My boyfriend and I, both 31, decided to go on a cruize because he does not like flying. This was both of our first time on a cruise.
We were very impressed with the speed of the check in, it took us about ten minutes to check in and get onto the boat. We did arrive at the boat at about 12.00pm. It was nice that our holiday started as soon as we got on the boat. There were notices to say that our roon would not be availabe until 1pm and that our luggage would not be available until up to 9.00pm. This was not a problem for us, as our luggage was in our room at 13.00pm.
First impressions of the boat was very good, there was so much to take in that we kept on bumping into each other! We decided to go in September as there would be less children. There were lots of older people on the boat, and families with young children.
It was unfortunate on our first evening that when sailing through the bay of biscay, we caught the tail end of a hurricane and it was a very rough crossing, i would say to take sea sickness tablets, although we did find out that the ship provided people with sea sickness tablets.
We had an interior stateroom, the room was bigger then we were expecting and if we cruised again we would pay extra for a window or balcony. The downside to having no window, was that at times we didnt know what time of day it was! Dont let this put you off if you have already booked a room. Our attendant Christopher was very friendly, and knew our names and was very good at his job. There are no irons in the rooms, and if you want to have anything ironed, they offer a pressing service which you have to pay for. The issue we had with our room, was that there was a connecting door to another room and we could hear quite alot coming from the room. We spent longer in our room then we thought we would have done, this was due to us being quite tired in the evenings and going to bed really early!
The food was really good, you can eat 24 hours a day if you wanted to. We always found seats in the Windjammer cafe, and there was water, cloudy lemonade, fruit punch, kiwi squash, tea, coffee and hot chocolate available, plus orange and apple juice at breakfast time. We had room service a couple of times, they do a light menu that you can choose from. There is a nominal charge between 12.00pm and 5.00am. You can have breakfast in bed as well. WE did my time dining and ate at 8.30pm, we varied between this and eating in the Windjammer. There are speciality restaurants that you can eat at, but we didnt. There are icecreams available for free, 'sprinkles' which is a self service machine by one of the pools.
We were attracted to the boat because of the amount of activities that were available on board, such as the flo rida and the rock climbing wall, but we didnt us any of these in the end!
We were lucky with the weather, and it was around 27 degrees each day. A downside from leaving from Southampton, is that its a couple of days before you see any sunshine.
Some of the destinations we really liked and others we would not return to visit. We didn't like the fact that we had time restrictions in each of the places, for exampke, there is lots to see in Madeira and we were only there until 2.30pm. Royal Caribbean organise trips, but we found theses to be expensive and did not do them. We went on a couple of open top buses, which were good because you get to see the area and if there is anything that you are interested in you can hop on and off. Prices ranged from 16 - 12 euros for this.
In the evenings, we did see a couple of shows. I had seen other reviews that said you are lucky to get tickets for the ice show, but there were enough tickets for everybody. The shows we did see were really good, but if there was a show that we didnt want to see, there wasn't anything else to do. There are plenty of bars to go to, but not ideal if you dont want to drink. We found ourselves going to bed about 10.30. Alcohol is quite expensive on board, two coronas cost 11 dollars and a glass of champagne was 12 dollars. They are selling drinks packages, but we worked out that this would have cost us around 700 pounds extra. We met a few people who got the packages and said it had saved them money, so i guess it depends on how much you like to drink.
We had pre paid our gratuities, but I would not do this again, because at the end of the cruise you are given envelopes and 'vouchers' to put inside that already say on there ' to my head waither' etc. Our head waiter did not do much for our table, it was Vito and Felix our waiter and assistant waiter wh were brilliant, they suggested which food to eat and also let us know informations about the port we would be in the nex day, i would have preferred to have given him and Felix more money.