Last year, my wife and I cruised on the Oasis of the Seas, so we were familiar with the size of the ship when we cruised on her sister ship the Allure of the Seas.
Other reviews ave commented on how quickly embarkation is and I can only reiterate what has been said previously. Royal Carribean defintely knows how to move people through in an efficient and orderly fashion. Cruise employees are with you every step of the way to insure you are in the correct lines.
Once on the ship, we went to the windjammer (Which was very crowded at this time while we waited for the rooms to open up. They said the doors to the cabins would be opened at approximately 1 pm and they definitely were. We had 4 bags.. 3 were waiting for us when we arrived at our cabin, and one followed about 3 hours later. My wife decided to take advantage of a massage treatment which she said she will always do from this point forward. It relaxed her immensely.
Prior to the cruise we had decided to do MY Time Dining (which requires that you pay all gratuities before the cruise. We did this on the Oasis also and it worked well for us. We ate dinner with 2 other couples... and for most days when calling down for reservations, the only time available to us always seemed to be 545pm. This worked out ok for us and the other 2 couples. When you make dinner reservations, they tie your room with the other 2 couples as being seated at same t able, so if I made the reservations, all 3 couples would be reserved (and if they tried to make reservations, the dining room would inform them that one of the other couples already made the reservation.. so this avoided double bookings and confusion.
I made 1 shore excursion in Falmouth Jamaica. it was a 12 minute helicopter ride. it was 99.00. it was a cool experieince seeing Jamaica from the helicopter. We also made another reservation once we got on the ship, that we had read about. It is a behind the scenes tour of the ship. you have to make it at guest services as soon as you get on at guest services. it cost 150.00 per person, and they take you to the ship galley where you see the food being prepared, and the laundry area (really big washers and dryers as I'm sure you can imagine!) and the engine control room, where you see and meet the ship's engineers and ask them questions about how the ship operates (all of those monitors checking absolutely everything!), then a trip through the employees eating areas and where they live on the ship), then up to the bridge where you get a chance to speak to the ship's captain if he is on the bridge then, as well as the other ship's officers who are manning the bridge. This is a relatively new tour, and they were very anxious to get our feedback after t he tour. We absolutely loved the tour. Another stop on the tour would be backstage where the shows are put on. You see alot of the stage scenery they use, and get to speak to the producer who puts on the shows.
We had a balcony on the 8th level. We liked this when on the Oasis also, because we loved walking through Central park to get from one end of the ship to the other. It is a wonderful stroll no matter if it's at night or in the daytime.
I have read other reviews about people complaining about the food. We never had a bad meal at any time. we ate in the dining room all evenings except one when we had a late lunch while in Nassau. Breakfasts were either in the windjammer or park cafe, or the solarium, or in our room. Again, never a bad meal.
We enjoyed most shows. We weren't crazy about Chicago, but I had seen it on cable TV, and I fell asleep watching that one (and I also fell asleep at the show on the ship!) but that's just personal preference. it is not a reflection on the entertainers performing in the show.
Our stops on this cruise were Labadee Haiti and falmouth, Jamaica. We were supposed to go to Conzumel, but a hurricane there (oct 29th) forced us to detour to Nassau instead.
The new ports at Labadee and Falmouth were very nice. Labadee was built up since last year when were there.
At the end of the cruise we decided to utilize their luggage valet service. for 20. 00 per person we put our luggage out the last night of the cruise and we didn't see it again until we arived at our homer destination of Philadelphia.
This was so much more relaxing than lugging the luggage through customs and out the door o pick up our shuttle ride to the airport. We will definitely do that again also.