I've been on two previous cruises, with Carnival. Friends had recommended Royal Caribbean and said that once I cruised with RCI, I would never go back to Carnival. Well, they were wrong. I will go back to Carnival in a heartbeat, and will probably never cruise with RCI again.
Our recent cruise on The Brillance of the Seas was a huge disappointment, for several reasons. One, there was a very large group of "Spring breakers" on the ship with us. Yes, I know that RCI has no control over that, but they certainly could have and should have taken control over the wild behavior of the group. They literally took over the lido deck every day/evening. They were loud, vulgar, disrespectful, and extremely drunk at all times. There was a definite presence of "Pool Patrol" (RCI staff) around the area, but they did nothing to control the annoying antics of the group, other than watch. The group even took over the tender which we had the bad fortune of sharing with them. With the language, behavior etc., I felt horrible for the families with young children....they had no choice but to sit there and listen/watch the ridiculous behavior.
We received horrible service from the wait staff that circled the pool area. At times, we were totally ignored and had to squeeze our way through large groups of the Spring Breakers to try to access the bar, not comfortable at all. We did not see any of the wonderfully cheerful attitudes from the staff that we had grown accustomed to on Carnival.
Carnival also provided a lot of little things that made sailing with them so enjoyable....nightly towel animal (RCI provided only two on a five night cruise), nightly turn down service with mints on the pillow, complimentary bath robes in the state rooms to enjoy during your sail, and even a little basket of "gifts" in the bathroom, that was refilled each morning (nose strips, chocolates, lotions, etc.) RCI provided none of these "little things".
We bought the premium beverage package, which was supposed to include tax and gratuities. On more than one occasion, once we received our drinks, we were handed the slip for our signature.....this was a blatant attempt to get an additional tip....which I probably would have done if I had in fact received excellent service, which I did not. Also included in the beverage package, was supposed to be bottled water. Trying to find the bottled water was truly a challenge....for the first couple of days, the bars were "out of" the water that was included in the package, but did have an ample supply of the larger bottles (not included in the package) if we wanted to pay for it. What????
Also, the Room Service menu on Carnival was huge, with several options to choose from. The room Service menu on RCI was 1/2 page, with very little options.
We were told when we made our reservations (several months in advance) that we would be put in adjoining rooms with another couple (at our request) and that the divider would be removed from the balcony (again, at our request). Once aboard the ship, we were told that was not possible.
Perhaps this sailing was out of the ordinary, and we just had the misfortune of experiencing so much of the "bad" stuff, but it is hard for me to believe.
The ship itself is beautiful with plenty of activities, and the two excursions we went on were FANTASTIC!