This was my fourth cruise and third cruise line. It will also probably be my last cruise on RCCL. The boarding was about as bad as it gets. Even though the port authority has control of some aspects of the boarding, the cruise line can, and must, take some steps to ameliorate the problems. We had to wait over an hour on the bus even after arriving late as requested. We were given no word from RCCL as to what the delay was. Instead we were eventually dropped off at an open air terminal in freezing temperatures with windy drafts. Two widows in our party fell on the pavement due to this wait and uneven pavement. One could have been very seriously hurt, and we weren't sure until the last minute whether my wife and I would have to stay with one of them and miss the cruise. (Travel insurance probably wouldn't have paid because she was not a relative, but she had no one else.) The ship doctor, fortunately, gave approval for her to board. All this could have been avoided if RCCL had told us on the bus what was happening and then taken one bus at a time to clear boarding quickly and efficiently. There would have been no need to wait in the cold. Better yet, they could have brought food and drinks to the buses. Upper management was uncaring and insensitive. I saw on this site that they had not learned from the previous cruise from the same Bayonne, NJ port the month before. This is inexcusable.
Once on board we found the cabin to be satisfactory but nothing special. The service in both the cabin and the dining room, however, was first-rate. The food was fair--better than Carnival but certainly not up to the level of Holland America. Windjammer lunches were average. I missed the opportunity to have sushi each lunch as I had on Holland America. It was only available the last day. The rolls and bread at all meals, however, were superb.
One of the great problems was a dearth of bathrooms in public areas, or in some cases inadequate signs pointing to their location. To find one in a hurry sometimes was exciting. :( Occasionally it required going down a deck or two. On some occasions it was necessary to rush back to the cabin. In addition, even when a bathroom was in the area maintenance was being done on it.
The solarium could not be completely enclosed, and so it was useless for the first day or two out and the last day or two back for a NE winter cruise. Holland America had a sliding glass cover for the area that made it usable the whole cruise.
The entertainment was decent. I heard that the ice show was great, but they didn't have enough shows, and many (including us) were not able to see it because of this. The music on board was excellent.
Many in our group (including me) were really ticked off at the $12 corking fee for wine purchased from RCCL by the travel agent and delivered to our rooms. That was outrageous. We ended up carrying it off the ship. The wine service was poor. The selection of wines by the glass was not good, and what was there was overpriced, especially considering the quality. I often had to ask for a wine menu to be delivered to the table. RCCL also pushed their drinks way too much.
The Internet access was woeful. The charge of $.55/minute for slow speed was outrageous. I refused to pay that kind of money for what would have had to be a minimum of 1/2 connection to read and/or send a few emails. Wifi was not available in our cabin, either. We would have had to go to the library, although this was readily accessible.
The excursions were good and varied. They were not a source of trouble.
Debarkation was handled well--way better than boarding. We had no problems with our luggage, but we had concerns whether we would have trouble because our bags had been left sitting outside for hours after getting off the bus, and they were still there when we finally got into the security area.
The sound system in the entertainment/showtime area was too loud. In fact, it exceeded the capacity of the speakers so that the words were not clear. Much of the time it was impossible to understand the words of the songs. It was all muddled.
All in all the on-board experience was fair, but there were too many major problems with the cruise as a whole to consider traveling RCCL again. I never say never, but it's one notch above that.