First, I had not cruised in two years, and this 12-day cruise was great.
The last time I cruised on Royal Caribbean was more than 10 years ago. I had in recent years enjoyed cruising with Carnival, Celebrity and NCL with my recent cruises with NCL. I decided to give RCI another chance because it was a 12 day cruise and the price was right.
I love leaving for a cruise from the NYC area since I live in Long Island and only take cruises that leave from the NYC area to avoid flying, especially with the new costs for flying with luggage, it becomes prohibitive!
The boarding from the time I pulled up to the pier to the time I was on the ship was an hour...fantastic!
Very nice, easy to navigate and find everything quickly...good signage.
Stateroom: Aft Balcony with an architectural obstruction.
Loved my cabin even with the obstruction which blocked out very little of my panoramic view from the back of the ship. The cabin was average but nice, but the balcony was large with room for a nice table and chairs and two lounges.
Food and Beverage:
Main Dining Room: Very good with plenty of variety each night.
Windjammer Buffet: Plenty of Variety as well with more choices and also very tasty. Loved the sushi each night and enjoyed this each night before going to the late seating in the main dining room.
Negatives: I was used to getting espresso with each meal on NCL with no cost.
On RCI, there is a charge, but I must say that in the Main Dining Room, the regular coffee was very good.
No food was available on outside decks like Celebrity and NCL.....this was a bit disappointing. The Windjammer Buffet with no outside seating is the only option. The dining room is closed on port days.
Specialty Restaurant: Good, but not outstanding....a bit disappointing compared with NCL's, Celebrity's restaurants.
Service: Fantastic in the Main Dining Room. Our waiter and assistant waiter (Augusto and Olivia) were the best we have ever had in recent cruising and reminded me of the type of service I had received in my early days of cruising in the 80's.
Entertainment: The signature shows (dancers and singers) were very disappointing...not at all that I was used to seeing on NCL, Disney and Celebrity ships that I have cruised in the past.
The comedian, the Cruise Director and his staff were great and did a great job with the small events(karaoke, quest, love and marriage, etc.) The ice show was very good.
Labadee: One of the better private islands I have been to...with plenty to do.
The people selling the crafts in the craft area were like sharks..wanting to buy their items. They practically pull you from one vendor to another.
Dominican Republic: Had a private tour with Terry from Samana to La Playita Beach. Great Tour with lunch and drinks included and a beautiful quiet beach.
St. Thomas: Turtle Cove - ship's excursion...great excursion that combines great snorkeling with rum refreshments on the way back on the schooner..one of the best excursions I have ever been on (3-4 hours).
St. Kitts: Enjoyed a nice beach, the view and water were beautiful.
Watch out for the "Monkey Man" near the bar near the pier. He has monkeys that he let's you take pictures with and then asks you for $20/person for the photos that you have taken with your camera.
Antigua: Jolley Beach...beautiful beach, but the water was murky...not as clear as the other beaches. Great beach bar and restaurant with $2 beers.
St. Maarten: Dawn Beach....my favorite Beach...beautiful and very clear....not crowded and good food and drinks at Mrs. Bugsby - the beach bar and restaurant.
RCI's liquor and wine policy is ridiculous and I will probably not cruise on their ships again because of this policy. If you like a nice wine with your dinner, this cruise line is not for you.
Their wine choices are very limited (e.g. one Pignot Grigio which was terrible in their wine package) and you are not able to bring any wine on board even if you are willing to pay a corkage fee as other cruise lines allow.
No liquor purchase for the cabin. NCL allows you to purchase bottles and set ups for your stateroom consumption...great if you like to enjoy a drink from your balcony.
Internet: Very slow and expensive. With the premium package it is 40 cents per minute.
Loved the cruise, my stateroom, ports and the length of the cruise.
Pluses and minuses as compared to the other cruise lines I have been on.
If it were not for their liquor and wine policy, poor shows, RCI woulkd be one of my favorites.
Probably going back to NCL and Celebrity.