This is not going to be your typical day by day detailed recounting of our 11 Night "Ultimate Caribbean and Panama" cruise (there are enough of those already posted). Instead this review will talk about what RCCL has done or undone to push their loyal to other cruise lines.
To start: We have cruised with RCCL 6 times always in a Junior Suite or better and for a minimum of 10 nights on each cruise. We are in our mid-40's and chose RCCL for the "Get Out There" approach to active cruising.
The Good: Food, staff, ship - all very good to excellent.
The Bad: In an age of discounting where every nickel is important to a company's bottom line it is understandable that some things will need to be reduced or eliminated all together. However, it should not be as noticeable as it was on this cruise. Gone are: mints on the pillows at night, the daily newspaper (not the Compass, but the excerpts from the Times, etc.), salad included with dinner, and variety of choices for room service breakfast. If RCCL wants to save money, eliminate the Head Waiters. Ours was completely worthless and on "tip night" didn't even bother coming over to our table.
The entertainment and activities were just the same old tired bingo, art auctions, belly flop, line dancing, Battle of the Sexes, comedian, ventriloquist, etc. In the casino you might as well have just handed them your money and walked out. $50 was gone in 5 minutes - never saw anyone win.
In addition to charging for internet use, RCCL now charges a $3 "convenience fee' to buy chips using your room card in the casino and $2.50 for fresh orange juice (8oz.).
On previous cruises we had "smuggled" liquor on board in our suitcases without any problem (yes, it is stated that this is prohibited). This time our liquor was confiscated (1/2 gallon each of scotch and vodka) with a note letting us know that it would not be returned. About a dozen passengers had to go to security to pick up the bags for the same reason. Even a pint of brandy was confiscated. Enforcing this policy is (regrettably) understandable, but other policies were not enforced (jeans, shorts and tees in the Dining Room during dinner, for example). The lack of consistency was frustrating.
The Ugly: RCCL needs to completely overhaul the Crown and Anchor program. This is a huge beast that is only going to get worse. With Oasis OTS (and soon Allure) RCCL is adding thousands of new members each week. What happens to the Concierge Club when they all reach Diamond Plus level? Here's their current solution: Only Diamond Plus members or Suite guests (Junior Suites do not qualify) can use the concierge club, which was overflowing into the Library just adjacent. Diamond members were offered a secondary lounge in Hollywood Odyssey on Deck 13 (staffed by a lovely young woman from Argentina, Virginia). From 5:00-8:00 you were offered complimentary wine and a 25% discount on cocktails. No hors d'oeuvres at all. They also held two receptions for C&A members, but we didn't bother attending based on previous reviewers' lackluster feedback. We did get a small plate of chocolates one day in our room with the "Loyalty Ambassador"'s business card placed on the lid. A very impersonal touch for "our best guests".
RCCL has now adopted a new ad slogan "The Nation of Why Not" to appeal to a much broader mass audience in order to fill the new mega-mega ships. After our experience on this cruise we left feeling "Why Bother?"
We're now looking into other cruise lines where we feel we will be truly treated as valued. As far as cruising with RCCL again? That ship has sailed.