I was very satisfied with all aspects of this ship. I will make my review short, cute and to the point. Hopefully this will be easier for everyone reading. I took this cruise all by myself and by far this has been the best vacation I have ever taken in my life. This was also my first time traveling with Royal Caribbean . I have traveled with Carnival five times before. Although I cannot say anything negative about Carnival, however,the difference between the two is quite noticeable. So here goes the review:
Pier: The last time I cruised was in 1998. The Pier has had an amazing overhaul since. It now looks like an airport these days. The cost to park at the Pier is $20.00 a day...if possible, have transportation set-up to take you there. You will enjoy that $20.00 a day while on the ship instead. I did and highly recommend the "On-Line Check-In" option. That particular day we had a delay boarding the ship because it was being disinfected. Took us about 2 hours to board but oh well, it happens...no harm done. This was a great opportunity to meet people before boarding.
Ship: The ship was always clean and well kept. Nice ship, the lobby is quite spectacular. Customer Service on this ship was quite extraordinary, no complaints there. Always something different to do. Read your Cruise Compass every morning and highlight those activities you just must do. Trust me, there is always something to do and if there isn't anything you like, spend the day in one of the two pools. I had a balcony room on the eighth floor. Lots of storage space but do take a multi-outlet extension cord...it will come in handy if you're traveling with electronics. Sorry non-smokers, but this ship is quite smoker friendly. Many places that you're able to smoke including your balcony. Cigarette brands are limited but CHEAP!! I paid $49.00 for two cartons of Marlboro. If you don't want to pack cigarettes, just buy them there. I even stocked up before leaving the ship. Things on the ship are not ridiculously expensive and they have great sales on items throughout the trip. The last day, I bought two watches for my mom with earrings and pendants for $39.99 total for both. You can get good deals on the ship contrary to popular belief.
Also, read the message boards. On this ship they were posted at Latte-tudes. You will find out about different things of interest that happen on-board....Friends of Bill W., Friends of Dorothy, Religious gatherings, etc. I had a Latte there every morning...same prices as Starbuck's...no more no less.
Ok, this is not a complaint in no way, but I wish someone would have written about this on Cruise Critic. Expect to wait for elevators during busy moments on the ship. Not a complaint, but I wish I would've been warned before. Also, you will encounter long lines exiting/entering the ship at times...this is nothing that a nice long deep breath followed by a Jack & Coke won't cure. Everything else about this trip compensated for this minor stumble...no big deal really, just another way to meet new people while you wait which I did.
Dining: If you're expecting for your food to come out dancing on your plate while the vegetables play Mariachi music, you will be disappointed. I gained weight during this trip so here's the low down: Seaview Cafe: Typical diner style food. Nice and filling...must have the Onion Rings and a shake. I enjoyed having lunch there very much.
Windjammer: Buffet style, no long lines or wait. Great for breakfast but have your eggs made at the omelet station...the ones on the buffet aren't great. Lunch is filling there, lots to choose from but you may opt to have your lunch in the Main Dining Room. Time will dictate your lunches on-board. I preferred to have dinner in the main dining room. Had dinner here once but didn't care for it.
Solarium Cafe: Blah, ok if there's nothing else to eat...it's pizza and hot dogs mostly. I wanted the big stuff. Pizza was flavorless actually.
Tides Dining Room: I recommend for everyone to have their dinner here. Listen to your waiter's suggestions. I didn't once and regretted it. The plate was changed with no hesitation to his suggestion and it was MUCH better. If the portion is too small, have another. If you don't like it, switch it...you're paying for this already so might as well enjoy it. The food was not bad at all and I enjoyed it. Crab Cakes...yummy. Lamb...yummy (make sure it's medium/rare.) I had never had crab or lamb before this trip. This was the waiter's suggestion and YUM YUM!!
I did not have dinner at Chops or Portofino, however, from talking to other people who did it was quite good.
Bars/Drinks: Ok, here's my favorite part about this trip. I spent quite a bit of time at the bars, particularly The Pit Stop. You are going to read on Cruise Critic how expensive the drinks are...not exactly completely true. Here's the real deal, I was paying no more/no less than I would pay for a Jack & Coke at a bar in Miami. The difference you ask? No matter what bartender I went to, I always got what I was paying for. I never encountered a skimpy watered down drink no matter what bartender I went to. Granted, frozen drinks tend to be somewhat lighter, so I stayed away from those. My favorite bartender EVER was Marlon...he was working at The Pit Stop. By the third day of this cruise, each bar had it's own loyal following depending on people's connection to the bartender. If you read this and come across Marlon, please tell him the crazy Cuban from Miami named Cid says WHAT'S UP!! Here's a free tip from me to you, an extra tip on your bar tab to your favorite bartender is a good idea.
I hope this helped at least one person out there. You're thinking will make a difference on any experience out there. Nothing in life is perfect. Would I recommend Royal to anyone? YES!! Would I travel with them again? I'm already looking into my next one. Enjoy and please have a great time....talk to anyone within touching distance while on-board...life is too short. I met many fabulous people on this trip.
Yours Truly, Cid P.