First cruise on RCL here in Asia, went for a short weekend getaway from Singapore to Malaysia.
First off, compared to other cruises (especially Star Cruises)
- Excellent English-speaking staff who are actually trained
- Very very very minimal sales pitches
- Professional courtesy and smiles 24/7
- Food is good and no hidden fine print, all is included but a few items on menu. Meaning no surprises
- Ship is I think smallest in RCL line
- Pool was very salty
- Ship shows its age (over 20 years old I think), which makes it hard to justify price especially if you go for a suite etc etc
- Manage your expectations with the Asian crowd (inevitable...will explain)
Getting on board this ship had a somewhat tedious but necessary process, the lines were somewhat long for check in, immigration, etc etc...however they were SEAMLESS. I guess 2,000 people trying to get onboard will have some delays.
It was a decent sized interior stateroom with 2 adults and 2 kids, no complaints in terms of being too small or anything. However, the 13" CRT Sony Trinitron TV shows how old this ship is - that kind of tv was made 10-15 years ago! Shower had decent water pressure.
There were two pools, the outdoor pool was extremely salty though great to sunbathe around. INdoor pool smelled so bad of chlorine, we didn't even try.
Gym had some modern equipment, was in the back of the ship and had a decent view as you were working out, of the ocean. They had a spa (about US$99-150 for packages 60 minutes or more). Casino was there, though smoky.
Good array of available shows such as movie night (Twilight Saga Eclipse, Shrek 3, Wedding Date), some recent shows on the TV channel as well. The performances were pretty good, such as magic shows, a small comedy skit, the dances and singing.
Windjammer on Lvl9 was a buffet style (at times chaos....due to the Asian crowd), Romeo & Juliet on Lvl 4 & 5 more pristine fine dining with excellent service. The food may be similar (what is on the menu @ fine dining may also be on the buffet), but Windjammer's issue is the Asian mentality. Utterly noisy, with everyone crowding in when the restaurant opens, the usual chit-chat after the meal is finished (one table of 8 sat around and drank while they chatted for 30-45 minutes after they were done eating). No fault of the ship or crew other than the fact that it ruins your experience, especially having kids, when there is no place to sit!
Romeo & Juliet was a much nicer place to go, assigned tables, great wait staff who are attentive (they remember your name!) and a pretty good selection of food. This included lamb shanks, souffle's, steak, filet mignon (reasonable priced at USD$15), fish etc.
There is a small pizza/hot dog/burger cafe at Solarium (indoor pool) open I think 11am-2am which is a quick snack bar.
A wonderful place called Adventure ocean where the staff can help watch and entertain your kids, almost all day! My kids absolutely loved this, wants to go back to play with other kids and eat with them. Made the journey completely more enjoyable.
So....finally get to this. The crowd was predominantly Asians (Singaporeans mostly, Indians, Indonesians) and as in Singapore, the notion of queuing, manners, patience escapes many of them (not most, not all, but many of them). Countless times while waiting in line to do the excursions, immigration, food, check-in, activities - there would be some random Asian and/or Indian just cutting in line. They are ignorant to your pleas, and just barge through. I remember one Singaporean father who just picked up his son and bypassed a queue of about 20 people "just because", and ignored the staff until security stopped him.
Asian crowds also tip less because unlike the Western audience, they don't appreciate as much the service that makes RCL stand out. Which maybe is why Star Cruises works better, it is more no-frills. This is a fact after talking to many of the employees onboard.
The crowd largely fell asleep or had a muted look on their face during the various performances like singing or dancing, got bored during the cruise (there were maybe 20 people in total sunbathing and relaxing, the others were scurrying about looking for something to do/eat).
If you have time, read the RCL experiences that originate from China - which shows that the fellow passengers will define your experience onboard a cruise ship - negative and positive.
All in all - a good experience, unfortunately will need to travel to the Western Hemisphere for a purely enjoyable cruise.