I am a Diamond member with RCCL and have cruised on many of their ships. My friend is Platinum and between us we have cruised on at least 5 other cruise lines over the years including RCCL.
My last 4 cruises had been on the Navigator of the Seas which is one of my favorites. It is always ship-shape and feels roomy and never crowded.
This ship was such a disappointment for me! It immediately felt very small and claustrophobic as soon as we boarded. The Windjammer was not well organized, the food looked like leftovers, and the layout of the Windjammer area was not efficient.
When we arrived in our room, the disappointment continued. The room was literally covered with dust - the TV screen, under the TV, the drawer edges and the counter tops were dusty and not at all clean. I have asthma and allergies to dust mites so this was not going to work. Then, if possible, the bathroom was WORSE. There was a large black ring around the toilet, and there was a large blob of toothpaste on the front of the sink. The bathroom had a disgusting smell of sewage.
The in-room safe also did not work. This was all just not acceptable so we called Housekeeping, maintenance and our room steward. The rest of the first afternoon was spent waiting for the various staff to come in and dust, clean the bathroom, separate the beds (which was requested on the reservation), and fix the safe. Luckily we could sit on our balcony while all the work was being done, otherwise we would have felt that the first afternoon was wasted.
The guy fixing the safe disappeared and said he would come back. We still couldn't leave until he found the necessary "part" and returned, at least 1.5 hours later. He could not enter the room without our being there, he told us.
When the room was finally in order (or at least acceptable), we could begin our cruise. I have to say that Oliver, our room steward, was very apologetic that our room was in such poor condition, and explained that the room steward in charge of our room before had just taken leave and obviously was in a hurry to begin his time off. Oliver took care of everything for us after that first day with no issues.
The balcony cabin on this ship seemed smaller than on other RCCL ships - I have bruises on my legs from climbing over the inside bed for the entire cruise. The balcony was about standard size but there was a metal roof structure below our balcony that interfered with our view and we could not really hear the sounds of the water. (We did not book an obstructed view balcony).
We did not return to the Windjammer after the first day, but the dining room food was more than adequate. It was actually quite good and the "my time dining" area waiters were outstanding! The only complaint about the MTD process on this ship is that they do not have enough tables reserved for MTD and you have to wait. I NEVER waited for a table using MTD on any other RCCL ship so this was frustrating. The head waiter was multi-tasking, managing the podium at MTD check-in and then escorting people to tables, which also slowed down the process. But once seated, we loved the food and the waiters~
We had room service for breakfast each day and it worked fine for us. Don't order eggs from room service though - they are terrible! - I think they are egg beaters or if not they are made so they will sit for long periods and have very little resemblance to real scrambled eggs. We stuck with pastries, yogurt, and juice. (which is another little annoying thing - RCCL now charges for REAL orange juice as a bar item - what you get when you order orange juice is a fruit punch colored orange - very disappointing and another example of visible penny-pinching).
We are not really into all of the ship's entertainment, so I cant speak to those, but the casino on this ship seriously needs some work on its ventilation system. My friend is a smoker and she loved being able to smoke in there, but I couldn't breathe at all and the air was SO bad I actually had an asthma episode after spending time in there one evening. The casino is very small also in comparison to other RCCL ships I have sailed.
The central Promenade area - once again - felt very cramped and small. Unlike the Navigator, there is no central, open area surrounded by the shops...the shops are in a smaller, winding hallway. The one plus was the champagne bar at the Atrium...the bartender there was one of the best on the ship!
Embarkation and debarkation were excellent on this ship. We were on the ship by 11:30 and off by 8:30 AM with no waiting whatsoever.
We booked our own shore excursion to Nachi Cocom rather than a ship excursion. For another review, I will contribute my comments about Nachi Cocom, which has deteriorated significantly in the 11 months since I was there last. Service was much slower and they now have the dreaded "toys" we try to avoid - jet-skis, inflatable bouncing things floating in the water, etc...in an effort to appeal to a broader audience, they are heading the wrong direction for those who prefer a quieter, adults-only beach day. We hated to see that.
This was our first New years eve cruise and I have to say my final disappointment was that for the nearly double cost of a New years cruise, we would have expected free-flowing champagne (at least cheap champagne) :) What we got were 2 bottles of chardonnay left in our room by our room steward on NYE evening, and a noisemaker and tiara at the dinner table. Not quite what we expected.
With all of the complaints it sounds as though we were miserable...We in fact enjoyed the "down time", and had a lot of rest on the balcony and in Cozumel. Don't EVEN TRY to find a deck chair on sea-days on this ship. We circled the ship multiple times and I have never seen such chair-saving with towels in spite of the signs posting the 30 minute policy. Luckily on the way back we had the sunny side of the ship and enjoyed the sun and the privacy of our balcony...and our own chairs!