First impressions of RCI weren't that great. Upon arriving at the Pan-American pier, there was a long line to first wait for porters to take your checkin bags. The staff was friendly once we eventually reached the front of the line. After leaving your big bags with them you enter in to a large hall and aimlessly follow signs. There's a line per deck (our room was on deck 8). So that was another line to wait in. We thought this is where we'd also be told about drink packages and what not, but that was not the case. You just sort of check in and get your sea pass (credit card equivalent and ID for the entire trip). Then we actually stopped by at this duty free shop and someone suggested that we buy coke and water here now and that it would be a good idea for the cruise. Turned out to be true, I think. It was like $8 or so for a 12 pack, which was very useful as compared to paying $45 on the ship for unlimited soft drinks. We put the cans in the fridge in our room, so it turned out well. So you walk around and up on to the ship and there was another line where they checked our passes and ID's (actually there were like 3 such checkpoints, which got to be ridiculous). Especially now with these coke 12-packs and bottle of water, my hands were killing me through all this. Then you get on the ship and..... . Not a single person is there to tell you where you are or where you need to go. We eventually figured it out and got to our room, but I thought that was kind of strange.
We had upgraded two levels up to a balcony room; still we were surprised to find that our room was really tiny. I think that's normal for a cruise, but it was a surprise to me being it was my first time. Still, balcony was great and we were happy with the room in the long run.
Regarding the ports, I would say there is one important key. Do your research! I heavily read people's reviews on cruisecritic.com and I read a lot about each destination on tripadvisor.com. Those two sites were VERY helpful. I have included details of what we did at each of our 5 ports.
The dinners at Reflections were great. Our head waiter, Anthony, was an amazing guy. He went SO out of his way to watch after us that it was amazing. Food is unlimited on these cruises and there's always something available to eat. There were also some great drinks available, but of course those aren't free. Not crazy expensive either. It ranged from $5-$7 per drink. Not bad, given the environment. The ship definitely makes it's money on the drinks, though.
There were a couple of days were the ship really rocked quite a bit. We were lucky not to get sea sick, but it really moved. It's funny to see large groups of people all shifting left and right as we all walk down a hall way.
Casino - Real, quick I went here a couple of times. They have every kind of table game, which was awesome. Unexpected. I played 3 card poker, caribbean stud poker, roulette, and craps. This was over 3 nights. I'm happy to say I came out in the positive. That's quite an accomplishment over 3 nights, me thinks. Didn't win big... I was probably up like $20 net. But again, 3 nights worth of entertainment and you come away with anything from a casino and that's a win in my book.
Entertainment - We saw this comedian, Miguel twice. He was pretty funny. There was a magic show, which was really funny too. The magic wasn't all that amazing, but it was done in a hilarious way. We went to a game show called Quest. That was a LOT of fun. It's kind of like playing truth or dare crossed with a scavenger hunt, and all in a friendly competitive way. Definitely exciting. The cruise director, Ricky Matthews is really energetic. He knows how to get crowds going and all. He does a great job at what he's supposed to do. One cool thing I noticed was that the pool tables had this automatic stabilization thing on them. So even if the boat is rocking like crazy, the table stays completely flat. That was really cool. Other things to do... there are shops, there's a gym, there's pools, a club, a cigar lounge, all sorts of bars. You can get your pictures taken all the time and gather those. We bought a four 8x10 package at the end of it. Overall, there's plenty to do, but I'm still glad chose an itinerary which had more island stops that sea days. The islands were much more fun.
To see even more details about our trip, including factors on deciding a cruise and what we did in Puerto Rico, please see my complete blog post: