If I'd never been on a cruise before, this cruise wouldn't have been bad (although, for the money, I still would have been disappointed). Given that I've cruised with this line previously (including with the Paul Gauguin when it was part of the line) AND just completed a cruise on Azamara earlier this year, this trip proved to be far below expectations.
With the exception of the housekeeping fiasco, all of my comments are of a comparative nature (to the past RSSC cruises and the recent Azamara cruise). I'll start with the area that 'stood alone' in that it was bad in any context: Housekeeping.
We were fortunate to have an extraordinary stewardess (Jocelyn) for the first 1/2 of our cruise and cannot say enough good things about her. She exemplified everything I would expect from a high-end (i.e., expensive) cruise (or hotel, for that matter) experience. She was friendly, attentive, efficient and professional. Unfortunately, our positive experience with housekeeping came to an abrupt end when Jocelyn fell ill and we fell into the RSSC Navigator housekeeping abyss.
There did not appear to be any consistency to the personnel or the process associated with tending our cabin. The times, people and level of upkeep were all over the map. Worst of all, our cruise ended (literally, the last night) with no service at all. I happened to catch a stewardess in the hall tending another cabin (at close to 9PM) and asked if there would be no housekeeping that evening. To her credit, she looked embarrassed that I even need ask and inquired as to whether our stewardess had ever appeared. Of course, she had not (whoever she was supposed to be that night). Bottom line is that we received no housekeeping at all that night. We'd not been left with the door signs (in the room every night when Jocelyn was working) for indicating a desire for service and had called earlier in the evening (an 'interesting' process whereby you press the 'stewardess' button on your phone and await a return call) to request service; unfortunately, no response ever came from that.
While we were not incapable of tending our own cabin and had no urgent need of any particular housekeeping service, this is one of the things that makes the luxury experience a luxury. Clearly, this left an incredibly bad taste in our mouths and a lack of desire to expend our resources on another RSSC cruise.
Other areas that were not nearly so negative on their own, but paled in comparison to past RSSC cruises and that of Azamara were:
Dining: The dining rooms (La Veranda, Compass Rose, Pool Deck and Prime 7) were all fine (not amazing, but fine). Room service, on the other hand, was spotty. On multiple occasions, when ordering a meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner at various points over the 10 days) and specifying that it would be for TWO guests, we were served without the 'extras' (i.e., utensils, napkins, plates, condiments, etc.) expected (and eventually, specifically requested) for TWO people. Additionally, unless specifically requested, food obtained from room service did not come with anything other than that specifically listed on the room service menu (also significantly abbreviated from previous cruises) - as an example, if you ordered soup, you needed to order bread and butter separately if you wanted them.
Public Rooms/Cabins: The primary area of observation here is that the Navigator is ready for a bath. Carpeting was worn and stained throughout the ship and in the cabin.
Activities/Excursions: While the few organized excursions in which we participated were okay (again, not excellent, just okay), they were disorganized. Delays were the standard (and not due to weather related issues as can sometimes occur and is entirely forgivable). Something that Azamara did wonderfully (and RSSC not at all on this cruise) was to have a local representative board the ship in advance of disembarkation at every port (often the night prior) to provide information and MAPS for that port. I found this to be extremely beneficial on those occasions when I chose to explore independently.
Service: With the exception of housekeeping, service was very good in some areas and spotty in others. Again, not awful; however, my previous experiences with both RSSC and Azamara included consistently excellent service across the board.
Value-for-Money: This is the biggie. I cruised Azamara (7 days in Italy on the Journey) in April of this year and spent less than half what the 10 day Navigator cruise cost (P.S. I cruised a single traveler with NO single supplement in an equivalent cabin). The ONLY difference for which I benefited was that of 'free' (higher-end beverages are not free on RSSC) alcohol. For those thousands of dollars, several people could not have consumed that much 'free' alcohol. Long story, short - this, in addition to all of the above, will be why my next cruise is on Azamara and NOT on RSSC.