This was our 22nd cruise and the 15th with Royal Caribbean. We have previously cruised 4 times on the Radiance class ships and they seem to fit the bill for us. We are Diamond members with 149 cruise days with Royal. The ship is in excellent shape and the crew members were always friendly and helpful. The food in all venues was very good so we have no complaints. It was a grueling schedule for us as we arrived in Barcelona on the sail date completely exhausted after a long flight. I had booked 5 tours with the cruiseline mostly because the Med. is a new area for us and I didn't want to take the chance of doing tours independently. We enjoyed all the tours and were well taken care of. The first two tours were long 11 hour excursions and included nice lunches. We saw everything we wanted to see and more. If and when we go back again to this part of the world we will have the "must sees" under our belt and will be easier on ourselves. I want to comment on the recent cut-backs on certains things that we have become accustomed to in the past on Royal ships. The hardest to accept was the concierge lounge being taken away from us after enjoying it for the past 5 or 6 cruises. The cruiseline did accomodate us in a lounge (Hollywood Odyssee) on deck 13 and Angela, the hostess, tried her best with the help of her assistant Andre, to make us comfortable. She is wonderful and we will miss her very much. She was helpful with advice to us on things to see in port, and was cheerful, intelligent and as cute as a button. I hope "The Company" appreciates the gem they have in her. It was hard to accept our demotion but we enjoyed the lounge. It was very lonely in there. Our traveling friends, having booked a suite, enjoyed the concierge club but told us it was extremely quiet in there so several times they joined us in the Diamond lounge. Lot of little things have been taken away and it seems to me very petty on RCI's part. No pillow candy (no big deal) no newspapers (big deal) no gifts for repeat passengers (missed) no more midnight buffets, just one deck party, no more coupon books that really had anything of value (huge deal) ordinary things like they don't fold the napkins in unusual shapes was not a necessary thing to us but noticeable. The Art Auctions are a total ripoff but anyone dumb enough for fall for that baloney is welcome to it. The Shop Talk lady is also selling a bill of goods to the passengers. At one talk she said that there were only 3 places in Venice that sold masks. We must have seen 300. After buying 2 masks we couldn't even get close to the room they used for "the ball." We were also informed that they will be charging for some seaday opportunites like the bead making classes. I don't go to them but a lot of the ladies will be angry at that. It's nickel and dime all the time. And so on and so on. On the plus side the entertainment was very good although we did miss several shows.
Tours we took were expensive but we enjoyed them all. The little extras were appreciated. Sailing into Venice and the whole show they put on with the German style buffet and classical music was something we will never forget. We are now looking at other cruise lines after all the years of being Loyal to Royal. Next March we have a cruise booked on Princess so will give them a try. We are also looking at Celebrity (I know, it's owned by RCI) for November 2010 and September 2011. Royal Caribbean is just not the same cruiseline we loved for years and seems to be cutting corners to gamble on the huge new ships they will have to fill. In tough economic times they are allienating the passengers that stayed with them and turning tto the younger crowd. Good luck to them. I think its a huge mistake.