We were a family group of seven...four 60ish adults, two 30-somethings and a six month old baby. We were looking forward to our cruise on Royal Caribbean with great expectations as all except one in our group had cruised together before on Crystal, Windstar, Carnival, Regent, Azamara and Oceania and had enjoyed it immensely. This was the first cruise for my nephew's wife.
We arrived at the Port of Miami on Monday at about 12:00. Check in was smooth and uneventful. Cabins may not be entered until 1:00 and this is strictly enforced. Two of our four cabins were junior suites on Deck 10 and two were standard ocean view cabins on Deck 9. The suites were comfortable but not what one would call luxurious. There were no bath amenities. Robes and coffee and tea makers were nice touches in the suites. The suite balconies were spacious but only had chairs...not loungers. We asked for loungers and they were delivered within a few hours, thanks to our very competent cabin stewardess. There is a very wide ceiling overhang above the balconies in midship which blocks a large part of the sky view you would otherwise have. It is clear that these balconies were retrofitted rather than having been original to the ship. If you like tot sleep with the sliding glass door open so that you can hear the sound of the ocean waves, be advised that the smell of engine oil comes into the cabin if you do so.
The standard ocean view cabins on Deck 9 were extremely small. the "windows" in those cabins are little more than portholes. If you are at all claustrophobic, the extra expense for the junior suite is well worth it.
We unpacked and then went to the Windjammer for lunch. There were lines for all the buffet stations and getting tables was very difficult due to the crowds. The guests appeared to be primarily in their twenties and thirties....more on that later! The food at the Windjammer was standard cafeteria-type food. We hoped for better food in the main dining rooms, but better food was not to be had there either. Two of our group had prearranged for Kosher food. They reported that the Kosher food was very good. Janet, our assistant Maitre D handled the details of the Kosher food very well. The service she provided was excellent...and this was a high point of our cruise. Janet made sure that the next day's menu was presented and that orders were placed for each day. She even arranged for my nephew and his wife to be able to dine on the Kosher food in their cabin. I am vegetarian and there are sufficient vegetarian choices at each meal. Our wait staff in the main dining room were all very good, especially Mehmet!
The quality of the food however was below par. The menus at dinner were very limited as to choice. The food itself was not "gourmet" in any sense of the word and did not compare to what we had experienced on Crystal, Regent, Azamara, Oceania, 0r Windstar. All of those lines have food that is far superior to that of Royal Caribbean. If you are a "foodie" Royal Caribbean is not for you! We were disappointed by all of the "nickel and diming" that occurred during our cruise. One morning we decided to have breakfast in the main dining room specifically because the menu offered "freshly squeezed orange juice". This fact was also touted in the ship's daily newsletter. What was not mentioned in the newsletter or anywhere else was that there is an additional charge of $2.50 for the fresh squeezed orange juice! Soda is extra...you must purchase a $25.00 card in order to be able to avoid a by-the- glass charge. The water and cans of soda in the minibars are extra as well. There is a cafe, but you must pay extra for the coffee there. There is a Johnny Rockets, but you must pay $5.00 extra if you want to eat there.
Hope you don't need to go to sleep before 3:00 AM! We paid about double the cost of a standard ocean view cabin for our junior suite with balcony located on deck 10. What we were not told was that on Tuesday night there is a pool party on deck 11...right above the suites, that starts at 11:00 PM and consists of a DJ playing extremely load music and encouraging the parties to jump up and down to the music. At each jump, we thought our ceiling was going to fall in. Finally after two and a half hours of this, I called the front desk and asked how much longer the pounding was going to go on. I was told "until 2:30 or 3:00". No "I'm sorry for the inconvenience" no sympathy whatsoever. After I continued to tell them that this was unacceptable, they did offer me a cabin for the night on deck 3, but then changed their minds and told me there was no other cabin available. Needless to say, I was not able to go to sleep until the party was over after 3 AM. I spoke to the "customer service" representative at the front desk the following day, and again there was no apology, and no concern for what had occurred. All that he said to me was that the pool party is a "scheduled event" and that's just how it has to be...they can't do anything about it. The representative did say that "we only had two other complaints about it"....as if that was a good thing!!! You will not experience the level of service on this ship that you would expect even at a Holiday Inn. Finally after speaking with another representative about the sleepless night, I was offered a credit of 25% of the cost of this cruise towards a future cruise on Royal Caribbean and a $50.00 credit against the cost of this cruise. However, after this experience I won't be able to use the 25% credit...there will be no future Royal Caribbean cruises or me other the other six people in my group.