Embarkation was smooth and fairly fast. RC has this down very well. Once on our cruise we were able to walk straight to our room. We walked on board at 1PM. The ship is beautiful and there were lots of things for any age to do.
FOOD: This was our first cruise with RC as we have always cruised with Carnival before and have been told we would notice a big difference. Well we did. Except for our steward and our waiter/waitress at Johnny Rockets and Chops... the service was terrible. Food orders were wrong for everyone at our table in MDR and the bar staff seemed to wish we never ordered any drinks even though we were good tippers. The food in the windjammer had a lot to be desired. Another thing Carnival beat them on was food. The Mystery Dinner Theater show was good but the amount of food you get for the price makes it not worth the money at all. You do not get to order off of the Portofino menu.
ENTERTAINMENT: This is RC's strong point and they do have Carnival beat in this category. The ice show, variety shows, magician, and acrobats were all wonderful. The comedian was the only bad show. They also said it was an R rated show. The worse language he used was poop. Make sure you reserve tickets to the ice show online or once you get on board as there are limited seats. For some reason, people thought that using electronic cigarettes was okay in the entertainment venues, which was annoying to those of who did not like the odor. We loved playing trivia in the Schooner Bar and watching movies on the outdoor screen when we were tired.
COCOCAY: We had a great time swimming and snorkeling. You can shop, swim, play at the aquapark. We never felt crowded and had a great time in the water all day. The lunch seemed late because we used ship time for planning for our lunch and they use island time for the lunch. So once you knew when to expect lunch it was fine. It was hamburgers, hot dogs etc. You can rent floating mats or snorkel gear if you don't take your own. This was a great stop.
St. Thomas: We did the helmet dive on this port. The van ride over was disappointing because the driver did not talk about the island at all and yet when we arrived, he said aren't you going to tip your driver? Once we got there we were just handed a map of the park and that was all. It is a large park so we found where we were suppose to be and were told to sit down for instructions. Then we were told we would have to wait as there was another group going. Then we were told to check out the park and come back later. We had just missed all the feeding of the other animals. We did not have enough time to wander around after the confusion. Once we were in the water it was cloudy from earlier rain and we did not see as much as we had wanted. The guides did find some small creatures for us to see and hold. It was nice for me since I would have never guessed I would have walked on the ocean floor. They do take pictures and you can buy the thumb drive that has pictures of you and everyone else in your group. We did some shopping afterwards but the prices are the worse of any of the islands we had been too.
St. Maarten/St. Martin: We enjoyed this trip. We booked our excursion for the Rhino Rider off their website so we could go further on our excursion. The excursion would have been great had it been a normal day. It was windy and we had no business being out on the water. The waves were too much and the other people in our group did not abide by the rules and the guides did not seem to care. So they were cutting people off and stopping and starting in front of you. They made it dangerous for all. And the snorkeling was hard due to the currents. ( we have a boat and love to go fast so we were not being timid)
The shopping was better, although the attitude of some shop employees was not very friendly, while others were very friendly.
Pictures: We purchased a disk with our pictures and when we got home and put the disk in, we were told it had a virus. I called RC and they gave me another number to call. After 2 days I did reach someone and they were aware of the problem and sent me a new disk that arrived a week later.
Disembark: This was so smooth. We were off the ship, through customs with our luggage, on shuttle to Radisson and in our car on the road home by 8:30. I think it was all a total of 30 minutes or less.
Overall this is a great ship and we did prebook another cruise but they need to have some serious conversations with their employees about service. And some variety at buffet would be nice. I would definitely go on this ship again.