Embarkation was easy as has been described by many. The baggage porters at Fort Lauderdale seemed a bit miffed that I only tipped them less than $10 for the few bags they had to handle but I ignored that "gesture" since I tip based on the quality of service I receive.
We were booked into an Owner's Suite on Deck 11 just a few steps from the elevators and the concierge lounge which we used frequently. Due to our Crown and Anchor Diamond status we received and participated in several events during the cruise; some were enjoyable; some not so much. More on that shortly.
The ship was in excellent condition and as usual very clean. Staff were for the most part friendly and helpful. There is much to see and do aboard and I don;t quite undertstand the complaints from some about how they "couldn't see the ocean" or how they "didn't think they were on a ship," etc. Hey, if you want to see the water then book an appropriate cabin.
As is the usual with Royal, decoration was somewhat understated and elegant without being too garish. Art aboard was extremely interesting and unusual.
The ship was TOTALLY sold out and beyond mere double occupancy. However it never felt crowded; we never had to wait long for anything INCLUDING elevator rides. As to the whines about the Windjammer not having any tables available, even though we ate there several times and it was BUSY we never had to look far for a table.
The cabin: big as one would EXPECT and there was PLENTY of storage space. The bathroom had a separate jetted tub and shower plus two sinks, lots of hot water, and everything else one really needs. Only one electrical outlet (for razors). And despite the cabin size, the only electrical outlet in the bedroom was 220 V. Had I known this I would have brought an adaptor but had to get one from the Concierge.
Food: sorry, but we thought the food in the main dining room was mediocre at best and we had the BEST-located table (#135) which is right next to the Captain's Table on the lower level. Service: TERRIBLE, unfortunately, and this is the one time I wish we had not opted for pre-paid gratuities. They "warn" you that you should expect the meal to take at least an hour and sometimes it was longer than that. Our waiter was poor at best and we were several times given the wrong menus, were the last table to be served, etc. As a result we took several of our main meals in other venues including the Windjammer where there was a much larger variety of food available. Yes, the breakfast was "the same every day" but that "same" included a lot of choices I rather doubt most people get at home so that frequent whine eludes my understanding.
Many pools and never a problem finding a place to lounge.
Entertainment: "Hairspray' was very well done; "Come Fly With Me" somewhat less so. Comedy venue was good and the ice show was even better than the one we saw on "Freedom" our last cruise. The aqua theatre shows were entertaining but if you've seen Cirque du Soleil then some of this seems a bit less than great BUT they did a good job overall and folks seemed to love it.
Lots of shopping opportunity on board, mainly watches and the usual "sales" which reminded me of a feeding frenzy with plenty of pushing and shoving by folks looking for Walmart-level merchandise.
Ports: Nassau...the usual attitudes by some store workers and the downtown area hasn't changed much...gritty and peeling around the edges. At the comedy club one night the biggest laugh came from the statement: "I think the most exciting thing about Nassau was returning to the ship!" St. Thomas and St. Martin seemed the better choices for shopping as they have in the past.
Concierge Lounge was excellent with served breakfasts and lunch plus the early evening canapes and cocktails; airline boarding pass printing and last-minute access to "sold out" shows. Yes, folks, you GET what you pay for and more and more it seems like the "extra tariff" revenue production is gaining the upper hand.
Overall, we enjoyed the ship with the exception of a few niggles and we would cruise on it again if it were on a different itinerary.