My husband and I are in our early 60's, and have cruised over 16 times before with Carnival, Norwegian, Disney, Celebrity, and Princess. We have found that Celebrity, and Princess are our favorite cruise lines when it comes to food, value, and service. We took this cruise because we were joining friends, who we had cruised with before, but had not seen for a while. We had a great time because we were with friends, and a cruise is "what you make it." We started with a very positive attitude, and we found that we did indeed have a good time. However, there were a few things that were not as good as expected, that I would like to comment on.
Embarkation: It was a very cold day in Galveston, and the lines were very long. I found it to be very disorganized, and slow! There were no staff to assist the elderly, or disabled. We found ourselves in a very long line, with alot of impatient people. Finally, we were offered assistance, as my husbamd, and our friend, needed boarding assistance, and then things moved along faster. After about 40 minutes we were on board. I found out quickly that we were on our own, when it came to finding our room. There were no "welcoming staff", to offer assistance with finding our rooms, and that caused alot of confusion among boarding passengers! Finally, we found our room. We were on the 8th floor, with a balcony. The room size and bathroom was adequate. Also, we had enough closet space for all of our clothes. The one negative regarding our room was the fact that our bathroom had a very "sluggish toilet", and we constantly smelled an unpleasant odor, which we tought was sewage. This started on Sunday, when we boarded the ship, and only got worse as the week progressed! Our bed was very uncomfortable, and hard. Other than that our room, and balcony was adequate, compared to other ships. Throughout the cruise I found the staff to be very unfriendly, and did not willingly offer assistance. When approached they would try to help, but noone went out of their way to assist, and I found that I had to constantly ask for things that were normally recognized on our previous cruises. For example, I had to ask to have ice delivered to our stateroom, and found myself trying to work around our stateroom assistant's schedule.
Dining: We had late dining in the Top Hats Dining room. Service was extremely slow! I was not at all impressed with the quality of the food. It was often served cold, and tasteless! Also, the selection of foods to choose from was not impressive! Our waiter, and assistant waiter did the best they could, but they were very overworked. Service for wine was virtually nonexsistant. I found that if I wanted a glass of wine with my dinner, I needed to carry it into the dining room with me. Meats were tough, and dry. Food tasted like cafeteria food, and even though one would never go hungry, it was not memorable, or anything special compared to our other cruising experiences! Windjammer food was also OK, and of cafeteria style and taste. We ate several of our breakfasts in the main dinig room, and I did not find them to be any better. Again, service was slow, and orders were often messed up.
Entertainment: This is the one area in which I think that RCCL excelled. All of the shows that I attended were very good. The RCCL singers and dancers were very talented! The ice show was excellent! Do not miss it! You are required to obtain tickets (at no additional cost) to attend the ice show. The tickets go very fast, and my husband and I had to stand because we did not get a ticket. It was definately worth attending, even though we had to stand for an hour.
I would say that the entertainment was some of the best that I have seen on any of my prior cruises.
I found that alot of the ammenities we were used to having are now available only for a"fee." If you want a towel when going to the pool/hot tub, you must pay a $25.00 deposit, of which is refunded when you return your towel. Alot of the "frill" that I am used to on other cruise lines was missing. No grand buffet (not that anyone needs it), no chocolates on your pillow, or no memorable entertainment in the dining room. Maybe all cruise lines are cutting back, but it was not like that 12 monhs ago when we cruised on Princess.
Ports: All of the ports that we visited (Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel) were good. We had a great time just shopping around the ports, and eating at a few of the local resturants. We did not venture out beyond the cruise port shopping areas, mainly because of safety issues. The weather was great our entire trip, with temps in the 80's.
Disembarkation: This was also very slow, and again a disorganized process. RCCL needs to improve in this area! We did not have to catch a flight, or I would have been worried that we might miss it! It was after 10:30 AM before we finally disembarked, and it took about 30 minutes to obtain our luggage in the terminal.
Summary: Overall, this was a good cruise for the amount of money that it cost. I do not plan to cruise RCCL again, unless I am going with friends. I still prefer to cruise with Celebrity, and Princess, as I feel that you get better service, and food with these lines. Also, I have always found the staff to go above and beyond my expectations on these cruise lines.