This was our second cruise (our first one was a Windstar Cruise, and we'd never go on one again; terrible service, over-rated, and expensive, especially compared to this one). Royal Caribbean is the way to go!
We travelled Nov. 2007 w/o kids; so the cruise ship was "off peak" season; very relaxed, not too crowded, not a lot of kids running around, which was really nice.
Check-in: the only thing really disorganized about check in is trying to check in your luggage. Once you're actually in the building to physically check in, it goes pretty smoothly, especially if you already did it online prior to arrival.
We departed from LA (there's a parking lot on site and at the time it was like $12/nite to park there).
TIP: Although you can check in any time up to 1 1/2 hr. prior to departure), if you can arrive at lunch time b/c the ship will serve you lunch at that time.
Cabins: We booked interior "N" category, Deck 2. They're small, standard rooms and for what we paid ($174 per person) we had NOTHING to complain about! (The rooms are no different than the Windstar cruise, which cost us over $4K).
TIP: If you tend to get motion sickness, book this category, as we didn't have any problems. Also bring your own pills, as the ship charges alot for motion sickness pills.
Food: Oh, where do I begin?! The food oh so exceeded our expectations! Every lunch & dinner was awesome. Most lunches were buffet, but on one of the days they open the restaurant for lunch and it is well worth it to have lunch there (free). All dinners we ate in the main dining room and it was gourmet 1st class all the way. We also did all the buffets and they were all flavorful, prepared well, clean, etc. Coffee/teas inc. daily (soda at dinner, unless you buy drink package). B'fast we did all buffet & restaurant one morning; all pretty decent. You can pretty much get some kind of snack/in room dining 24 hr/day. However, they don't have bottled water (except for purchase).
Ship: This was our first "big cruise" (Windstar is only about 150 passengers) so we weren't sure what to expect. Pleasantly surprised; very nice, clean, plenty to do. The only complaint we had is that the pool isn't heated, the jacuzzi is tiny and they allow smoking on deck.
The ports: San Diego- tons to do. We live near SD so we didn't bother getting off the boat. Catalina is great and Ensenada is dirty. For us, we just wanted to relax and stay on the boat to enjoy all the amenities, which were all great.
The fitness center: Big, nice, clean, plenty of treadmills, 4 ellipticals, bikes, weights, yoga, etc.
Overall, this is a GREAT deal!! Especially if you live in Socal & don't need to worry about buying plane tickets. On our cruise, most people were from Socal. It was wonderful. A++++ 5 star rating, in my opinion.
Enjoy & happy travels!