We are an Australian family and this cruise was our third and last leg of our American Californian holiday and it was the best way to finish it off.
Through cruise critic we were able to get some great ideas. We had a precruise stay at the Doubletree San Pedro and were extremely happy. We booked a harbour view room as I thought we could see the cruise ship, this was not the case but the room and service were great and it was so convenient with the complimentary shuttle. The embarkation was sooo easy. We arrived at about 11.30 and there was no waiting at all. We had our seapass already to go. We should have taken a small carry on bag with us on board with fragile items in it as the loading up of the bags is pretty full on but we had no breakages and no problems. We went straight to the Windjammer and secured a table (just) and enjoyed a beautiful lunch. It was my husbands first cruise on Royal and he has heard me rave about them for the last two years so I was really pleased to see that the ship was spotless and the cruise staff were all fantastic.
Our room was a balcony (how cool) and it was great. We had our 24yr old son with us and our 17yr old daughter so the cabin was way small for the four of us but that was our budgetary choice. Our steward was five stars. She was so quiet, unobtrusive and super efficient. We had My time dining which I would definitely do again. Even though we seemed to always get there at 6.10, we didn't feel the pressure of having to be there at a certain time. Our staff at the table were excellent. The only hiccup we had was the bar service.....it was almost non existent and because the food waiters were so efficient, our predinner drink normally became a desert drink! It was only one particular drink staff that was the problem and when my husband made a little noise, the head waiter was so efficient in rectifiying the problem it was a bit embarrasing, but in an excellent way. Our 24yr old had the cruise of his life and loved it. Our 17yr old became sick on board and we had to use the medical facilities on board. The Doctor we saw was fantastic, lovely and kind. It cost us $500!!!!!!!but that's what Insurance is for. She found the teen club was really great for meeting new people and she met some great friends. She has cruised before with Royal and others and found the staff for the teenagers sat back a lot more and let the kids organise themselves. This was a bit disappointing for her as normally they get involved, dance and play games with them.
The entertainment was very mixed. Needless to say, the Ice Show was excellent and the Beatles tribute was great. We did not really enjoy the Royal Carribean dancers and singers....Individually they were very good, costumes were excellent but the material they had to work with was very poor. The dancers were shoved to the back too much and there was too much singing of songs no one has ever heard before and gospel type of music is not my scene. This was a pity as our last Royal cruise the dancers and singers had great material. The Cruise Director was very funny but it was a hard act for the other comedians on board as they came nowhere close. I would rather have had a show with the cruise director!!
We took three tours. The first was a ship tour in Cabo San Lucas. Do not bother buying any souvenirs in this port as they are soo expensive. They are more expensive than Disneyland souvenirs!! Very pretty place but the ship tour we went on (City highlights) was very mundane.
The second tour we took was a private tour with Frank Mazatlan at Mazatlan and this was fantastic. He is the best tour guide and we loved Mazatlan because of Frank. Our third tour was in Puerto Vallarta and we did ziplining and rappelling. It was a great experience but considering the mexican wages, the prices for photography was nothing short of extortion. This was our first attempt at doing a tour outside the ship and we were very impressed and will do more next time.
The disembarkation progress with customs was a nightmare. Too few custom officers for too many travellers from outside USA. Standing in line for over an hour at 7am in the morning is not acceptable. We took the option of taking our own luggage off the ship and it worked really well.
All in all, this cruise was fantastic. Royal Carribean are definitely up there with the best and we will be cruising again soon with them.