I'm 45 and my girlfriend is 35. I have cruised with Carnival and Princess once and Royal Caribbean two time prior to this. After this cruise with Royal Caribbean it will probably be the last one for a while with them.
Left early Saturday Morning the day before, bound for a flight out of Baltimore/Washington International. From Montgomery Village, MD to the terminal at BWI took exactly 1 hour. Like on our last cruise we parked at the Airport Fast Park, which is about 2 miles from the airport. Also like before, could not have asked for any better price and service. Had a very uneventful flight and 2 hours later we were in Miami. We took a very expensive taxi ride to the only hotel we were able to book for the night, the Inter Continental in downtown Miami. For some reason that weekend all the hotels were booked in downtown. The hotel was very nice and spacious and in a prime downtown location, that was very close to the cruise port and plenty of shopping and entertainment. Although it was very nice and everything, it was also very expensive at $325 for an overnight stay. I would have been much happier staying at the Holiday Inn Port of Miami for more than half price like we did on our last cruise out of Miami.
The taxi ride from the hotel to the cruise port was less than a mile. We left the hotel at 10:45 and was through security, check-in and on the ship in less than a half hour. This had to be one of the most efficient embarking processes I have every been through. Great Job Royal Caribbean!!!!
We had reserved Deluxe Ocean View Stateroom w/ Balcony, stateroom 7562. I would have say it was a pretty spacious cabin, with one of the largest balconies we had ever had. I would also have to say it was one of the poorest layouts as well. One of the biggest problems was the location of the bathroom in relationship to the closet and the entry way. If you did not close the closet door, you would knock into it with the bathroom door. If you had the closet door open you were also not able to exit the room or get into the bathroom.
Dining We reserved a table for the first seating in the Main Dining room. We found the service to be very rushed and the portion to be the smallest we have ever seen. For my girlfriend, who is a vegetarian, the food options were very bland and limited. We ended up eating in the dining room only twice. We were thinking about making reservation at Chops or Portofino, but again there was no real compromise to assist her vegetarian dining. At Chops they offered her a large vegetable plate and Portofino, everything that did not have meat, which gave her no option for the main course. We ate most of our meals in the Windjammer Cafe. Breakfast and lunch we found just about the same food being served everyday, and found it was not much better for dinner. There was pizza being offered on the Royal Promenade at Sorrento's and small sandwiches at Cafe Promenade. We ended up eating lunch and dinner their a few times, again, due to the lack of variety in the Windjammer. We did try Johnny Rocket's one day for lunch, and found the food to be OK. There was about a $6.00 cover charge that covered all your soda and meal , but you had to pay extra for a milkshake, but not for an ice cream sundae. There was also "specialty" ice cream on the Royal Promenade at Ben and Jerry's. I found $6.00 for a ice cream soda in a small Dixie cup to be a little expensive and was not much better for a single scoop.
Port & Shore Excursions
Costa Maya, Mexico
What a waste of time. This port was nothing more than a tourist trap. A lot of typical tourist souvenirs with a few high end jewelry shops. There was also a pool with lounge chairs surrounded by bars and restaurants. There were a few excursions being offered, but nothing less than $80 for a tour that lasted a few hours. Because of its location, there was nothing to see outside shopping area, unless you took a tour.
Belize City, Belize
Not much better than Costa Maya. It was a 20 minute tender to another fenced in shopping area. Pretty much of the same typical tourist souvenirs with a few high end jewelry shops, but a little bit better quality overall. You were able to venture outside of the fences, but you were literally attacked by locals trying to sell you trinkets or their own shore excursions. We did happen to find a flea market not too far outside of the fences, which offered some nice handmade jewelry that you can bargain a good price for. We did venture a little further down the streets, but it was real dirty and did not feel real safe. Again, there were a few excursions, but real expensive for what was being offered. Cozumel, Mexico
We had been there several times before and this year did not found anything new. Again, a lot of typical tourist souvenirs with a few high end jewelry shops, but by far a higher quality of merchandise over Belize and Costa Maya. There was by far a large variety of shore excursion available, but again real expensive for what was being offered.
We decided to see a few of the stage production on this cruise, but we found it was not much different from what we saw 4 years ago when we sailed on Voyager of the Seas. We attempted to try the ice show again, but both times were sold out. We attempted to do an evening of dancing in the Crypt, but the club was empty all the time and the music was just too far out to enjoy. Most of the activities on the Royal Promenade were well worth attending. They had several music themed nights, but lasted for 1 ½ hours at the most and that was pretty much the end of the night. The music never got carried over to the dance club. Most of the lounges had some sort of music playing, but nothing worth experiencing again like on my other cruises with Royal Caribbean. I did one night discover a pianist and violinist performing in the Olive and Twist lounge and wished there was some more original entertainment like that. We did attend the Love and Marriage show and Quest and found them both very entertaining and well worth seeing. We also attended trivia several times and found that to be real fun. The TV programming was very limited, and became even more limited after 12 midnight.
For the first time on any cruise "we" discovered dirty towels, not once but twice. We brought this to the attention of our cabin attendant after the second time, hoping they would discover it after the first time. We found the service in the dining room to be very rushed and impersonal. We also found service in the Windjammer to be more like crowd control then service. They messed up my order in Johnny Rocket's, and provide no real dining options for my girlfriend, who is vegetarian, in any other specialty restaurants.
Ship Info The Royal Promenade was neat to see for a day or two, but got old real quick. I have experienced it before with my voyages on Voyager and Navigator, found the added shops to be a total waste of space. The On Air Club had the potential of being something, but every time I passed by it there was always a bunch of TV turned on showing the same thing and nothing more. The Connoisseur Club was the exact same layout and size as Voyager and Navigator, but the easy chairs were much smaller and very uncomfortable, when you sat down on the couches you sunk into them. It also seem that all the furniture was a bit smaller everywhere. The Sun deck and Pool areas were absolutely fantastic, great job Royal Caribbean!!! We never had a problem on the busiest of days trying to find a place to lay out in the sun, the pool area never felt crowded. The H20 Zone, the main pool and Solarium pool were just gorgeous. The sports deck was also absolutely fantastic, with the rock climbing wall, full court basketball, and the incredible Flowrider.
Like embarkation, again this had to be one of the most efficient disembarking processes I have every been through. Great Job Royal Caribbean!!!!
I hope this disappointing cruise had something to do with the state of the economy. The quality and variety of food had dropped so bad compared to only two years ago. The quality and variety of entertainment needs to be greatly improved. The all around comfort of the furniture in the dining areas, lounges and clubs needs to be improved. Royal Caribbean does offers you most, but in this case more seems to be a waste. I hope to see quality vs. quantity if I ever decide on Royal Caribbean again. I think next cruise is going to be back with Princess.