We flew into LAX the day before & had a limo waiting for the kids--they were tickled with the surprise! We stayed at the San Pedro Doubletree & was pleasantly surprised that it was more resort-like than I expected.
We headed over to the port at 10:00 Sunday and there were about 50 in line in front of us. We were let in about 10:30. First led to one set of chairs, then called to check in, led to another set of chairs. Unfortunately they did not open for embarkation until 12:15, and then there was standing room only in our section, and hearing them call for numbers was an issue. We did embark with little issue, and were actually on board by 12:40--tho your room isn't "ready" until 1:00 (not much fun to haul carry ons..) Walked around a bit, dropped luggage, headed to Windjammer for lunch--BIG mistake. NOWHERE to sit. We chose to head back to Promenade for a calmer bite to eat.
We had adjoining Oceanview cabins. Much nicer for the 5 of us than our Family Suite was on Disney. Always room for everything. I prefer Princess' set up with the large open closet that faces the bathroom, which gives privacy to dressing but does chop the room up a bit. We were on the second floor--loved the easy access to Promenade, casino. Ryan was a lovely lovely steward--he chatted often with us & the kids.
It was too cool to hit the pool so we just toured the ship. We made the kids go to kids club & teen club the first night & they made fast friends and were there every evening--in fact, our 10 year old son spent 2 port days at kids club, his choice!
Dinner with Henri was always wonderful--he knew what we wanted before we even asked. I was very pleased with RCCL food after hearing so many bad reports--I was particularly impressed with dessert & I'm not a dessert person (basically if it had coconut, I was in heaven; DD12 is a chocoholic & almost overdosed)! Also several pastas were great--and I don't consider myself a good pasta person! Escargots--YUM.
Windjammer was remarkably good(not a huge buffet fan), but seating could be a real issue. Breakfast & lunch in MDR was fast & yummy. Promenade was good but I was sick of ham & cheese croissants by the end of the week. I really missed pizza & burgers by the pool on Princess. Just wished there were more free food choices.
The ports were fine. Cabo the beach was FANTASTIC but the vendors are relentless. Mazatlan we never left the port shopping area; had fun at the bar/shopping there. Peurta Vallarta was a big hit w/ the kids--felt like FLorida. They insisted we hit the mall across the street first! Then headed to "downtown" for their first experience at Senor Frogs--thankfully it was not busy, but we had a very fun waiter.
Sea days coming back were quite brisk (hit the pool on the first sea day!)--not exactly the warm pool days in the Caribbean. We did like the large whirlpools. We do feel that Princess had a wider range of activities available at any given time...there was some dead time for us this cruise (unheard of!)But by the end of the week we were in our groove. Bingo is busier on Princess, but trivia was busier (and Fun!) on RCCL. Love & marriage show, entertaining as always.
Casino much bigger than Princess, but we like their hosts better--more visible.
We did play in Poker tourneys--DH, DB & I all made the final 9 on Saturday; then we were top 3!! The guys got cash for 2/3 & I won a cruise on the Allure for first!!! Funny, as I had mentioned to DH that the Oasis or the Allure was my ship of choice for his 50th in 2 years...guess next Dec. it is!
Disembarkation was smooth & fast; there was a bit of a delay getting our van, but it didn't take too long to get worked out.
Overall, we felt that RCCL was comparable to Princess and would not hesitate to sail them again. The kids said RCCL was WAY better than DCL. I doubt we will sail MX Riviera again, prefer the heat & relaxed nature of the Caribbean.