We decided to take a short cruise for a long weekend and picked RCCL to cruise with. We usually cruise with Seabourn but short hops have been on Celebrity and Princess. Check in was fairly smooth and embarking the ship and finding our cabin was effortless. Our cabin steward was there to greet us with a friendly smile. Our first encounter at the Windjammer Restaurant for a buffet lunch was fairly hectic with a limited selection, which included pasta, stir fires, a different carved meat each day, hot dogs and hamburgers which had previously been cooked and stacked in a pan, small salad selection and a dessert bar with fairly unattractive offerings. One nice touch, self service soft serve ice cream in the Windjammer and on the pool deck, was appreciated by young and old. Breakfast and lunch can also be enjoyed in the main dining room which is a nice alternative to the Windjammer Cafe. We spent our days reading in the rather large Solarium pool area for adults only. This was adjacent to the main pool and was a fairly quiet place to spend our time.
Two out of the four nights we ate in the specialty restaurants and the remaining two we did My Time Seating where we requested and were seated promptly at 8:00PM at a table for two, without a wait. It was a welcome change from the traditional 6:30 and 8:30 seatings. Service was fair and we felt rushed in the main dining room. There was a good selection of appetizers and entrees but the food was only fair. Desserts were much better than expected and the wine list offered a good selection of reasonably priced bottles. The second night we ate in the Portofino specialty restaurant for $20 a person and the food and service were very good. I was able to make this reservation online although the restaurant did not appear to be at capacity. The fourth night we ate at Chops for a $25 per person surcharge. The food was good there but not as well prepared as it was at Portofino. No one told us to leave room for the midnight buffet that was held that night, so we just went up to the pool deck to watch others gorge themselves on hot dogs, chicken fingers, desserts, etc. and we had a good laugh.
Entertainment on the ship was good although one of the revues was music from very old Broadway shows and rather boring. The show on the last night was more contemporary and we enjoyed it a lot more. The huge seating area was never full. We saw the Ice Dance show and it was very professional and entertaining and we were amazed at the quality of the skating in a fairly small ice rink. We also got to watch the end of the NCAA final game in the same room and that was a nice touch as well.
The Promenade is fun to walk on but fairly limited in the quantity and quality of items for sale. Each day there were new "sales" of cheap items put out to entice you to spend money but nothing was very appealing. The last day tee shirts were brought out to the main pool and sold for two for $20 which was a good way to get souvenirs for friends and relatives. Perfumes were relatively expensive and there was a very limited selection. Liquor was well priced but had to be picked up on the day of departure which seemed like a hassle, unlike other lines that deliver it to your door the night before.
The casino is large and there are a lot of slot machines. It may have filled up later in the evening but between 10 and 12, there were not that many people playing. As expected, there were art auctions, dance lessons, bingo, etc. but we preferred to read our books. Another nice touch was the "Make a Wish" walk which RCCL does to raise money to take deserving children on cruises with their families. Eight of the ten dollars spent on the shirt went to the charity.
My birthday was the last day of the cruise and when my husband went to the Front Desk to see if he could buy a card, they offered to send chocolate dipped strawberries. They also threw in a bottle of champagne, which was quite a surprise and we were both very appreciative.
All in all, the staff was very friendly, the ship was fairly well appointed and clean and we had a really nice weekend away. Disembarkation was not quite as smooth as embarkation since there were many people, all trying to drag their bags down to the first floor. It was nice that we could leave any time up to 10:15 which would have been leisurely if we didn't have to wait on line to go through customs along with people from an even larger Carnival ship but one can't blame RCCL for that.