Background: My wife and I are in our 70's. I am handicapped, needing a walker to go any distance on foot. We live in Raleigh NC and were visiting friends in Irvine CA. They drove us directly to the ship. We entered the terminal about 11.30 am and went right onboard.
We like this class of ship because, despite its size, it is easy to get around because of the layout of the decks.
It also offers a lot of unique features such as Ice Skating rink; state of the art showroom; miniature golf, great workout facilities; indoor pool and choice of two outside pools.
There are 2 banks of elevators that give easy access to the Promenade Deck, or "Main Street" as some call it. This gives a pleasant, scenic walk from one end of the ship to the other... Located near the front elevators are the Showroom, Health Club, Rendeezvous Cafe, and meeting rooms. Near the rear elevator are the three Main Dining Rooms, Windjammer Cafe, swimming pools, children's play area, card room,Ice skating rink and library. Bars of course are plentiful throughout all public areas. I always buy a Coca-Cola card when we cruise. We made numerous visits to the Rendezvous Cafe for their oatmeal-raisin cookies and Seattle Best Coffee. After the first visit each attendant welcomed me with a friendly, "Mr. Mark, how can I help you". Impressive!
We used to book staterooms with balcony but after several cruises we realized that we spent very little time there. On some cruises there was too much wind or humidity to sit outside. Now we book an outside cabin in the lowest price range available; preferrably toward mid-ship. We get a smoother ride there than higher up.
Ana, our stateroom attendant who hails from Puerto Rico, has a terrific personality and kept our stateroom neat and tidy. The Italian-made foam top mattresses that RCI installed on all ships about a year ago assured us of a good night's sleep.
We had heard that RCI had cut back on quality and service. Not on this cruise. Menu choices gave us good food each evening. Our waiters, Rudi and Pablo gave good attentive service without ever asking that we give them an excellent rating. Their good service spoke for itself. They were probably the most professional duo we have ever had serve us.
We had excellent eggs benedict each morning in the dining room. The Windjammer buffet is another story. Always hard to find a cleaned off table at breakfast or noon and general bedlam along the serving line. No complaints about the offerings, however. We dined at "Chops" one evening. The filet mignion was tender and cooked just right.We did not think it was worth the $50 tab however We had expected a cut-back in the quality of entertainment. Not true! Musicals and solo acts in the
Showroom were outstanding. The band was great!
How the ice skating shows have improved. Now, stunning costumes, excellent choreography and talented skaters.
We did not book any tours offered by RCI. In Seattle we went ashore and met friends living there. They gave us an interesting tour of the city. Astoria, Oregon looked very small so we did not go ashore. We heard later that we did not miss much. Victoria, British Columbia is one our favorite cities. We had a nice walk around the clean downtown area and stopped for excellent fish & chips at Old Vic restaurant. Just as good as what we have had in London. A littel cool 50 degrees; but with jackets we were quite comfortable. What a beautiul, clean, friendly and safe city.
Both embarkation and disembarking were the most trouble- free we have ever had on RCI. Captain Johnny is the most personable chief officer we have ever encountered on a cruise. We had purchased 2 bootles of duty-free drambuie onboard. With new security regulations not allowing liquids to be taken aboard the airplane, we had to have the bottles packaged and checked as luggage. Southwest to Phoenix did not charge for this but Northwest Air charged $25. That ate up any saving on buying duty free. Live and learn! All in all, a 5 Star cruise! Marktime