This was our fourth Royal Caribbean cruise and our first on this class of ship. We have always experienced great service and attention to care on RCI cruises and this was no exception. The ship itself is beautiful - large enough to not realise there were 700+ children onboard and small enough for my 89 year old father-in-law to get around.
We cruise for the ship not for the destinations and we chose this itinerary as it was during school holidays, after Christmas and because we have been to all the ports before, other then Champagne Bay. My father-in-law loves sitting on the balcony watching the tenders go to and fro the shore so the number of ports with tendering requirements was great for him.
We experienced some of the new Specialty Restaurants. Samba Grill was quite the experience - ensure you arrive hungry as there were 9 courses of meat - it is quite the carnivorous experience. Chopps Grille was sensational - one of the best steaks I have ever eaten, magnificent service by Randolph and the desserts ... oh my! I'm still dreaming about the Red Velvet cake. Rita's Cantina was a let down. I love mexican food and I was looking forward to this restaurant. The lighting was wonderful, the margaritas delicious (albeit quite a long wait - an unusual experience on RCI ships) but the food and service was less than spectacular. We didn't try Giovannis but feedback from other passengers was that it was really great. The quality of the food in the dining room has slipped over the years. Cost cutting has meant that the menu is a little less special than in previous years but it is still appetising and the waitstaff are truly outstanding, making every experience a good one.
I especially appreciated Captain Sindre Borsheim - such a knowledgable,generous and humorous captain. His midday annoucements and 1 1/2 hr Captains Corner Q&A session were really great. He was very amiable and visible. Unfortunately the same can't be said for Bill the Cruise Director. The Cruise Directors staff were wonderful, but the Cruise Director himself was bland and sparkless. I saw the Captain more than I saw him. His humour seemed false and rehearsed - not the best RCI has to offer.
As usual the Production shows as well as the other shows and acts were great quality. I liked the new Piano Man, City of Dreams and the Tango show as well s the magician, pianist, singer and juggler. The one show I absolutely hated was the Aussie Boys. Over the top, fake smiles and daft humour spoiled the fact that they could actually sing. This act is much better suited to a non-Australian audience.
We loved the ship so much that we hope to sail on her again Christmas 2012 - it was a wonderful holiday.