First time to Europe for DW and I, so we were going to be seeing things we had never seen. The ship itself was about the same as our other two cruises (Jewel on RCCL and Celebrity Summit) so we were not overwhelmed by it. We actually spent very little time on the ship and taking advantage of the amenities, so you won't learn much from this review about the entertainment, etc.
The only lectures I heard anything about were "Beginning Italian" and "Beginning Spanish"- besides the ones on the "best places to shop". look forward to learning (I am a classroom instructor myself) so I was disappointed that there wasn't a lecture on the history of Rome or Pompeii, etc.
RCCL did seem to have toned down the selling of everything at every opportunity. There was even a clothing sale published in the Cruise Compass that they never ended up doing. I do have to say I didn't see a single "Diamonds International" shop in any port........thank you!
The public rooms were very nice. We enjoyed the little cafe in the Promenade area that provided bakery goods and sandwiches all day and night.
We were disappointed in the food on the ship. Celebrity, 5 years ago, was liking dining in a four star restaurant every night. This was more like a chain restaurant. I know it is difficult to mass produce food, but the disappointment was in the menus more so than the quality. No lobster- they have "substituted" giant shrimp instead. There was Prime Rib a couple of times that was goodand there was a new selection of dishes with a definite flair from Asia- mostly Indian. Steak was available every night, but not a real great cut of beef. What really got me though was offering breaded turkey strips twice......Almost everything that was served, except the beef, was also available in the Windjammer at lunch or dinner the next day.
The menu for breakfast was exactly the same day after day after day. It frankly was a little tiring. The Windjammer serves its purpose, but by day 5 you knew that the scrambled eggs were next to the hash brown sticks and the corned beef hash was next to the bacon. It was difficult to get someone to "break the rules" and provide me with a glass of iced tea- since I don't drink coffee and need some caffeine to get started.
The prices for the cruises have gone down from the economy, and it appears that what RCCL has done is to cut back on the quality in the dining room as a way to save $$$.
We generally ate lunch at the port stops, so I don't have much input about lunch.
The service in the dining room for dinner was good, but not great. Our Waiter, Michael from Costa Rica, had a ton of personality and did a fine job of serving us. The Assistant, Ana from Peru, was a little nervous and more than once tried to serve the wrong food or wine to someone at our table. They were both really nice and we enjoyed having them with us.
The service in the Windjammer and pool deck area was indifferent at best. if there wasn't a tip involved there was the "golden service" level that RCCL likes to say it offers. Service in the High Notes bar was slow. We sat in the Schoooner Bar to meet some people and they were more attentive there.
Our cabin attendant was Calvert from St. Vincent was VERY attentive and effecient. He did an excellent job.
We did try Portofino as one of our CC friends just raved about it. They would eat there every night. We were not that impressed that we would continue to pay an extra $20 each per night for the privilege. The food and service were better than the Dining Room. It was fine for a one time thing.
We did not go to any shows, spend much time at the pools, spa, bars or casino, or generally party around the ship. We were definitely on the cruise more for the port stops. We only saw the Cruise Director around the ship a couple of times so we really didn't see her (Jill Tasker) in action. She didn't show up for the CC Meet and Mingle.
All in all, this is the 2nd time we had cruised with RCCL and I think we will probably try another cruise line next time. We really like cruising, but Celebrity really was a cut above. We may look to Princess next time just to see if there is a difference. Don't get me wrong- cruising will probably be a part of our lives for as long as we live- we just want to see if the grass is greener elsewhere after having seen RCCL.