We had been thinking about a cruise for quite a few years, but decided to go for it this year. We are not particularly sociable, so had some misgivings, but thought that we could cope for a week if we didn't particularly like it. We booked a superior stateroom with a balcony, so that we could retreat there if it all got too much.
We needn't have worried! We loved it. So much so that we have already booked another one for next year with Royal Caribbean.
This amazing ship met all our expectations and more. The sheer size is daunting at first, but we eventually found our way round it. It is immaculate. I am amazed how many people were on board and yet it never seemed crowded.
We chose "my time" dining, which suited us perfectly as we didn't want to be tied to a time or a particular table. Remember, we are not very social people!!!!. We never had a problem getting a table for two. However, we didn't eat in the main dining room every evening. Windjammers buffet has an excellent choice of food, and lots of tables by the windows to watch the lovely sunsets. We also had one meal in Portofino's, which was amazing. We did feel slightly stuffed afterwards, which wasn't a good idea when the 65 mph blew up during the night, but we won't dwell on that!
We had pre-booked some extras beforehand. A bottled water package, a wine package and two excursions, which was berry useful. However we would probably not book a wine package again, as the wine can only be collected from the dining room. No use if we wanted a bottle on the balcony in the afternoon, as the dining room didn't open until 6 pm. Couldn't order it through room service for the same reason.
We never had any of the problems mentioned in earlier reviews, i.e. Smokers, rude people of other nationalities etc. There were very few children inboard, due to the timing of the cruise, which suited us. We really have no complaints, other than embarkation and the chaos at Barcelona airport.
Our first port of call was Toulon, which was a little bit of a disappointment. The weather was dull and we were anchored quite a way from the main town, in what seemed to be a naval base. We had planned to walk into town, but this was clearly impossible, so we decided to spend time familiarising ourselves with ship. We didn't realise that there was transport available, until it was too late. Our own fault!
Livorno was another town that we were not particularly enamoured with. We had thought about booking an excursion to Florence, but had been told that Livorno was a lovely little town, with lots of canals. The canals were there, but the town was lacking in any kind of atmosphere. We returned to the ship for lunch! Co-incidentally, Livorno is a port of call on our next cruise. We will be going to Florence!!
Can't wait for the next cruise. We have been converted!!!!!
The only downside for us was the embarkation procedure. We got off the plane, collected our luggage, located the Royal Caribbean reps and then waited! Eventually, we were directed to a bus and taken to another area in the airport where we collected our Sea Passes. So far, so good. We were told that having done this we would then be to go straight onto the ship at the port. It didn't exactly go to plan. Once at the terminal we had to queue for some time to go through security before we could board. However once this was comp,eyed it was all " plain sailing".