I took this cruise with my husband and several other people we had met online through CruiseCritic before going on our Panama Canal cruise 2 years ago on the Jewel of the Seas (hence the "Gem" Reunion). We had all agreed on this cruise because some of our group worked at schools and needed to go during spring break.
Pre-cruise: We took Around the Clock transit from the Orlando airport to our hotel, Country Inn and Suites. All went smooth with the transfer and it was quite reasonable, saved us money over renting a car. Checked in and enjoyed our stay, for the most part, at the hotel. Went to dinner at Grills the first night and Fish Lips the second night (both very nice places to eat and very accomodating even for a large group (made reservations ahead, though). Visited Kennedy Space Center the day before the cruise and enjoyed that, it was very interesting.
Embarkation: No problems boarding (although we were Platinum and bypassed a very long line getting on with our priorty boarding priveleges). We got to the port by 11:00 and were onboard by noon. Went straight to the Windjammer and had a very nice lunch (although this ended up being our ONLY time we went there for lunch for various reasons - none of which had to do with us not liking it there). After lunch, checked out our dining room table (on deck 5 of the main dining room) and by then the rooms were ready for us.
Stateroom: Cabin 7708 was FABULOUS! Room was average size with a love seat in it, plenty of storage that I was able to put everything away and stow our luggage without having anything outside of storage. Balcony was absolutely wonderful. It was very large and had both shade and sun areas most of the time. You could see out the side of the ship and the back wake area too. This was my favorite part of the ship - for sure.
Food: We chose main seating dining. We enjoyed the food in the dining room as usual as well as the waiter's entertainment. Our wait staff was sometimes a little slow, but some of that was due to reasons out of their control much of the time (ie: people arriving late, ordering wine, my husband choosing multiple appetisers, etc). We didn't get to any specialty restaurants because they were booked for the times we wanted, however our table companions did, and were not pleased with their experiences there (very slow and not so good food).
Entertainment: The entertainment was probably the usual for RCCL (well above average), but for some reason, I only really liked a couple of the shows (the magician - Drew Thomas, the aerialists and the ice show). I was extremely aggravated with the crowds at our showing, though. It seems that everyone seems to show up for the main seating's show and you can rarely find any seats if you arrive anytime after 15 minutes before the show. I guess that My Time Dining has messed up the balance of those two shows.
CocoCay was very nice (though cold and too cold for much swimming). I knew the secret about going off to the far right when you come off the tenders - but I guess many people are learning that because it was much more balanced in people being everywhere than my previous trip there where everyone stayed right across from where the tenders left you off.
St Thomas was beautiful. We did a RCCL excursion (St John Snorkel and Beach Tour) which took up most of our time there. The tour was nice, but not enough time for snorkeling if you ask me (only a little over an hour). We did a little shopping right there at the Havensight Mall before our tour, but no time to explore St Thomas otherwise. Got back on ship right before sailing and had to rush to get cleaned up and made it to dinner 45 minutes late yet our waiter insisted that he could serve us (and did so with the same end time as we would have had we been there on time).
St Martin: Our group took a private tour with Joyce Prince. She was very accommodating to do exactly what we wanted for the day. She spent almost 7 hours with us, taking us all over the island and only charged $40/pp. I would recommend her again. St Martin is beautiful. We wish we would have had more time there as well, but that's for future cruises.
Pros: This ship is big and beautiful and has so much to do. My husband (50 yrs old) even tried the FlowRider and the attendants were very patient and helpful with him. We tried to do everything there was to offer to do but couldn't because there just wasn't enough time. Honestly, the balcony alone was enough to enjoy on this ship.
Cons: The crowds of people really got to me. This was our first time on one of the bigger ships and I think I'll keep to the smaller ones. I wish they could do more to prevent all of the lines (getting on/off the ship, going into the dining room, getting in and out of the theater, etc). Way too often I just felt like cattle being herded. I've never felt that as much as this time on the smaller ships. You really had to plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time for waiting. Also, as stated before, the theater imbalance between shows and not being able to find seats at the main dining show was quite upsetting. I also would never do a spring break cruise again because of all of the teens/young adults. They took over many of the venues.
Overall I would say I enjoyed this cruise (I don't think I would ever NOT enjoy a cruise), but it taught me that I would prefer to stay to the smaller ships.