. Dining room was noisy even by the window!
Sorentos - O,K. pizza, and the only eating venue close to us! Great empanadas.
Ice show - The violinist and the ice show were the best we’ve seen. The violinist made it special for us.
Diamond Lounge and overflow (Viking Crown Lounge) was standing room only each night we tried to go. When you have a large number of Diamonds and up on board, it makes more sense to load drink coupons on our cruise cards. We sat briefly with a couple who were unhappy about being told leave since they did not qualify for the Diamond lounge.
Specialty Dining - Quite nice and quiet!
We qualified for the 140 point Commemorative Gift but didn’t receive it. Our Diamond Concierge said that we should get it on our next cruise, but the Crown and Anchor website said we should have received it on this sailing. Jason at the Crown and Anchor phone support also said it should have been delivered to our stateroom if we didn’t attend the Welcome Back event. Still haven’t received our 140 point Commemorative Gift. As of posting this, we still haven’t received our 140-cruise point gift.
Shore Excursions - Wore insect repellant on all shore excursions, and good thing too.
St. Maartens - Bernards Tours - Excellent overview of island. Aisle between seats ended being a tight squeeze for overweight people. Just learned of a chikungunya virus outbreak started while we were there, as of 1/15/13 they have 200 cases. (Now they tell us!) But we applied bug spray daily. Stop trips to St. Maartens until island is safe. Last fall, we had a bug hitchhike on our balcony from Monterey all the way to Catalina Island. Could have been so much worse w/ bugs carrying chikungunya or maleria.
St. Kitts - Scenic Train Ride - Excellent and fun! Wonderful beverages, especially the Piña Coladas, and loved the Minstrels.
Puerto Rico - Stayed on Ship
Labadee - Stayed on ship on advice of doctor due to CDC malaria (several months now) warning High Risk for US Citizens in Haiti especially Port Labadee. The life span for a mosquito is a week to several months, so your ships can transport them just about anywhere! Stop trips to Labadee until CDC stops saying a high malaria risk for Haiti Including Port Labadee!
Cruise Critic Meet and Greet. The Royal Staff was late arriving, announced the drawing prizes and left. No speeches. Complimentary gift distribution handled well. They do this each cruise, so they should have a good system but not every ship handles this as well as Independence.