Precruise: We (husband 42, wife 45 & son 16) flew in the night before like normal to be well rested to enjoy the first day on the ship. The flight down had multiple delays due to storms in the upper midwest but we got into FLL around 12:30am Saturday. We got out our bags and called Crowne Plaza for a shuttle. Within minutes, our shuttle was there and shortly after checked in without any problems and off to our room to try and get some rest. The hotel couldn't of been any closer to the port, great location and will stay there whenever sailing out of Fort Lauderdale.
Embark: I agree with everything on these boards about the process. We arrived shortly after 11:00 and were eating lunch in Giavanni's Table by noon.
Cruise: The cruise, all in all, was a great vacation. There are some minor items we noticed and disliked but in no way did it stop us from having another great trip on Royal Caribbean. There is so much to do on this ship that it's impossible to squeeze it all in within a 7 day cruise. By the second day, we seldom saw our son except for dinner, ports or first thing in the morning due to all the fun he was having with the teen program, friends he made on the ship, etc. MDR food was ok, had some real good courses and some not so good. The service was great and we enjoyed meeting the people we sat with. We ended up all meeting before each dinner just so we could enjoy another meal together. On Tuesday, we ate at Chops since in port with an excursion we knew it would be a late dinner so made reservations ahead of the cruise. It was well worth it, the food and service was great. We also ate lunch at Giavanni's Table the first day and enjoyed so much we went back on the last day just to do it again.
It wouldn't be a fair review if we didn't list the couple items we didn't care for or notices. They are minor and you will still have a great time just wanted to put them out there.
1. We all did the drink package on this cruise (adults had the premium package and son the royal refreshment package). The drinks were great when you could get one. The bartenders were extremely slow on this ship for the most part. The only ones we found to be like other cruises that we sailed on were in the casino and the Park Cafe. It was almost like RCCL got there money for the drinks so lets make the cruisers walk to the bar to get them. The amount of waiters taking drink orders were less than half of any other ship.
2. The pool deck layout left alot to be desired. It was very chopped up. Each area was nice but we enjoy the more traditional layout, where you can get a chair a deck up and watch all the fun activities. Which on this ship seemed to not be at the pool at all, you have to go to the Aquatheater if you wanted to see them.
We enjoy relaxing and being involved not having to pack up and go see what has always been pool side fun and games.
3. Crown and Anchor Welcome Back Party was done during the morning hours. We enjoyed the party but just seemed like something was off with everyone sitting around in swimsuits and shorts. There were quite a few people talking about the time and place for the event.
All in all, it was a great cruise and family vacation. At no point during our cruise did you realize that there were 6000 guest on board. It just never felt crowded. All the different areas on the ship were well maintained and clean. All the hand cleaners located throughout the ship was a great idea and hats off to RCCL about taking this serious.
Quick notes on the ports:
Nassau - Its never been one of our favorite stops but did get off the boat for an hour or two so our son could say he was there.
St. Thomas - We did the 5 Star Island Tour from RCCL and had a great time exploring the island again.
St. Maarten - This is our favorite island in the Carribean. We try and get here at least once a year we enjoy it so much.