First, a word about some RCCL practices that I really dislike. The first one we encountered was RCCL immediately charging in advance for anything purchased before the actual sail date - for any tours that are booked, for gratuities if using the popular My Time dining, for beverage packages. Besides being unfair, it creates a problem if the cruise has to be cancelled or rebooked, and makes getting good value from any available shipboard credit a lot more difficult. This is definitely an area that is not at all customer friendly. Also, if you've sailed with them before and have a Crown & Anchor discount, you get no credit for Refer a Friend, which seems self-defeating. Add to that a policy that does not allow agencies to discount their cruises, wines priced about 3-4 times retail (!), a policy (unlike Princess) that does not allow customers to bring a bottle of their own wine (or even water) on board, a lack of inexpensive obstructed view outside cabins, and it becomes obvious why they are not, and are unlikely to become, my cruise line of choice.
That said, the actual cruise was something of a mixed bag, but the large number of problems were generally minor and the important points mostly good. The downsides included many performers who equated loud with good, constant sales pitches (a minor example: at breakfast regular OJ was available, but you were also asked if you wanted to buy fresh squeezed), more difficulty than usual in finding a quiet public spot to sit and relax, and surprisingly limited hours for the dining rooms. A more important problem was with their communications, which manifested itself in several ways. First, the Customer Service desk often had trouble providing the correct answer to problems, and problems that repeated rarely, if ever, got the same answer twice. We also had difficulty getting straightforward, correct, answers from their Explorations Desk (for booking RCCL tours). But the lack of communications also showed up on disembarkation. While the procedures we were given were the same as every other cruise we've taken, when the actual disembarkation came we were told to just go to the deck 1 gangplank. This led to massive overcrowding, confusion, delays, and upset cruisers. It was the worst of all possible worlds.
On the upside, the ship was as attractive as any we've been on and the room made excellent use of its space, with excellent storage space and very good soundproofing in their Promenade cabin. Breakfast was reasonable, with many choices (NOTE: added choices at the rear of the Windjammer cafÃ©). Lunch was often disappointing, with fewer choices than we're used to, and not as high a quality as we expected. Dinner was almost always very well done with again somewhat limited but sufficient good choices. Desserts, though, were mostly disappointing. Most important on a cruise where half the time was at sea, there were a large and varied selection of activities throughout the day. As examples, on our first sea day there were 3 different Trivia contests, a music lecture, several dance classes, a champagne art auction, a Pain Management seminar, Royal Poker Tour Texas Hold'em, bridge play, adult jewelry making seminar, and far too much more to list. We also felt the entertainment has improved a lot compared to our earlier cruises, and especially enjoyed the Ice Capades type show.
Perhaps best of all, the ship left from Bayonne (we live in NJ), which was a real plus for us. The ports of call were OK although they wouldn't have been our first choice. And the ship did fairly little to celebrate New Year's Eve: a little champagne for everyone; hats, noisemakers, and some LED rings, but limited quantities of all of them; and a lot of crowding, shoving, and balloons was about all they provided. This was our first NYE cruise, so maybe that is normal, but I doubt we'll book this same cruise again. It was also a younger crowd than we've normally experienced -- which is either good or bad, depending on your age and interests.