This was our first cruise for us, our group of 8 included 2 couples age 48+50, 57+60 and 2 daughters age 26+24. I had done extensive research prior to sailing, and it came handy during our cruise. Thanks CC!
Embarkation was easy and quick, Cape Liberty may not be pretty but it's functional, saves you from flying out and who cares about the port anyway!
Like many before us have said, do not follow GPS directions...they are wrong! Even knowing this, our driver still decided to listen to GPS, resulting in us going around and around a few times.
Cabins were ready, cabin 9346, D2, was excellent, no issues at all, dropped off our carry-ons and went to the Windjammer for lunch. We always ate at the Windjammer for breakfast and lunch, we found it to be tasty and with PLENTY of choices, it is buffet, but I would put it in the superior level. You can be as good or as bad as you want. If you are bad the gym area is great, you can work out all the calories eaten up. We only visited it the first day, and only to look at it!
For dinner we mixed it up, did Portofino 3x, excellent the first 2, def worth the extra $20. The 3rd time would have been the mystery dinner night (price goes up to $50 pp) which was cancelled at the last minute due to illness of the actor. We were not aware that on this night the menu is reduced to 2 choices for entrees, appetizer was straight out of Windjammer...While we were reimbursed the extra $30 and provided with free wine (the cheapest) due to the show's cancellation, we still felt that limiting the menu' should have been disclosed ahead of time, as we probably would not have booked it to begin with.
Their full menu's choices are excellent, the shrimp's risotto, mushrooms pappardelle, seafood skewer....yummy!
Main Dining room was fine also, gave you the opportunity to seat down and take your time (you do tend to rush when eating at the the buffet). Windjammer at night time is much quieter and still with plenty of food.
Entertainment: Tastes vary among people, most of our group was happy with the entertainment..ice show is VERY good, like many have already said. The RCL singers and dancers are also very good, maybe geared towards older crowd... We had a juggler/comedian from America got talent, he was also very good, can't remember his name......a Quartet, the Vagabonds also very good...
The usual cruise games....Love and Marriage , Battle of the sexes, the Quest were funny and entertaining....How much fun depends on your willingness to participate...the more you do the more you enjoy things...but even spectators have fun. We personally did not care too much for cruise director Luke Aerowsmith, filling in for Jimmy Rhoades(sp?)same for other cruisers we spoke with...personalities..
Lots of areas around the ship where you could find music to listen to, people watching, reading or whatever...never really had a problem with finding chairs around the pools...solarium pool was my favorite, quieter without the constant music...great Jacuzzis, all around the pool deck. some people sat in it for hours...wrinkled when they got in...imagine when they got out!
cruise staff was GREAT and incredibly hard working in more than one field. they deserve more than tipping guidelines...
We never found bar staff and photographers to be pushy. do have your picture taken, yes they can be costly but budget for a few, they are so much nicer than your own.
The 2 young ladies in our group wished there were more similar age cruisers, but most of the younger crowd was coupled...there seemed to be a LOT of seniors....
One person in our group complained of poor TV channels choice (!)...The rest of us did not quite understand...did he come on board to watch TV? not many channels he said...
One VERY serious complaint in my eyes that had read about in other reviews.....MANY areas of the ship had a STRONG sewage smell...this was noticeable on several decks and several areas, impossible to miss....I mentioned it to some staff members and got "Really? where?" as an answer...luckily not in our cabin areas.
I would say the smell of sewage was the only negative aspect of this ship. EXOS is well maintained, despite showing it's age in same areas..the crew is constantly cleaning...A previous review complained of grime and dirt on handrails, elevator buttons etc.... I couldn't find any trace of dirt of grime, anywhere, maybe they cleaned the ship after reading his review!
Ports of call....would have loved to have more time in each......not enough time to really claim to have been there. Did one snorkeling excursion booked with RCL to Turtle cove in St Thomas on the Silent Lady sailboat. It was fun, did see turtles and tropical fishes etc..this is NOT a beach excursion, you jump off the boat....in Samana, DR, we did the ATV tour with Terry (from "Tour Samana with Terry"), privately booked, we had a blast, got rained on (loved it!) challenging terrains, splashed around more because of the rain, stopped for coffee and fresh fruit along the way to El Valle beach for lunch. Our joke was that that morning the chicken was clucking, the fish swimming and the fruit on the trees before ending up in our plate for lunch! Loved Terry, and his tour...
We are overall happy with the whole experience and our first cruise!