EMBARKATION: We flew from Atlanta the day of the cruise. Got to the port in Fort Lauderdale at 9:30. We had completed our SeaPass on line so all we had to do was wait until 11:00 to board. There were a couple of wedding parties who boarded first, then the Platinum and Diamond members, then people like us who were first in line. The inprocessing went very smoothly and we were on board the ship by 11:45. We went straight to the Windjammer to eat. One of the quickest and smoothest embarkations we have experienced.
THE SHIP: The ship is elegant and beautiful. There is alot of mirrors, blonde woods, brass and marble. You will see your daily weight gain when you get on the elevators because it is solid mirrors inside. The Centrum is gorgeous and impressive for first time cruisers, I am sure. My Fair Lady dining room is victorian decor and pretty. Christmas decorations abounded everywhere and were a nice touch. Many poinsettas were scattered all over the ship. I thought the ship was pretty clean most of the cruise. They cleaned the windows around the Windjammer while we were in Key West. This ship has a great pool area. Plenty of hot tubs and you can watch your child swim in the main pool while you soak in the hot tub. The Solarium is extremely beautiful and nice. That is where you will find the pizza station. There are many lovely art works in the stairwells and around the ship. They are on the modern side but I still liked them. We did not go to the Chops Grille so I cannot comment on it. As a whole, I like the decor and spaciousness of the ship. It never seemed crowded and the Windjammer is laid out very well so there is no congestion. The view from the Viking Crown lounge is spectacular so be sure to check it out.
THE FOOD: This is where we were disappointed the most. I cruise to dine in the main dining room and be waited on and eat wonderful food that I normally don't eat at home. All I can say is that Royal Caribbean needs desperately to improve their food. Our last cruise was on Celebrity and they have RCI beat by a long shot. There are very few selections to choose from and when you get the food it is not good. I have never seen a filet of beef served cut up into thin slices! INEXCUSABLE! One night I couldn't find anything I wanted so I just didn't order an entree. The server offered to bring me CHICKEN FINGERS! YIKES! You have to be kidding (he wasn't)! I ordered the MAHI MAHI one night and it was battered and fried. I tried one bite and sent it back. Captain D's would have been better! The best night for food was the last night when we got lobster. It was tender and juicy and excellent. The best desserts were the Key Lime pie and warm chocolate cake. Windjammer food was hit-and-miss. Some was pretty good, some was pretty bad. I don't like eating at buffets but the food was so bad in the dining room for lunch and breakfast the we did eat in the Windjammer for those meals.
THE SERVICE: Service was outstanding in the dining room. Anthony, our waiter, at Table 26 was wonderful and so was his assistant. Even the head waiter came by the table EVERY night. Once they knew our preferences on the first night we did not have to ask again the rest of the cruise. Now that is what a cruise is supposed to be like! I just wish they were bringing us good food. Our room attendant did his job and that was it. He was not very friendly but he did take care of the cabin and responded to any requests promptly. I had several things to get pressed and he was very efficient in taking them to the laundry. We did get three towel animals on separate nights. What little experience we had with Guest Relations was positive. No complaints here.
PORTS OF CALL: We had been to Key West so many times that we just got off the ship and walked to a few stores. We bought some Christmas presents and went back to the ship. No big deal.
Tendering in Cozumel was a nightmare. Of course, they did it by the number system. We were number 7 and got off the ship at noon. I hate tendering!
Belize, oh Belize! We bought a ship excursion and it was horrible! We were told to be in the theater at 8:15 and our excursion departed at 8:30. We were still sitting in the theater at 9:30! Needless to say, we were late. We chose this one because it would give us time to shop in Belize after the tour was done. Well, it didn't get back because of the late start. ROYAL CARIBBEAN DOES NOT KNOW HOW TO ORGANIZE SHORE EXCURSIONS! They also told me that all we could do at the park was see the butterflies and when we got out there we could have used the pool. We filled out a complaint and they did refund us 25% of the cost.
CHILDREN'S PROGRAMS:We did not use the children's services.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: There are a lot of things to do on this ship; art auctions, napkin folding, belly flop contest, love and marriage game, Mr. Enchantment contest, hula hoop contest, trivia games galore and many more. You should not get bored if you like doing stuff. The shows were o.k. I don't know what it is about broadway tunes but it seems every ship has a show built around them. The Motown revue by Spectrum was fantastic and should not be missed! The juggling act was alright but not great. I prefer a magician. The comedian was o.k., not wonderfully funny. I loved the Karaoke Superstart competition. I was actually a finalist but did not win. It was loads of fun, especially watching the others do their acts.
DEBARKATION: It went fine for us. We waited until the last minute to go eat and then we went to Bolero's and stayed until last call for passengers to get off. No waiting in long lines trying to tote your stuff. Of course, our flight did not live until 3:00. One negative: When we got to the dining room to eat breakfast before debarking there was a huge line. They were only letting in a few at a time. Never experienced this in 6 previous cruises!
SUMMARY: We will not go on Royal Caribbean again until they get their food in shape. The rest of the cruise was satisfactory. They also need to organize the excursions better. It left a really bad taste in our mouths to ever go on another one.