My hubby and I have cruised many times but this was our first experience with RCCL. I have to say it is right up there in our great times in cruising. We live in Florida so we took Cruise Connection Bus to get to the port. This is the third time we have chosen to leave the driving to someone else and it is a great way to go. The bus is very comfortable and lots of leg room for my 6'3" hubby. There is a restroom aboard and they play a movie to help pass the time. No bag drag and they take you right to the front door so to speak where a porter is waiting. We booked through RCCL which is a price break to do it that way. We were on the ship by 11:30a ready for lunch.
We went to Meet and Mingle and I headed up a Cabin Crawl after the M/M. We had about 10 people and were able to view several types of cabins. I think this is a great way to be able to view staterooms.
Our Grand Suite was mid ship just a few doors down from the Concierge Lounge. We had cocktails and hor dourves every afternoon at 5P till dinner and since we chose early dining we we able to come back for last call at 8P. Bernie our waiter in the lounge never let our glasses empty. Jasmine the Concierge was able to arrange a private cocktail party we held for our table mates in our stateroom one evening before dinner which was a great success with more than enough hor dourves. She also arranged for us to have a Bridge Tour and a Engine Control Room tour. My only concern was we seemed to have a communication issue due to language and I had to keep following up on everything as I never got a warm and fuzzy feeling things were being handled but everything did finally work out but I felt that if I did not followup on everything it might have not turned out. We met great people in the lounge but two of the couples really help make our cruise a success as we all just clicked and had the most fun ever. I don't think my hubby has ever laughed so much. And since they live in Florida we are planning on staying in touch.
The one thing in the lounge is they have a soposs to have dress code after 5pm which you should not have shorts/bathing suits and also no children. Since the lounge if small I think this a a good thing. But this was not really enforced and we saw some guest could not be accommodated due to stroller in aisle. Also children helping themselves to hor douvers with fingers. Also teenagers in skimpy shorts. Only after some complained about the stroller/child to Concierge was that rectified.
I sang every night they offered Karaoke, but my real treat was in Schooners singing with Vic Cooper the piano player. I ended up sitting in with him every night he played.
We booked the Wine and Dinner pairing at Chops which was nice and food good but RCCL could not get many guest for this as only 6 of us booked and I do believe they only offered this one night. I would of loved to have the Jewel offer Chef's Table. We also booked the Mystery Dinner at Portofino's. The show was hokey and not like other Mystery dinner shows I have seen in other venues which are more comedy and clever but all in all I would recommend both.
There was a medical emergency aboard just a couple days into sailing which we had to make a stop in Labadee which was not one of our ports to take care of the guest as they had to leave ship. We ended up with another night at sea (did not lengthen cruise just shortened time on other port) which was no issue for me whatsoever.
We booked the Deluxe Cartagena and Fortress tour through RCCL which if I had to do again would not book as the bus was just a large van and hot and uncomfortable. They hustled you through the fort and dancing show to really get you to their "cousin" to be able to sell you something at their shops. The other tour we booked also through RCCL was in Colon. We booked Gatun Locks and Canal Zone. The Lock tour was wonderful marvel but again they made a 1 hour stop at Melia Hotel for a drink. Non of us could figure out why. The hotel had a great pool and if they told us to bring a suit to jump in we might of done that. I would of rather stayed at the Lock or back in town to shop, The Hotel did not really have a good bar (only beer)and not even a gift shop. Non of us could figure out why this was even in tour. I usually booked tours through the cruise line but after this, I may consider just taking a cab.
We booked the Thermal Suite which I was glad it was offered as love the hot ceramic chaise lounges. One bed was not in working order. Since there was alway space it was not concern but I just thought it should be noted. This TS package did not offer a mineral whirlpool which I have seen on other ships. It would of been nice if they had that. Still something I would recommend espcially if you have a bad back and shoulders.
We booked the wine package since you are not allowed to bring a bottle aboard as we have done on other ships. I saw on other CC post some had issued not having their wine that that selected available. That was not our case as we always were able to get the wine we selected.
I will say we really enjoyed our cruise, but we find we have had a great time on all cruises as it is what YOU make it. I find the more I cruise it is not the ports it is the ship and the great people you meet.