Embarkation: We got to the port about 10:30 am (by bus) and had to wait about one hour in traffic. Once we got off the bus all luggage was handled by bus driver and the longshoreman (for tips of course). We didn't see our luggage again until about 4pm-very easy. Registration/sea pass cards line took about 15-20 minutes, then another 15 minutes to wait for our number to be called for the shuttle bus to take us to the ship. We got on the ship just after noon. The whole process was simple and fairly efficient. SUGGESTION: If you can get to the port between 1 and 2 pm, no traffic, no lines- a breeze to get on the ship.
Overall view of the ship itself: for a ten year old ship it was in excellent shape. quite clean. a couple of the public mens restrooms could have been a little cleaner and the balcony railings need stain. The ship is nicely decorated. The royal promenade is impressive, as is most of the ship. Aft elevators are usually very crowded and difficult to get most of the cruise. At peak times take whatever one that gets there no matter which way it's going.
Stateroom: We were in a balcony stateroom #7570. Excellent spot in the ship-up and down center, and a little forward of center front to back. This makes a difference when you have 12-14 foot seas. Size of the room was small but that was expected. Just enough room for 2. balcony is nice to have if you can afford it. Room was very clean as was the bathroom(although, again, small but as expected). THANK YOU PAULA. Linen very nice and changed when asked. pillows were to my liking -flat- but not to wife's (fluffy). Our attendant accommodated every request.
Entertainment/Activities: ice show is highly recommended, but make sure you get tickets-pay attention to the cruise compass(daily newspaper where all activities are listed). Main shows and entertainers are typical for cruise ships. Ships singers/dancers are good. Hired singers/comedians are geared toward an older crowd. Guest participating shows for us were the best. Karaoke, name that tune, battle of sexes etc. all entertaining. MUST SEE: the quest. Bar entertainers were good. The chamber is a danceclub that changes its music as the night goes on. 50's to 80's until about midnight then more current music takes over. Other cruisers have been upset by this but they have understand that younger cruisers are on board also. There was only one day at sea (day 10?) that was a good pool day. poolside activities that day were quite entertaining. Reggae band was ok. The solarium was quiet - no kids. Hot tubs there popular the first and last 2 days.
Dining: For us it was fairly disappointing. staff/service was excellent though. Dinner-Fancy food doesn't do it for us and that is what rccl tries to do. most of the food tended to be overcooked. If you like a medium well steak order it medium and you might be ok. Almost every night constant companion had to have her meal modified to her taste. usually 5 dinner choices of which i only had one option. on carnival i usually had 2-3 choices. Don't get me wrong I still put on 10 pounds. Other than the lobster tails, NY strip, and italian night nothing memorable. (prime rib good too) only one night did the waitstaff do a "show"-amusing Lunch-same menu items almost every day. Burgers were good although they cook them through steak sandwich good. good fries. very good salad bar. Breakfast: did not eat it in the dining room
Deserts were ok, nothing spectacular
Windjammer: Burgers horrible-even to my new UK friends. most other entrees were bland INCLUDING THE PIZZA. Good salad bar. Excellent asian stir fry. good fries. desserts were so/so. iced tea and lemonade were constantly watered down. ASK FOR THESE WITHOUT ICE and get a glass of ice too. Cookies were hard as rock on all but 2 occasions. Breakfast: standard buffet breakfast- all food so/so.
Cafe promenade: only 24 hour food other than room service. poor selection of sandwiches, which weren't so good any way(slimy turkey if you know what i mean). pizza bland, I ate it at 2am only cause i was starving. desserts so/so. no free drinks here other than water. Again rock hard cookies (can u tell i like cookies?). the wife didn't like the ships coffee, although she didn't try it here.
Bar staff/waiters: excellent service all over the ship. soda 1.95, coors light 3.95 drinks 6-10
Portofino's: did not go there $20 cover p/p to eat there
Johnny Rockets: Food just like mainland. $4. 95 cover p/p
soft icecream machine has yogurt in it
Ports: no review on shopping - we didn't do any
San juan-Hired a taxi to give us a tour for 45 bucks. 1.5 hours and saw the highlights. We stopped for pix but no time to go into the forts. wish we had. negotiate with the drivers, go to the forts first if you want to go into them.
THERE IS A FREE TROLLEY IN SAN JUAN TO TAKE YOU TO THE FORTS AND SHOPPING AREA. forts close at 5.
St. thomas: Honeymoon beach and turtle cove sail. 99/each. Had a great time with the Bones crew. Highly recommended. sailing,snorkeling,beach,swimming,lunch bbq oh yeah and drinking. did i say drinking yet. rum punch and beer, yes soda too. mostly geared to adults but its ok for kids too.
St. maarten: americas cup sailing regatta. race against another cup sailboat. lots of fun. most people participated in the operation of the boat, although you didn't have too. Highly recommended.
Dominica: RIVER TUBING and emerald pool tour. Lots of fun. This river was NOT a lazy river . There were 5-6 sections of rapids that could easily dump you out of your tube. We both got dumped out once. I swim poorly and did not have an issue. We had to wear helmets and lifejackets. I am 250 pounds and the lifejacket worked perfectly. If you fall out just lay on your back feet first and let the current take you downstream. One of the 15+ staff that is standing in the water will pluck you out of the rapids and get you a tube to continue. Highly Recommended
Barbados: beginner scuba. yes even though i Don't swim well i do scuba. wreck site was not that impressive. roatan island and grand cayman were much better sites to dive. This was ok but would not do it here again.
Antigua: zip line and canopy challenge. 115 p/p Never did this before and it too was lots of fun. looking for this at home now to do this summer. pricey, but an excellent excursion. Don't just do the zip, do the canopy challenge too. Highly recommended
Embarkation: walked right off the ship and onto shuttle with no waiting. 915 to 930 departure time. no problem getting luggage. GET A PORTER. They zip you right through customs and to your transportation. the only problem is if you have to wait for your transportation there is no warm spot to do so.
OVERALL: this cruise had an over abundance of geriatric people. 3 things contribute to this i think. 1 leaving out of ny/nj. 2 a 12 night cruise 3 its rccl. Everyone in general was very friendly. we didn't encounter any rudeness other than a couple minor elevator issues.
WE HAD A GOOD TIME. but we would not do this cruise again. The first 2.5 days and the last 2 days at sea are a waste of time. We would fly to a warm weather port. Seas were 12-14 ft and many people were sick the first couple days. it was better on the way back.
Would we use Rccl again???? maybe. but we would leave out of fl and no more than 8 days. We would most likely go back to carnival because of the food and the average age of the passengers.
I hope this was helpful, cruises are a lot of fun.