Just returned from our first Royal Caribbean cruise, on the Majesty of the Seas. This short cruise (four days) was great value for the cruise fare - under $600 for two. Thanks to a tip found here on the Cruise Critic website, we flew in the day before and stayed at the Hotel Intercontinental in downtown Miami. What a difference it makes to not have to travel the day of departure! Embarkation was easy and quick, and we were on the boat by 1 pm.
Our previous cruises were longer voyages (7 to 14 days) on Celebrity. Of course, those cruises are quite a bit more expensive, so this cruise, while not nearly as posh or sophisticated, was a great value.
Some of the things we like about Celebrity - large cabins, bathrobes, lobster tail, and great food overall, were not found on the Majesty. The food was adequate at best, though thanks to another tip from Cruise Critic, we headed straight to the Compass Deli for sandwiches upon embarkation. The Compass Deli easily has the best food on the ship, and typically there are plenty of tables in which to sit and enjoy your meal. The Compass Deli is just a staircase up from the Windjammer Cafe, though it seems few of the other cruisers were aware of this dining option. The Windjammer serves sushi, which we like as a before dinner appetizer. It was okay by our standards (when not cruising or otherwise on vacation, we reside in central Indiana, not exactly sushi heaven). We really didn't try any of the other offerings from the Windjammer, and none looked all that appealing.
The dinner in the main dining room was a disappointment. On our Celebrity voyages, we found the dinner to be the highlight of the day. On this trip, not so much. The food was passable and the service adequate, but hardly exceptional. Two of the six diners at our table were very disappointed that Royal does not serve lobster tail on the shorter cruises. Some of the better entrees included Atlantic Salmon, Sirloin steak, and Shrimp and Mahi tempura. The desserts were not really worth the calories. Stick to the ice cream or sherbet. Stay completely away from the tiramisu (this was not like any tiramisu I ever had). Breakfast is actually pretty good in the main dining room. However, any coffee addicts should order a pot from room service before heading to the dining room. The queue for a table can take ten minutes, and the few waiters on staff are inattentive. One morning I think it took 30 minutes to get a cup, and that was from the head waiter, not the table waiter. The salmon omelet was especially tasty. There is a very nice cereal/yogurt/fruit bar that some waiters may not know about, so please go help yourself.
The staterooms are tiny and a little worn out. As mentioned earlier, there are no stateroom bathrobes. Actually, if a robe had been hanging in the bathroom, there is a good chance there would be no room to actually stand at the sink and brush your teeth! We had a problem with the stopper in the sink not allowing water to drain. We informed the staff as we made our way to dinner the first night; it took approximately 18 hours to fix this.
There are plenty of bars on the Majesty, and the staff is constantly reminding you of the great deals offered in the shops. The live music is okay; though I would really prefer American standards in the Piano Bar instead of schmaltzy 70s singer/songwriter stuff (think Bye Bye America Pie and Cat's in the Cradle). Standard entertainment such as the Newlywed game and a comic were present on the Majesty. The late night club, the Spectrum, features theme nights such as Michael Jackson music, or 80s music, plus a bizarre contestant-driven game called Quest. Not for the faint of heart. The Majesty staff also likes to get on the ship's loudspeaker and make all sort of announcements. This was a little tiring.
The pool deck is quite nice and the live music a real plus. Two medium sized pools with shallow ends for small children allow plenty of space for everyone. The pools never felt overcrowded. However, Royal swipes your Seapass card before providing a pool towel, with written warnings that towels not returned will cost you $25.
The ports of call were Key West, Nassau, and Coco Cay. We opted for no excursions as this was a budget trip for us. At Key West, we sampled chocolate Key Lime Pie on a stick. We weren't sure about this, but it is actually quite good. We walked around Nassau a bit, and discovered the ladies room at the Nassau McDonalds was cleaner than the ladies room on the Majesty (the Majesty seriously needs additional public restrooms, we often were searching several decks for one). Coco Cay was very nice. We received a tip from dinner companions to head to the right after tendering onto the island as the beach there is a bit quieter and secluded. It was indeed. However, the water there was not conducive to swimming or snorkeling (too shallow), and that area had many, many jellyfish. Fortunately, their sting is less severe than a bee sting; unfortunately we found this out with first-hand experience.
We did return to the busier part of the island to partake in lunch from "Blackbeard's Grille." Uugh. Wish we could have packed a lunch. How do you screw up a hot dog? Serve it cold, of course. We did find a few hamburger patties that were not wallowing in grease -- they were edible. My suggestion is to eat a big breakfast and just skip Blackbeard's altogether. The main swimming / snorkeling area was quite nice, large, and no jellies lurking about. Plenty of fish to look at while snorkeling as well. This was one of the highlights of the cruise.
Overall, this cruise is a great value if you can get a cheap cruise fare. Majesty is not the finest boat in the fleet, but for a short three of four day trip it fills the bill. However, if you are looking for a first-class (or even a second-class) cruise experience, look elsewhere.