This was our 4th cruise, first with RCCL. Previous sailings include HAL, Carnival and Princess. Our 'child', now 17, was skeptical about being at the top end of the kids spectrum.
We drove from Phx to SD and visited in-laws prior to the 21st. Left our car with them and on Monday morning headed to the port. Arrived around noon and we unloaded the bags, found a porter and headed for check-in in about 15 minutes.
Check-in was smooth. Room not ready until 1pm, so we headed up to Windjammer for a bite and did some exploring of the ship to get our bearings. Overall, the Windjammer was average. Food presentation was good but flavor often bland or salty. Good pastries and desserts. Omelette breakfast bar needs review. Give your order to someone who writes on a scrap of paper and places in-line. Sounds simple and straightforward but this process did not run smooth. Breakfast in the main dinning room provided better tasting breakfast, faster service and always had a nice table. The 'make your own sandwich' bar was tasty. Didn't eat dinner in the Windjammer. SeaView Cafe had good finger food, chunky clam chowder, grilled burgers and good service. Best place for snacking late-nite. Portofino's was excellent and plenty of wine choose from. We did the Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre and thoroughly enjoyed everything. We chose Anytime Dining and not once did we have difficulty. Arrived most evenings between 6:30 and 7:30. Samchai was our waiter and Cris was the assistant waiter. Both were excellent. Attention to detail impressed me. These two gentlemen spoiled us with polite, prompt and professional attention.
Casino - slots so tight you could barely get your quarter inserted (lol). Sports Bar - plenty of tv's but all showed the same game.
Entertainment - standard from what we have experienced, although the comedian on the final night was very good. Kids stuff - plenty of 17 - 19 yr olds. They pretty much hung out by themselves. Ours enjoyed the rock wall climbing, teen disco, putt-putt and staying out late every night. Pools and Spas - Usual problem with Lounge Hogs. Realizing they would lose their precious claim to a lounge with just a towel, many would leave personal property (iPods, purses, computers) on the lounge and then take off. I saw 2 iPods just sitting there for the 45 minutes I had a lounge.
Solarium - Best kept secret onboard.Quiet, relaxing and lounges aplenty. Pizza bar was not my cup of tea (bland) but my wife liked it. Oh, the Taco Bar in Windjammer was very tasty. Activities - Bingo, dance lessons, towel folding, pool tables, etc. Movie Theater - nice break from watching in the cabin. Few people in each time I took a look or watched a movie.
Exercise - Are you kidding me?? I'm on a cruise!!! I did see joggers on the track and using the facilities every morning I got up to see the sunrise. Santa Claus - arrived by tender in the morning and had a present for each child registered onboard. Unfortunately, ours didn't find it cool enough to see the man and receive his present.
New Years - Variety of music and entertainment all over the ship. Starquest Lounge was 18 and older Rock n Rollers. Colony Club had a Guy Lombardo Big Band New Year going on. Atrium was doing kind of Dick Clark New Year celebration. Teens had their own party going on. Stateroom - Roomy for 2. A bit crowded with 3 adults getting dressed but all is needed is a system. Balcony had 2 chairs and small table. Our attendant was pleasant and worked around our varying schedules with a smile. Special Stuff - Ordered Classic Romance pkg. Great value and the Romantic Breakfast was delicious. Photos - looking forward to reviewing pics online via room account instead of wasting soooo much photo paper. C'mon Cruise Industry. We buy a few pics but the rest just get tossed. How about making better priced pkgs to reduce waste?
Disembarkation - Total Mess. An international pax did not show up for 2 hours preventing the ship from being cleared. Our time to meet in the Aurora was 9:45 to leave and when we saw the Atrium we knew something was wrong. Off the ship at noon, got our luggage and thru customs in another 20 minutes. Biggest problem was lack of porters at baggage claim. And 2 other ships unloading paxs. Overall - great cruise, great cruiseline. I would recommend RCCL as well as the experience of the holidays at sea. We are already planning for Dec 2010.