Unable to resist the almost ridiculously low rates for this voyage and the availablity of very reasonably priced air from NY to Istanbul, my wife and I decided to return to the Mediterranean. Let me state - unequivocally - that this trip met or exceeded all expectations.
The ship, while obviously older (1998), was in very good shape. It does show some age with some of the design and furnishings, but this did not in any way deter our enjoyment. Our cabin - large outside - was absolutely perfect for the two of us. The only signs of wear were a few "dings" in the furniture, but everything else was absolutely fine. Sure....we missed the interactive flat screen TV's that we have experienced on newer ships, but this was a minor issue.
Staff was unfailingly polite and attentive.
Our cabin steward kept the stateroom in very good shape and the cleaning was meticulous.
Dining in the main dining room (Aquarius) was very good - there was never a time that we could not find something to enjoy for dinner. While the food was definitely not "gourmet," it was as good as any main dining room food we have had. It is clear that the lines have cut back on the higher end choices - no lobster tails, no crab legs, generally lesser cuts of meat (filet mignon was available at a $14.95 upcharge), but again, absolutely adequate. We DID miss the optional dining experience we had on Royal Caribbean a couple of years ago, but we knew that it would not be available and it was not a major issue.
Complaints? It was very apparent to us that in the past two years, RCCL has significantly raised the price of "extras." Wines were offered at 3 - 4 times retail. $10 bottles were routinely offered at $35 - $40. I would expect this at a NY restaurant, but not onboard. Glasses of wine ranged from $8.00 to more than $15.00 - really overpriced. Most mixed drinks were in the $8.50 - $10.50 range. Keep in mind that all of these were given a mandatory 15% service charge. Spa treatments were absurdly expensive - 50 min. massages for $150! I guess that the reality of the marketplace dictates that the cruises have to be deeply discounted but every attempt is made to recoup the lower margins by charging close to outlandish prices for onboard services and purchases. The thing that stands out most was a "special behind the scenes tour" of the ship for $150 a person. This is NOT a mistake - $150!!!!! In the past, these kinds of tours were routinely given for free.
All in all, a wonderful cruise and a very nice ship. The only real negative was an outbreak of the Norovirus and a fairly large number of people (including my wife) getting sick onboard. To their credit, the ship made every effort to avoid the spread of the virus and care for those who had contracted it.