This was my 5th cruise, 1st on RCI all others have been with Carnival.
We flew into FLL the day before the ship left & stayed at Yankee Trader Sheraton Hotel. Hotel was fine.... no complaints there. Took a cab to the port ($20) with tip and were there within a few minutes. (Arrived at port around 10:30AM)
Embarkation was very easy... we had to wait for the cruisers from the previous cruise debark but once they were off the ship they started embarking us right away.... we were on the ship and waiting for the Windjammer to open by 11:30. (Windjammer opened at 12PM) Ate lunch (good) and went to explore the ship and find our dining assignment. The ship was much more elegant than any of the Carnival ships I have been on. The muster drill took alot longer than any I have experienced before..... the captain and cruise director seemed to talk forever and then repeated what they said in several different languages.
Day Two- Key West We left the ship around 8AM and that was a mistake as most of the stores did not open until 9 or 10AM. We walked Duval Street and waited for some shops to open bought some souvenirs and headed back to the ship. One of the shops was very discouraging because the cashier was more interested in getting a girls phone # than selling items in the store but I wanted what I had so I had to wait several minutes before he rang me up. Besides that Key West was OK..... been there done that several times!!! The ship docked right near Mallory Square so that was very convenient. This was formal night.
Day Three- Cozumel I love Cozumel! The ship was a little late pulling in so the captain extended the stay by 30 minutes. We waited for about an hour and a half after the ship docked to let the lines die down and got right off the ship. When we got through the stores and to where the taxis were the line was rather long to catch a taxi. It did move quick though and we were in a cab in about 20 minutes. We took the cab downtown as we wanted to go shopping. We were let out in the main part of downtown and started exploring. Went to a few shops then found a bar serving $1 Coronas (there were a few of them) As it turns out, the bar we went to had no power but we stayed for about 2 hours talking to the owner as he was very nice and from Kentucky if you can believe that! Anyway by the end of our visit with him he was giving us shots of tequila on the house so that was fun! We were still in shopping mode so we continued shopping then caught a cab to go back near the ship. When we got to the shops near the ship I noticed that the prices were the same as they were in town for most items which surprised me. Next time I go to Cozumel I may skip going downtown just to shop since most of the prices near the ship were the same as downtown. After we shopped a little we went to Senor Frogs which was right in front of where the ship was docked. We had a good time there and then headed to the ship.
Day Four- Sea Day Spent most of the time in The Solarium. The Solarium was very nice and peaceful. Our teenage daughter was with us and we took her to the Solarium a few times and had no problems with her being in the pool even though the sign says must be 16. The Solarium was my favorite place on the ship.
Day Five- Cococay This place was awesome. This is one of the best places I have ever been! It was beautiful and the water was great. The only downfall I would say is the water was shallow. We traveled the island a bit and never found water that was above our head and went out pretty far. They had a BBQ on the island and the food was good. The Cocolocos were great! I definitely would like to go to this island again but do not know if I will make it because I am not sure I would go on RC again. Will talk about why in a bit. We went back to the ship and to The Solarium again!!
Now as for the comment of why I may not cruise RC again... it is because of the way we were treated by most of the employees at the bars. On Carnival they do as RC does as far as adding the extra 15% to each bill for a tip but on RC they have an extra line for more of a tip. From the first drink I bought if I did not leave more of a tip I was looked at with disgust by the bartenders... in every bar (pool bar, Schooner Bar, Boleros, etc.) The only place we did not experience this was at the Champagne Bar (Hey Maria!) There were 2 bartenders at the Champagne Bar and they were the nicest people on the whole ship. These girls (Maria and the girl from Jamaica... I can not remember her name) deserved the extra tip so they got it! As far as the others I did not let it ruin my vacation but it was very discouraging to get treated this way for not leaving extra tips every time I bought a drink. It wasn't like it was just one or two of them... it was most of them! And I know this part is in no way RC's fault but I dealt with some people on a personal basis (other cruisers) who were very judgmental stuck on themself people and without going into too much detail lets just say that their actions have rubbed off on their children and their children told ours some of the comments these people were making about us and it was just all petty but everytime I saw them after that I just cringed because I had to keep my mouth shut knowing what they said without even knowing us. Again.. I know it is not RC's fault but that just added to the experience.
Our Room Steward was tipped $20 at the beginning of the cruise and did a good job keeping up with cleaning our room. No complaints there.
The food in the dining room was good but not as good as Carnival and there is definitely not as much variety. We went to Chops one night and that blew everything away! That is probably the best meal I have ever had! The mashed potatoes were the best! If you go on this ship spend the $20 because it is definitely worth it.
Our kids were in the 12-14 age group and hung out at Fuel and really enjoyed it but they did not really have much for them to do during the day... most of the planned activities were at night even on the sea day. They did have fun though and were back in the room later at night than us because they were enjoying the pool parties, etc. they had as the planned activities. We went to Fuel to spy on them a few times to make sure they were not roaming the ship and all of the kids seemed to be happy and having a good time. There was a large group of kids in this age group and my kids are keeping in contact with their new friends! :)
Debarkation was awful. When they started calling the first colors everyone (no matter what color they had)got in line to get off the ship so the line was very long. People blocked the stairs.. it really was a big fire hazard... I am not sure how they can do it but they need better organization. Tip to anyone that has early flights, etc. If you get a tag color that is being called near the end (not that it mattered on this debarkation!) you can go near the Pursers desk and you will find an organizer that is hanging on the wall that has all the different colored tags so you can get a color that is being called early. It took a good hour standing in line waiting to get off of the ship. Once we got off the luggage was fairly easy to find and as we were leaving the customs area there were people outside waiting to show us to a cab. We followed a guy to a cab that we could have easily found ourselves but since he showed us there he wanted a tip. I only had $5's so since he was basically in my face being rude with his hand out I gave it to him. Tip: Once you have your luggage and go through the last customs check walk out and to your left. Ignore those people wanting to show you to the cab because all you have to do is go around the corner and the cabs are lined up waiting.... there is no need for the people wanting to "show you to a cab" they just want a tip for doing nothing. This port should do something about that.
Sorry for the long review..... hope it is helpful to someone! :)