My wife and I are 45 and 47; this was our 3rd cruise, the first on Royal Caribbean. Our first two cruises were on Celebrity. We booked this cruise 18 months prior to sailing mainly because the price was so low. We booked an inside stateroom on deck 3 which we found to our great surprise on our last cruise worked just fine. An inside cabin got us out of the cabin quicker in the morning giving us more time to use the public areas and to meet new people around the ship.
We arrived 2 days prior to sailing and stayed at the Best Western Bayview, the accommodations there were adequate. A complementary hotel shuttle dropped us off at the cruise terminal the day of departure. Upon arriving at the cruise terminal around 12pm there seemed to be a lot of confusion as to where we should line up with our luggage in hand to enter the terminal, no porters were visible at this time... There was also a Carnival ship in port that day so that added to the problem. We finely did get some answers to where we should line up and from there the line moved slow, but not that bad, before you know it we were in the cruise terminal getting our sea passes and boarding the ship. This whole process would have been hard if you were not able bodied.
Our cabin 3077 was right in the middle of the ship It was a quite nice space, about 165 sq ft with plenty of storage for even our bulging luggage for this 15 day voyage. We were able to get four suitcases under the bed after unpacking them and found plenty of space for our stuff in the cabin drawers and closet space. The room was always cleaned when we expected but never smelled of any cleaning products so we don't think the job was very thorough. We are kind of clean freaks so many may not be able to relate to that statement. Our cabin attendant did provide us with body location and an extra large bucket of ice everyday after we requested it. He did serve us very well!
Unfortunately there was a sewer smell on deck 3 throughout the cruise. They seemed to be working on it each day but to no avail. Some folks we talked to had toilet problems early on in the cruise but they were resolved.
This is a beautiful ship; with about 2300 passengers aboard it never seemed crowded no matter where we were. The public areas are quite large and the expansive windows allow magnificent views out over the ocean. The Windjammer was on 11 deck and was the ship's informal dining venue. The layout of the food was in a station format not a single line format like on Celebrity. This worked very efficiently. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were available here with selection of entries, sandwiches, cold cuts, salads and deserts. The food never changed day to day for breakfast and lunch which got very old after a few days.
The Reflections Dining Room was a large space with dark wood giving the room a warm feel I did notice some wear and saw the same finger prints around the wood serving stations throughout the cruise. Cleaning may not be a strong point with RCL. Things were not all that bad though as we were blessed with some very interesting tablemates to share our dinners and lives with. Our Waiter (Cesar) and his asst waiter were the best we ever have had on any previous cruise. They were a great team, There service was as good as any five star restraint we have ever experienced. The food was very abundant as Cesar made sure of that. I probably gained 5 pounds in just the first two nights. Food quality was pretty good on most nights, not the made from scratch that you get from Celebrity but not bad either.
We ate at Chops Grill and Portofino's each one night. Chops was very disappointing in both the service and the quality of the food. Something did not feel right for our diner this night in Chops. Portofino's was a big improvement to Chops in service and up to our main course was good. We both had the seafood skewers' which were disappointing to say the least.
We ate many lunches at the Seaview Cafe which was always hot and fresh. It was a nice place to have a cold one with lunch in a casual atmosphere.
The most surprising to me was the lack of entertainment. No upbeat pool band until the last 4 days. The band was weak at best. We heard much better in the karaoke contest. Shows were also quite weak compared to what I have seen on Celebrity. Although I must say our Ohana CC group was very entertaining at all times.
The Deck areas were virtually spotless throughout the ship which was very nice to see, but the public bathrooms looked clean but smelled of urine.
Unfortunately our ship had to turn back for a medical emergency which a gentleman was airlifted off; they did report that he was in stable condition in Oahu so that part was good. Unfortunately this caused many to miss there flights as we arrived a few hours late to San Diego. I thought the ship communication on this matter was very uneven as is always the case on cruise ships. To there credit they let us use the ship phone and internet to reschedule flights and hotel reservations for which the charges were reimbursed at the front desk, this was never put in writing causing undue stress for many who did not know this first hand.. There was a very large cruise critic group aboard that we had the pleasure of meeting many. before we cruised. It felt more like a large family cruising together at times with no lack of planned CC activities to partake in.
One other disappointment was the selection of wine in their wine package. I do understand that they need to make money on these bottles but you can get a decent bottle of wine within this price point. It just take a little effort which they made none.
Overall this cruise was better than I thought it would be. The ship is gorgeous and the people we sailed with were all great fun. I would consider Royal Caribbean again. I will be going back to Celebrity for our next cruise. The food is better and they have a more professional staff throughout the ship. After all is said and done the price is really about the same, and for us it is more about the food and cleanliness than anything else.