We cruised from Baltimore on Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014. Boarding the boat was fast and effortless with the quick and efficient staff of the port of Baltimore. I love the way they load up your luggage as you pull up to the port. Once on board we checked out the ship while waiting for the cabins to be ready. As we toured we noticed the very large number of seniors on board. We are no spring chickens but this was a surprise to see the number of over 70's on board. A great number of walkers, scooters made for long waits on elevators. We decided to use the steps the entire cruise and avoided the back up on the elevators. Seas were rough on the way out of Baltimore after day one. Winds were high enough to close deck 10 several times on the way out.
By Thursday we were in warm enough weather for sun bathing on deck 10.
The ship staff and Royal Caribbean tv immediately alerted to the strong possibility of Noro virus being on board. Efforts to reduce exposure were visible. Staff stood outside of the Windjammer and reminded passengers to use the Purell stations before entering. Same for Great Gatsby dining room. We were prepared and had traveled with Clorox wipes and antibacterial soap etc. We washed our hands immediately upon re entering the cabin and tried to avoid the public restrooms and opted for traveling back to our cabin instead. We wiped down our cabin everyday with the Clorox wipes in addition to it being cleaned by our attendant.
Dining was interesting. We dined in the main dining room half of the time and the other half preferred the windjammer. I am not a seafood fan and a great deal of the food in the Great Gatsby is seafood.
All staff in all of the dining options were friendly, helpful and attentive. My favorite was room service. Every night we pre ordered our breakfast and it was brought to the room right on time following a phone call to alert us to it's arrival.. We also ordered room service for dinner one night and it was delicious. Better flavor than the mass produced options in the dining areas. The fruit on board was my favorite. I was not a fan of the brand of yogurt they provided which was a disappointment.
As for the entertainment. I would say marginal at best. Not like what you get on the newer ships. My favorite was the piano player they brought in from Vegas. I felt like the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers were just above what you would expect in a high school show. Some were stand outs and others far from it. This was our opinion also for the entertainment in the Centrum. The Royal Caribbean big band and ball room dancing orchestras were great. This area was packed every afternoon and evening with seniors dancing the night away.
They loved to get out and dance and were fun to watch. One couple who were probably in their 50's obviously semi professional dancers were on the floor every single night for the ballroom dancing. twirling up a storm and making it difficult for the seniors to get around the floor. The "twirlers" were a show in themselves and knew it. Down to the matching outfits. Kind of off putting since they appeared to feel like it was their duty to entertain their fellow cruisers with their dancing expertise.........
Drinks of the day were fun, delicious and varied. No pressure to buy!!! Loved the light up cups. One disappointment is be careful drinks of the day with "take home" glasses are only available at the bars not the Palladium theatre. We found that out after ordering the drink of the day and receiving it in a plain glass.
I found the shopping areas to be quite lacking as compared to the newer ships. The staff in the general store, perfume store etc were very, very nice and helpful. But the merchandise selection was not great. A lot of over priced made in China goods. A Guess store opened up during our cruise it had a few good sales. The Liquor store was nice but the sundries were over priced. A bag of pretzels were 5.00. The liquor was not a bad price but very limited choice.
Cruise directors Ricky and Daryl were fun and entertaining. They could really get the room hopping.
The Belly Flop contest for men on the pool deck on the return trip was very entertaining. FYI if you are an adventurous type be sure to check out the Quest game held night before last in the South Pacific Lounge at 10:45. Adults only. Spoiler.....a lot of the men playing end up wearing quite a large amount of women's clothing........it can get quite carried away......
The new reggae band on board were very, very good and entertained on the pool deck every afternoon.
I was disappointed by the lack of a pop corn machine on board. In addition it would be great if they offered more healthful snack choices in the afternoon at tea time. Bags of trail mix, dried fruits or nuts would be preferred by many travelers.
It would also be nice if they had a water station where you could purchase bottles of water other than the higher priced Evian to take back to your stateroom or enjoy on the deck or take on shore. You really had to hunt water down in the Windjammer and find an attendant to get it out from a locked cooler if you wanted to buy it. Regular glasses of water are available all of the time the windjammer is open but I prefer the bottled type.
Water was provided (for a charge) for Labadee where it was going to be 95 degrees the day we arrived.
We ended up with a total of 3 formal nights. We only participated in two.
Our cruise experience was great. I would do it again. I found Royal Caribbean to be very attentive.
Staff were friendly and courteous.
If we needed it we were provided with it.
Negatives.......the pictures taken were high priced and not always with a good back ground. As in the ports.
Who would want a picture with a chain link fence behind you?
Entertainment/ shows could be better and of a more professional variety all the way around. I am not a fan of magicians nor jugglers.
Food flavor was of the mass produced variety. Some being more tasty than expected. Spaghetti they could not get right. The roasted chicken was great. The spinach and cheese stuffed shells was also very tasty. Mashed potatoes and the carrots were a favorite of mine. My favorite bread offered was the pumpkin roll. I had one everyday. I am not a big meat eater so trying many of the salads offered was more to my liking. Desserts were plentiful. Some were surprisingly bland and others were good. Fruit was always a good choice. Cookies of the day were good. Sugar less selections were plentiful.
Breakfasts were my favorite in the windjammer. Lunch was more like dinner and I am not that kind of eater. Hamburgers made fresh were much better than the ones on the buffet. Bags of chips or pretzels would have been nice. The hot dogs in the Park Café were better than the hamburgers on the buffet.
I was a big fan of the crispy, light fries.
Overall I was very pleased with the entire trip. I would have preferred an additional port of call rather than the slow crawl home. The 12 day cruise does offer an additional port and I think we will try that next time.
It was a great 10 days and a fantastic break from the cold weather at home. Can't wait until next time.
Question....anyone else hear the jolt at around 1:30 - 2 am the night of return to Baltimore, 2/28 ? Timing put us close to Bay Bridge. Damage was visible on deck 10 in the morning, which was promptly closed off to public. Pipes were also leaking from deck 10 above the automatic deck doors into the Windjammer entry. It was so cold the water was icing up on the decking.
Looks like they had quite the mess to deal with before the next cruise scheduled to leave at 4 pm. We were on deck 7 and the noise was quite loud. Anyone else hear or see it?