What a vacation! We are timeshare travelers, and love driving to a location and unloading for the week. We often take a day trip and stay overnight in another location. While we will still take an annual trip or two on land, I think Cruising is definitely for us...which is what this cruise was for! Find out if we liked sailing and if our bodies could handle the rolling seas. The answer is definitely YES!
If you have never been on a cruise, choose a short cruise, but at least 5 days so you can really get a feel for it. Believe all the tips that say bring fewer clothes and more money though! While almost everything on our Royal Caribbean Cruise was paid on our Sea pass, we had been told that the casino also used your Sea pass, which was not true. I am sure we might have lost more money if we had brought more, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more. We didn't get to the point of checking ATM fees, but we did set money aside for cab fare and tips when we returned to San Diego.
We had a terrible dinner table location, but we had such a wonderful couple to dine with, we decided NOT to move. We started out with 9 at our table, but one couple and their son were supposed to be with their group at another table. There was a Mom and her 17 year old daughter who joined us the first night and one other night. But the other couple was a delight, and have traveled and cruised a great deal, so we had a great time learning from them. Service was on the slow side, but we were not in a big hurry, so we didn't really care.
The Grand Romance package was a special treat (can't believe we got tired of chocolate covered strawberries), but skip the Couples massage. VERY overpriced for what you get.
We did the pre-paid gratuity, which we obviously did NOT understand. Somehow we thought that our gratuity covered everything, only to learn that EVERY bar tab has 15% added to their already high costs ($4.50 for a Miller Lite???) and that we SHOULD have tipped room service since that is on a tip per service. Boy did we feel badly! We had breakfast in our room 4 days! Also missed that we should have tipped at the massage, but we did not feel bad after spending $289 on that.
Skip the "Chain by the Inch" where they don't bother to tell you that besides your 7 inch bracelet costing $31.50, they add another $5.00 for the clasp, which they do not give you an option on the kind. Then if you buy enough you also get a "FREE" bracelet, but they make that a 6 inch of the $2.00 or less chain, and then charge you $5 for the clasp.
We caught part of the opening night stage show, which focused WAY too much on couples who were either just married, or had been married 30+ years. So of course if you are not allowed to get married, your 15 years doesn't mean much! Seems there could be more focus on PEOPLE instead of couples! We didn't make it to any of the other shows, choosing instead to go to the casino after dinner, or walk around the ship, or enjoy a cocktail together on our balcony.
For a couple who doesn't really care about shows, the swimming pools, the activities aboard ship, or fine dining, we were amazed at how our time FLEW on this cruise. We thought the food was super (although someone at our finally dining room breakfast said it was the worst food they had experienced on a cruise). If you couldn't find something you liked to eat, then you just were not hungry! We bought the overpriced water package and had 8 large bottles of Evian for the trip. That was just enough. You can buy bottled water for $1 a bottle in Ensenada, and we saw people bringing shopping bags full of water back on board, but other people said they did not recommend buying bottled water in Mexico. Our eight bottles provided well for us aboard ship as well as in our two ports. You really have to decide for yourself if that is the route you want to take. With gratuity, we paid $3.50 per litre of water. The lemonade was great, iced tea okay. Can't see getting the soda package, but it certainly seemed to be popular. It means you have to carry your cup around with you. Wine at dinner was pricey with one bottle $28, but it lasted two meals. Watch out for the "fun" drinks that they carry around at dinner. You might get the glass, but at $10 a drink, you should skip those unless you MUST have the glass!
The "new" system for Royal Caribbean is to let you stay in your cabin until meeting at a debarkation lounge you are assigned to. We were wandering around the ship and my partner asked me to take her to our lounge so she could sit and wait. As we got there, about a half an hour early, everyone was following a guide and we were told our group had been cleared for debarkation. We joined the end of the line and were off the ship in less than 10 minutes! I think you could wander around the ship longer if you wanted, enjoy the breakfast longer. I could definitely see hanging around for longer since we were back home and not in a big hurry to go anywhere.
One last comment. Take advantage of the pictures on board. They can be annoying at first, but we found some really nice pictures and although they are overpriced, they are great keepsakes and the photography is professional.
We would definitely recommend this cruise! Our next cruise will be Alaska for my retirement!