As RCCL says: “Get out there.” Their biggest and newest really is a crowd pleaser, but with such size comes a few minor problems.
The only real “line” was boarding the ship. The 4000+ people pushed Miami’s cruise terminal G to the limit. At 1:30, the boarding line was way beyond the endless snaking barrier straps so that those waiting to check in had to cross those in the boarding line. It was a cross between a managed mess and organized chaos, but it progressed fairly quickly once boarding started. Once on board, there were too few giving directions and everyone was more or less on their own. And closed fire doors blocked access to cabins until 3:00.
Baggage delivery seemed to be better than most ships, with only a few having to wait to around late-seating dinner for their luggage.
The cabins are status quo with one exception: the beds. Great pillow top mattresses and outstanding linens made for truly sweet dreams.
Food was pretty standard for RCCL. The buffets were well organized and offered lots of variety. Service was outstanding in the dining rooms; though the food was nothing to write home about. (I did, however, write home about the meal we had in Chops). Now, the head waiters and assistant waiters take care of wine service, which is nice.
The biggest and most positive change I noticed was the entertainment. The sets, lighting, and technological advancements made for some truly outstanding shows and a few jaw-dropping “wow” moments. Unfortunately, there were no “headliner” appearances, but I thoroughly enjoyed all the shows as being different, fresh and professional. Not quite Cirque du Soleil, but headed that way.
The public areas were extremely well done and creatively used. The Royal Promenade was a stunning place to hang out; the Flow Rider was popular day and night, and the Ice Show was top notch and used for several other fun events and parties. The outdoor pool decks were crowded, and selfish passengers “reserved” their personal all-day-deck-chairs with towels, books, and beach bags by 9 a.m. Grrrrr. The solarium is not nearly as lush on this ship as it is on others, and the adults-only policy was ignored by more selfish passengers and teenagers in the hot tubs.
The ship docked early in Miami for departure but was delayed significantly by an INS computer problem. Those with non-US passports were delayed considerably.
Speaking of non-US passports, one of the biggest plusses on a ship this large is the increased diversity of passengers. It was a true and enjoyable melting pot that made for an interesting mix at one big party. Bring on the Genesis class ships!