The price with Royal was pretty high as compared to Carnival, but we were sailing to Bermuda (graduates choice) and Carnival didn't go there. A close family friend was our travel agent for everyone, she can get the best deals and upgrades, didn't matter this 5 day Royal was more than a 9 day Carnival. I sucked it up because I assumed it would be worth it.
Getting to the pier at Cape Liberty in Bayonne, NJ was horrible, what should have been a 2+ hour trip was closer to 4, and this was a Saturday morning, when assumable traffic should have been light. The pier is actually a run-down, collapsing, abandon military post. If it wasn't for the 500 cars in line, I would have never assumed I was even at the right place.
Baggage drop off was insane, I was told to drive past the tent (yes, tent) and someone would flag me in. I drove past, no one flagged, next think I knew I was headed out the exit, neat !! I got to wait in line all over again.
Security guards were the most insane rent-a-cops I have ever encountered. When one of the younger members of the group took a picture of a Royal Caribbean poster, hanging on a white wall, near the metal detectors, he was practically tackled to the ground by three guards who demanded that he turn his phone over to them and show them how to delete that picture. A terrorist could slip past these knuckleheads, but a 20 year old with a cell phone may have to be arrested. I tried to make conversation with the bus driver that moves you between the terminal and ship, he utterly and completely ignore me. I should note here that the reason I was able to talk to him was because the bus was so full I was standing in the step-well.
The ship was sold out, so it was very very full. You can plan on 10 min waits for elevators only to have them open and be full. Dozens of times I abandon the elevators for the steps. The daily cruise paper listing the events was wrong ... every single day. They didn't even know what day it was, it kept saying it was Friday on Tuesday, and the ship was in port on Saturday when it was Thursday. It became a game everyday of asking Royal Caribbean employees if an event was happening and seeing how many different, and definitive, answers you could get. The right hand had no idea what the left hand wad doing.
It was very windy out at sea, the deck chairs by the pool were not just sliding, but physically blowing through the air. The pool waiters would climb over them on their hands and knees rather than slide them back into place. I seen one waiter trip over the same cup twice, and still not pick it up. Apparently their job is to only hawk drinks. During one of the days at sea, it was so windy that a metal piece of the ship blew off, crashed into the deck, kept blowing, gaining speed, and ended up in the ocean on the other side of the ship. If this metal had hit you, YOU WOULD BE DEAD !! Be safe and bring a helmet & chain-mail armor.
The air conditioning in the cabin was just adequate, we kept it full blast the entire time. The railing on the balcony was solid steel (as compared to glass on Carnival) so don't think you can sit in the chairs they give you and see anything, I am 5'9" and could not see over it. I wasn't on the balcony 10 mins the entire 5 days.
The Windjammer cafe was adequate food, avoid the eggs, scrambled & omelette's. They are not equipped to handle a ship of people, all you ever heard was announcements to please leave your seats if you were done. You couldn't leave your seat unguarded, or you would lose it, guaranteed. Never in 5 days was our group able to sit together in the Windjammer.
Dinner seating found our large table in the entrance to the MDR, not actually in the room. It felt very out of place, like we were added later. Another large table next to ours expressed the same thing. Dinner was pretty slow, our large table of 13 slowed it down even more. Quite often we were the last one to leave at night (late seating) One night we had to rush dinner, skip dessert, to get to a 10:45 show.
I could go on and on here, but you get the jest of what I am saying. I certainly didn't feel like I was treated "royally." The entire cruise I felt like this was the first time Royal Caribbean has ever sailed in its life.
The buses were dangerously overcrowded, only one of six buses I was on had barely adequate AC, the rest were literal sweat boxes. I honestly believe I seen people passing out. The ferries were filled to capacity, but at least they counted when you got on. This didn't mean you were going to get a seat.
I went to Elbow Beach while I was there. The beach was pretty dirty, beer bottles, liquor bottles, garbage. It was a very long walk from the bus stop. The only "services" that were there was a hot dog vendor on the roadway. It was like a savior though, because we had drank all our water in the 2.5 hour bus ride to get there. The $2.50 she charged for 12oz of water seemed pretty reasonable at that point. There are hotels on both sides of the beach, one was a sit down restaurant, nothing to-go, and the other would only serve you if you were guests at their hotel.
The highlight of Bermuda was the aquarium & zoo, both were excellent and well maintained. The proximity you could get to the animals was much different then in the US.
My overall impression of Bermuda is that they still have not figured out how to handle the large crowds. I could see things would have gone much smoother if there were 1000 people instead of 6000. In comparison, USVI & BVI seem to be much better at it.