We flew in from Toronto the night before departure (Oct 9) just as a precaution. We rented a car from MCO and drove to Port Canaveral (40-50mins drive) where we stayed the night. Cost was cheaper than taking an airport shuttle to Port Canaveral. Our rent-a-car company (budget) had complementary shuttles to and from the docks which was an added bonus. Most places drop off and pick up, very efficient, just do your research.
As all the other reviews have mentioned, RC check-in was quick and friendly. Baggage handling was quick as they took it right off the shuttle buses and brought it to our staterooms. We got on the ship around 1pm and decided to take a self guided tour. I've never been on a ship so big! We found our stateroom, it was "cozy" as real estate agents describe for small rooms. Note: spend a little more money with a balcony view b/c you lose track of the time in the darkness of the stateroom abyss. The stateroom workers work exceeding quick and are very, very friendly, leaving towel animals everywhere.
The Boat and Amenities: At first glance, the Royal Promenade never felt crowded unless it was a special occasion. The crew said that there was 4000 people on board, but it did not look like it. The elevators were slightly on the slower side, but we usually took the stairs instead of waiting it out. From what I experienced the Casino was never full and not too many people smoked, but you could smell it. The gym was big with many cardio machines and the best view! It was usually empty, lol.
I'm not a big fan of sun bathing, however there is much to do besides lying around. My gf and I tried rock wall climbing for our first time in both our lives which was a fun experience. I tried the flowrider only ending up on my back. There was mini putting, basketball, ping pong and an empty arcade with air hockey tables and Bingo. The evening shows in the theater were very well done, just don't be expecting Tony award winning shows. Our host, Paul Ankor (spl) was a comedian to say the least. One person you should definitely catch is the Piano guy (Cory?) at the Schooner Bar in the evening.
Dining: there was the windjammer buffet which was pretty good. I avoided the pizza and burgers and stuck with the other buffet style foods. There was always seating for just the two of us, and there were never big lineups for food. Breakfast was the same everyday, the lunch and dinner menus changed slightly from the previous days. The fine dining was great (Issac Room), and the service was immaculate. We shared a table with three other couples, which was fine. Fyi: Lobster tail was SO good, our table got two plates each! There were nights my gf and I opted out of the long dinners and went straight to the windjammer where it was quite romantic since the lights were turned down low and it was practically empty. We tried Portofino the second night and it was exquisite as well as romantic. The food was just as good, maybe even better then the fine dinning restaurant. There's Johnny Rockets on the upper decks, where there were lineups. Just go during non-busy times if you really want to try it, they do take out as well. In addition, during snacking time, I enjoyed the unlimited supply of free sandwiches, pizza, cookies and desserts found on the Promenade anytime during the day. Again, there were either no lineups or a short line up.
Excursions: The ship stopped off at CoCoCay, St. Thomas, and St. Martin. We were all fortunate that we had nice weather at every stop, since the weeks before had a been affected by a tropical storm. Idk what to suggest since I enjoyed what I did, but it's all about personal preference. I would advise first time cruisers to watch the shopping show to get advice on where to shop while at St. T and St. M.
Hats off to the entertainment, chefs and the rest of the crew for a spectacular time!