I was travelling with my sister in law, plus two 14 year olds and an 11 year old and this was our first cruise. We joined the ship in Palma and embarkation was a little chaotic at the port as well as being bombarded with information however we got on board the ship around 2pm so headed for lunch in the buffet style Windjammer. I'm not a big fan of buffets but the choice was varied, the food was hot and mostly tasty.
By 4pm we went to our cabin. More spacious than anticipated, except the bathroom which was a bit compact. Incredibly comfy beds. The decor was incredibly dated but the room was clean and kept that way by our stateroom attendant.
During our cruise we went on two excursions, Panoramic Pisa and Glory of the Gladiators. Both were enjoyable and informative. For Pisa we had a guide called Andrea and he was very informative and we had just the right amount of time in Pisa to have a picture by the tower. The tour included a bottle of water and ice cream on the boat ride and then a cold drink in a cafe/gift shop. The Gladiator tour was hard going due to the pace and the high temperature, also no drinks were provided and no time was given to acquire one. It was informative though. We did get off the ship to wander room in Cannes, there is an excellent mini road train that tours road for not many euros.
We mostly ate in the formal dining room, the Great Gatsby. The service was excellent and the choice varied. If you didn't like you selection on its arrival it was promptly swapped. My son is autistic so found the menu challenging but the staff kindly brought him items that were not even listed. Whilst it was meant to be formal some people did wear shorts or open neck shirts. The only downside was the Gatsby was only open at lunch on the days at sea, which was a shame. Wherever you were on the ship there was food available, whether in the Windjammer, Solarium, poolside or room service (took about 20 minutes and the steak sandwich was very good).
We pre-purchased the soda fountain option for around £32 for adults and £22 for children - worth every penny! A shot of alcohol was around $8 - very pricey but due to the tax levied, seemingly the western European cruise doesn't charge this. Wine started at about $9 a glass.
One word required - fabulous. My 11 year old went to the 9-11 year old Voyager club and they did crafts, games, competitions and much more. They have option to be signed in by parent or they could self sign in and out. They also offer a pager service to let you know when your child wants picking up. The 12-17 year old teen zone had activities from 10am till 1am! The a strict curfew comes in to place with unaccompanied children being sent to their rooms. My only gripe was actually getting time to see my children as they were kept so busy.
The pool area is shabby and the salt water pool is small and cold. Some teens behaviour in the pool was 'yobbish' with swearing and high jinks. Occasionally staff intervened but many times they didn't and as the pool was small it put me off using the pool.On sea days loungers are at a premium - leave your place at your peril! However on port days they ship was very empty. Varied bar styles, though sometimes finding a seat was difficult.
They were friendly approachable and took a pride in their job. I had a number of minor issues whilst on board but they were dealt with swiftly.
We pre-paid our tips so received vouchers on the last night to distribute to head waiter, waiter, assistant waiter and room attendant. I wish I hadn't pre-paid as I would have liked to value the service more personally, though you can add extra cash. Bar staff do not get tips but with each payable drinks order there is the option to add a gratuity.
The night before you have to leave your suitcase outside your room before 11pm - what a joke! We didn't know about this before hand so had to leave the ship with our nightwear in a carrier bag and open our case when we were reunited on the dockside!
I didn't like the fact the safe could only be operated by sliding a credit card. My sister in law didn't take one so had to use my safe. You could not pay for anything on board with cash, everything was charged to your room. which meant on the last night a massive queue by customer services to argue over the bill! Decor in cabins was dated and the ship is in need of a refurb, which I gather is happening next May. Prices in the ship shops were very high so don't buy perfume!!! I overpaid $33 dollars for my Chanel grrr.
I would definitely go on a cruise with RCI again but perhaps I would choose a ship that had been refurbished or that was newer.