We are not first time cruisers, however it is the first time we have sailed with Royal Carribean.
We joined the ship in Singapore, having completed and downloaded the boarding documentation, to save time. This it did, once you arrived at a check in desk, however it took over an hour in a line, with other passengers, just to reach the desk. Prior to booking this holiday, we checked the numerous reviews of this ship, some were not good, some good to very good.
On seeing the ship in singapore, I was very impressed to see in what good shape she was in both externaly and internally, infact I could not in fairness critise anything about her. Our cabin was on deck 2, I would have prefered a higher deck, but on booking there was only a few cabins left. Not withstanding that, the cabin was very clean, and remained so through out the 9 day cruise, due to the very proffesional cabin steward.
On the day of sailing, the mandatory life boat drill took place, again this was carried out very well, and indeed only took around 25 mins from start to finish. There was no need to attend any rooms with your life preserver, prior to going to the boat deck. All you needed to do was go straight to your boat station, the number of which is marked on your ship pass, and that was it.
The meals on the ship were very good, with a lot of choice. I had read that people on previous reviews stated the meals were luke warm or cold.I did not find this to be the case
We had booked a late sitting in the restaurant, and indeed decided that we would have a table for two. I noticed that on ordering the meals, the order was dispatched to the galley, then your meal arrived on a plate covered with a plastic cover, not on a hot trolley. I think this is the cause of the meal temp on other reviews. If you are on a large table, you would wait for the slowest eater to finish, and if they are constant chatter box,s, its your meal thats getting cold, so be warned.
The trips were very good value, I would consider booking them on line prior to departure, as there were quite a few passengers who did not do this, and were left only with their second choice.
I booked a wine package prior to the cruise, and found the selection of wines to be good, all packages had sparkling wine, red wines, white wines, but no rose,.
Another pain in the neck you have to get over before you join the vessel is the CHINESE VISA APPLICATION. This is confusing " DO YOU REQUIRE SINGLE ENTRY VISA, OR DOUBLE ENTRY VISA. The cruise we went on stopped in Xiamin China, then sailed to another part, SHANGHAI, arriving there having had a day at sea, between both ports.
Many passengers had through their travel agent been informed that they would need a double entry visa, as they were leaving china on the first chinese port of call, to re-enter some 24hrs later. I had my visa issued by the Chinese office, in Manchester, I sent them the itinery of the ship, with regard to the chinese ports, and they informed me that I only needed a single entry visa, as the day at sea between ports were still in Chinese waters.. So the bottom line on this one is do some research with your Chinese embassy, with regard to your visa, and dont just listen to the travel agent, who will charge you more for a double visa, than a single one. I obtained my visa direct from the chinese embassy and it was cheaper than going through an agency.
The dissembarkation in Shanghai was very simple and of no real hassle.