My husband and I are both in our early fifties and this was our first European cruise. We flew from Chicago to Barcelona with a change in planes in Madrid. Royal Caribbean booked our flights for us and they did a wonderful job. Flights were great. We flew in a day early and spent one night at the Hotel Diagonal in Barcelona. The hotel was beautiful and the room was spacious with a wonderful view. The only problem we had here was that the room should have been ready by 2:00 and we couldn't get in until about 3:30. We walked to the famous Sagrada Familia Church. It is a MUST see, the church is breathtaking. We didn't go inside but just looking at the outside is fantastic. Our pick-up time from RCCL was 10:15 the next morning and we were on the ship by 11:10 a.m. - very quick and easy. We didn't explore the ship too much because the Voyager class is our favorite class of ship and we have been on a few of them. The ship is beautiful but she is starting to show her age. The windows really needed to be cleaned and the glass on our balcony needed to be cleaned also. It could be that the ship had just come off of a transatlantic cruise - but still. She also needs to have some rust scraped and painted. The crew was very friendly. Doc at the pool bar was funny and Robert in the casino bar was wonderful. He is actually the type of employee that RCCL needs to have all over the ship. Our waiter was Nicholas and our assistant waiter was Andrew. Although they were friendly and a joy to talk to - the service was VERY slow and the head waiter only made things worse by screwing things up. Peter, the dining room bartender is a fun guy also. Food was good and the choices were good. We were a bit upset that we didn't have a "lobster night". We really missed it and we feel that RCCL has made a huge mistake by getting rid of it. We ate at Portofino's right when the ship was departing Barcelona - as usual - it was GREAT! The only other thing I wish RCCL would do is enforce the dining room dress code - it's amazing what some people will wear to dinner much less formal night! Wow!
Entertainment on the ship was very good. Our headliner show was a group called the East Coast Boys. They are a Frankie Valli knock off and they are fantastic. Do not miss this show if it's offered. We also saw the ice show on board - it was wonderful - also not to be missed! The singer in the piano bar was good as well as the guy in the pub. I just wish they would get rid of the whole karaoke thing - it's getting old and most of the people cannot sing at all.
Activities on the ship were good - they kept everyone busy, although with long touring days - they could of done some of the nighttime parties a bit earlier so you could enjoy them. Having to get up at 6:00 for a 10 hour tour, kind of makes you not want to go to a 70's street party at 11:30.
We disembarked in Venice. RCCL took care of our transfers to our hotel. It was quick and easy and we were off the ship by 8:45 a.m., grabbed our luggage and breezed thru the customs booth. They basically just checked our passports and nodded us thru. We spent one night at the Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal. This was a wonderful place to stay. Close to the water buses and taxis and gondola rides. Shopping was right across the canal along with many cafes to choose from. Just a fantastic and convenient place to stay. Breakfast was included so we ate well before being taken to the airport. The Venice airport has very long lines, so plan on standing in one for an hour or so. We flew from Venice to Frankfurt and then on to Chicago. Good flights.
So in summary, it was a truly magical cruise on a great ship. Great service, smiling crew members and an all out enjoyable experience.