Background: My husband and I are Diamond Members of RCI's Crown and Anchor Society and with this cruise, we will become Diamond Plus Members. We were very excited about that. We typically stay in a Grand Suite just to have extra space in the cabin and perks. The concierge onboard [in the Diamond Only Club] was surprised that we were diamond members because we are in our early 40s, not in our 50s or 60s. The concierge in the Concierge Club for the suites didn't have that reaction, so we ended up spending most of our time in this club for the suites versus the club for the diamond members. Better treatment and better service.
Hotel Info: We arrived in Miami three days early because my husband is in love with this place, but we didn't know that the Winter Music Conference would cause us to lose sleep and board the ship tired. Not a good start. We stayed at the Hotel Astor [Washington Avenue on South Beach] and they had confirmed that there wasn't going to be any musical events, but alas, there were DJs there two out of the three nights and sleep was at a premium. If you knew my husband, the cost of the hotel room for those nights was on the hotel. My advice if you don't want to be up 24/7 is to stay further up Miami Beach, or if you insist on being in South Beach, I would recommend the South Beach Marriott. It's about 5 blocks down on Ocean Drive and you can actually get some peace and quiet, after the partying. We stayed there on previous cruises and liked it.
Ship Info: We arrived at the ship on Saturday at 1:30pm and went through the embarkation process. Now since this ship is so much bigger than the other RCI ships, it approximately took an additional 30 minutes to get through. We immediately went to our cabin and were impressed by the larger size, newer bedding, etc. If you haven't stayed in a suite, you get a fruit tray, cheese and crackers, specialty cookies, etc, throughout the cruise. Nice extra touches that can give us something that to snack on without calling room service or going to get something to eat.
Our cabin steward was named Allison and she was great to us. We dropped off our carry on bags, and went up to the Windjammer Restaurant to get some food. Overall for the entire cruise, we thought the food in the Windjammer was inferior in taste and choice, which a reflection of the executive chef. The best food were ever had was on the Serenade of the Seas. The first night we ate in the dining room, but the remaining nights we split between Chops Grille (3 nights), Johnny Rockets (1 night), room service (1 night) and Windjammer (1 night). I didn't get the menu item of a Fried Cauliflower Cake (what exactly is that?). Too many lunches in the Windjammer that included mashed potatoes and gravy, pork loin, and chicken. Not enough variety, not like RCL at all. Deserts were also a disappointment. The food in the Chops Grille was excellent. My husband had them make me a chocolate cake for my birthday onboard, and it was excellent. It did cost extra to eat in Chops Grille ($25.00 per person), but it was well worth it.
We had been to the ports of call before, so that was nothing new. We didn't do any tours or anything, but we were impressed with Labadee. RCI has made major improvements to their private island, and it was fun. We had too many drinks and sat under a tree in the chairs.
Overall, we liked the ship, but found it to be little too big. Since it was still Spring Break there were tons of kids aboard, more than what we are used to. When you have children in their twenties and out of the house, it was a bit much at times. Especially when some parents do not discipline their children and let them run loose. Times have sure changed because when I was a kid, I wouldn't have thought about doing some of the things that some of these kids were getting away with. With all of that said, we will be back on RCI sometime this year or next year, maybe Europe.