We had flights on the special charter with RCI direct to Santa Domingo from Gatwick. The flight was excellent for the legroom and service,which was complimentary all the way, and they did not ration the drinks either. We got off the plane into waiting coaches and were taken direct to the pier, so did not have to enter the airport terminal at all. Cases arrived directly to the stateroom later on.
Check-in was less straight forward as not all speak english that well, so it was difficult to have a conversation. Having completed all documentation online and presenting it printed and signed, I was then made to fill out the same thing again from the RCI booklet. ???
No-one to welcome you onboard or direct you to the staterooms as you get on the ship could have been a problem if we had been newbies, and this was commented on by first time cruisers we met onboard. We went to our cabin and dropped off our stuff to explore the ship. She may be getting old, and there were a couple of signs around the ship of this, but it was spotless. The staff ensured it stayed this way, and credit must be paid to them for this.Week 1 Was a complete disappointment, as the whole ship was geared towards the spanish speaking majority who had flocked from the neighboring countries. On the whole they were rude, loud and ignorant unless you spoke spanish to them. The windjammer(we used it once and thought a plague of locusts had descended on the place the way the food was devoured or just wasted by filling plates and leaving it)cutting in lines, pushing and barging people out of the way.
The children ran riot across the whole ship and I saw no parental control at any time. I watched 2 children (12-14 approx)whacking everything standing on the mini golf.
The solarium is adults only, but it did not stop the spanish speaking guests ignoring this and letting the children use it all week.
The staff need to take some responsibility for the problems as they did nothing to stop any of the things going on. One example being in the solarium snack bar waiting in line for pizza when an elderly lady walks up to the back, barked at the waiter in spanish and walked away with the last of the pizza leaving us to then wait for some more to be brought out. The waiter should have asked her to wait her turn and serve the people waiting there already.
We resorted to eating off ship or room service at lunch due to the state of the windjammer and the main dining room not being open at lunch !!!. It only opened on the sea day (day 7) for Brunch at 11:30 as it was not open for breakfast.Week 2 You could feel and see the change from the sailaway on Sunday evening as there were only about 100 spanish speaking cruisers against the 1200 the previous week.
We ate in the windjammer all week at lunch, and it was fantastic. I saw staff telling kids not to use the solarium. People apologized if they got in the way, and queues were orderly and observed.
Entertainment was poor from the headliner acts apart from Jonothan Kane (Elton John who is fantastic) and the juggler on the last night of the second week (cannot remember his name, but crazy guy in red suit from Colorado). The RCI singers and dancers were good also and put on some good shows in a rather empty theatre compared to audiences from previous cruises.
Tour of the cruise - Tiami 5* catamaran cruise - Awesome day well worth the $85 charge for the crew alone. Good snorkeling with turtles and fish at 2 different stops, good food, plenty of booze, great beach and a fantastic bunch of guys.
The service from the stateroom attendants and dining room staff was very good with one exception being the asst waiter in week 2. The first week severely dented my confidence in Royal Caribbean, but was somewhat restored with the second, and would cruise with them again because of that.