The ship - just what you'd expect from RCI. Very good. No complaints. Plenty of loungers due to 'no reserving' policy working. Drink prices high - ave. $8 for a drink (though they were all doubles).Plus 15% added on as a tip! Not allowed to bring alcohol on board but we took a bottle of vodka in our case without a problem. Many people did. Plenty to do on ship, too much to do everything each day. A must see - the Ice Show. Gym is excellent and never too busy. Entertainment in main theatre at night was dire tho' - a classical violinist one night, a virtuoso concert pianist another 'production shows' no where near the standard I've seen from RCI in the past. All very talented people but not to my taste at all. Without exception, the crew were hard-working, courteous,and helpful. Activities staff (esp Carlos, Richard, Alison and Aubrey) were stars! Any activities involving them - go to! You're guaranteed fun! Abundance of food choices in Windjammer for breakfast and lunch. Everything very good and tasty. Busy in Windjammer at times but always got a table. Dining room menu - less choice than on previous cruises and definately slightly smaller portions, though the food was delicious. We were at 2nd sitting and felt the service was a bit slow. Note - most nighta the 'second meal sitting' theatre show took place before the sitting, not after, as was always the case in the past. Also, ask for 'medium/rare' steak and it will be raw! Went to Chops Grille - worth the 'cover charge' but take a drink in with you from one of the bars - $14 (+15% tip!) for the cheapest glass of wine in Chops Grille! As the ship was sailing from Rome, we knew there would be many Italians aboard and had read on review sites how rude they were. They were very, very, very rude. Never heard of queues and were constantly barging in front of you to get on lifts, get to seats, get to anywhere! Smoking in some of the bars and almost anywhere on the decks ('no smoking' area signs were not enforced)was really annoying.
Messina - Ship docks literally 50 years from main road. Nothing to see in town Didn't do any tour. Only spent about 2 hours in Messina. Disembarking was orderly at the end of the cruise,with different cabins being alloted different times to leave - varied from 5.45 am to 10.45 am. If yours is too early, go to the Pursers desk and get a set of different colour-coded luggage labels ( the colour indicates the disembarkation time)to attach to your cases. Just make sure that you don't leave the ship too late to make your connections elsewhere!
Overall, there is little to complain about with regards to the ship, the service, the food, the activities on board, and the ports of call. Only criticism is the high on-board prices, the pressure to 'tip' attendants too much (surely some of the high price we pay for the Cruise must go to the wages of these hard-working people without RCI putting pressure on US to pay them! I'd tip anyway, but not to the extent of the $240 RCI said we should!)
I would cruise with RCI again, and would highly recommend this cruise for the ports of call alone.