Background: This was our first RCCL cruise. We have been on one Celebrity cruise and eight Princess cruises. We had a party of seven, 3 generations.
We flew in the night before and stayed at the Homewood Suites Airport West. This was an excellent hotel. The front desk personnel were very helpful. They had a free shuttle service to and from the airport. Some in our party had a car and were allowed to leave it in their parking lot during the cruise at no charge. And they also arranged a shuttle for us to the port for $12.00 each.
Embarkation: We arrived about 1:15 pm. The lines were very long. It was the longest wait we have ever had. They did have a lot of booths open to check people in, but it did seem to take longer to check in, possibly because they took our pictures at that time instead of when we board the ship. But then we liked entering the ship on Deck 4 as it was an impressive start to the cruise (but not worth the long wait). It was also very nice not to have to take our life jacket to the muster.
Ship: What a fantastic and beautiful ship. The most impressive we have been on.
The public areas were beautiful, the glass elevators were stunning. We enjoyed the Royal Promenade. The ice skating rink was a lot of fun, our sons and daughter in law did get to go ice skating. They felt that there were not enough times for open skating though. The Platinum Theater was very beautiful and it had comfortable chairs. The Library had a great location overlooking the Promenade, very comfortable chairs.
Cabin: We had two balcony rooms and one inside at the back of the ship. Rooms seemed a bit larger than we have had on previous lines. It was nice to have a sofa. Bathroom shower doors were a great idea. Storage in mirrors was nice touch. Also it was nice to have a removable shower head. The beds were very, very comfortable. Our room steward Richard did a very nice job. I felt the movement of the ship a lot and was nauseated a couple days. Do not know if it was this particular ship or the fact that we were in the Western Caribbean.
Cleanliness: Very clean. They had people cleaning all the time. Nice.
Closets: The closet doors were very inconvenient. If one had a door open, no one could get by, nor could one open the bathroom door or the hallway door. Also having wire racks for storage in the back of the closet was not easy to use. Doors didn't lock properly on balcony (steward said he would have maintenance fix but never did); dividers on the balcony rattled all night; the noise and cold were noticeable from our balcony doors.
Dining: The 3-story dining room was fabulous. It was so elegant. Our waiter, Albert in Rembrandt, Deck 3 and our head waiter Memish were superb. They really made the dining experience for us. My DH has to eat gluten free and they made sure each night to preview the next day's menu with him and provide him all gluten free items. He thought that they did not have as many choices for gluten free as we have found on previous cruises but their efforts were very much appreciated. We had such excellent service from them. Also Geraldo in Vintages was an excellent waiter the one time we were there. They were all 3 very friendly and personal, made one feel welcome. The coffee was good. The food was good, we enjoyed most everything. Windjammer and Jade were nice, lovely views but had no outside seating . The buffets seemed to be much the same each day. The evening dining in main dining room was very nice but the one time we tried breakfast in the dining room we were disappointed. The food was ok, but the service very lacking during breakfast. Also not being allowed to bring wine onboard was a disappointment. Princess allows one to do so. Another small thing was that waiters do not dress up in tuxes on formal night, nor do they dress up differently for each themed night as they do on Princess. Not really a big deal though.
Entertainment: We saw The Temptations, they were very good. The ice skating show was very good as well. We also saw the Up in the Air, my parents enjoyed it but we thought it was just ok. We were disappointed that there were not any other shows available except in the theater. On Princess one has a couple choices, either the theater or the lounge for performances.
Service: Nothing great. No one wanted to do much for anyone. No smiles, nothing extra. A couple times we asked for something (nothing big) and were told no. We have never been told no on other lines. While this was not a big deal, it did lead to less of an enjoyment factor.
Ports: We did all ship excursions, they were very good. Costa Maya: We did the Cacchobean Ruins tour. Our guide Daniel Balam was very good. The ruins were interesting. The port area was ok, a bunch of tourist shops and pool area. Belize City: We had to tender and everything was quick and efficient when we went at 9:00 am. We did the Altun Ha Ruins and City Tour. This was a good tour, the ruins were very impressive. We were able to climb on top of the ruins and that was a great experience. So we would recommend Altun Ha over Cacchobean if one had to choose. Cozumel: Some in our party did the ATVs in the Jungle. They all had a very fun time. Some of us did shopping then in town.
Disembarkation: We had a late flight so we were the last off the ship. One thing we found to be very nice was that we did not have to leave our rooms before 8:00 am if we had a late time to disembark. We did leave by about 8:30 so that our steward could have the room, but it was nice not to be rushed. After breakfast at the Windjammer, we wandered around the ship a bit, then we sat in the On Air area to wait our time. Very easy exit and found our bags quickly and went thru customs easily. Caught a shuttle from a gentleman outside the port area back to our hotel to pick up the car and wait for our flight time (cost about $11.50 each).
Overall thoughts: Would cruise RCCL again. The items mentioned about service and not having alternative entertainment really matter to us so we would consider doing Princess and Celebrity again before going back to RCCL. Overall we all had a fantastic time.