This was the first cruise as a family for my husband, our two boys (10 & 8) and myself. We traveled with my in-laws who have cruised many times before. Because this was a gift from our in-laws, I wasn't involved in some of the details for the trip so had I booked it myself, I may not have been surprised at a few things as a rookie cruiser. I now realize that you need to buy drink packages: beer/wine, pop, juice and even water packages. I was glad I brought water bottles with wide openings so I could go to the buffet area and fill up my bottles with glasses of ice water. I understand it's for sanitary reasons that they don't have stations to fill your own water but they manage to have stations to fill your cup for pop so it would be nice to have one for water. Just those extras that are all over the ship that you need to pay for: fresh squeezed orange juice, select restaurants, drinks (other than some juices and water at the restaurants) photos etc. Now I know for next time and it definitely didn't ruin our trip - we are just used to all-inclusives where everything is included! I got a little motion sick at the beginning but was grateful for the RCC staff who talked with me when this trip was being booked and helped me understand that getting a cabin mid-ship can help with motion sickness and also going on a Western Caribbean route can also be less rough than and Eastern route (I think I would book through RCC and no other site or agent when we go on our next cruise). I was ok by day 3. I had a pedicure which was less than satisfactory (not clean, no colour choice and rushed b/c they were late) but had a wonderful massage experience at the end of the week. I'm not sure we ever got used to how windy it was but that's what cruises are like! Those are our only slightly negative comments.
Other than that, we loved the ship. It was clean, the staff were super friendly and helpful, the food was great, the rooms were nice and we really enjoyed our time. Preety and Leslie were amazing at every dinner time - such great, friendly service and they knew us so well that by day two they already had our preferences memorized!!! Georgia was fantastic with our room - she knew when we were coming and going and always managed to have our room looking clean and bright for when we came back. The staff on the rock wall and wave simulator were amazing with our kids - helping them learn and encouraging them each time. The amenities on the ship are outstanding: rock wall, flow-rider, mini-golf, ice rink, many pools, kids areas, arcades, shops, spa, track, etc. We saw a couple of shows that were good but didn't really hit up much of the other entertainment options (there were LOTS of options) The getting on and off the ship at the beginning and the end of the cruise as well as for every port was so fast and organized!!! EX: at Cozumel, there were two RCC ships sharing one dock and with all those people getting back on BOTH ships, there was no line!! A little ways away, there was one Carnival ship at it's own dock and the line up was as long as the ship of people waiting to get back on. The ship's layout was nice and it was easy to figure your way around.
CABINS: 8587/8589 (Promenade Stateroom) The cabins are small when you compare them to a hotel room but I'm learning that's what they are all like. We had a room beside our boys with a door that joined the two rooms - it was so nice that the door didn't lock from either side but that it was pretty sound proof. We must have been by a vent or something b/c it always sounded like a prairie summer storm - on the flip side, this could have been the reason that the rooms were so sound proof!! We could hardly hear that there was anyone else on the ship when we were in our rooms. Good amount of room for clothes and stuff in the room. We all found it comfortable to relax in. Only one night, the parade on the promenade was loud enough to hear and kept me awake a bit. It was nice to see the promenade but next time I'd be fine with an interior room too.
All in all, we really enjoyed our first cruise and learned some valuable cruising lessons that will help our next cruise be even more enjoyable. It's hard to think outside of RCC now...