Embarkation- Parked our car at ParkNCruise around 10:45am and took their free shuttle to the port. Very painless process. Went thru security line in less than 5 minutes, and then headed to get sail and sign card. This also only took about 5 minutes. We were then lead to seats to wait for the boarding. Waited about 15 minutes, and then they started boarding the ship. We were on board by 11:35. Headed to eat lunch, and were ushered to Jade Restaurant, as they were not yet seating people in the Windjammer space. Very efficient embarkation.
Ship and Condition -- It was easy to see that the ship was old and reaching the end of it's useful life with RCCL, but they did their best to maintain it and keep it clean. The ship is definitely best for first time cruisers, and to us seemed very crowded. They pack a lot of people on this ship. We had 2600 to 2700 passengers, on a ship of 74,000 gross tons. As a comparison, the previous month we were on the the Celebrity Millennium, which is 91,000 gross tons, and only had about 2100 passengers. Quite a noticeable difference.
Room- We had an inside cabin, 4037, and this was by far the smallest cabin we have ever had in 15 cruises. Knew it would be small beforehand, and were not used to not having a refrigerator or safe in a stateroom. There were also no shelves in the bathroom to put personal items. Looked like there used to be shelves there, but had been thru time torn down with some putty to replace where the screw holes were. There were also a couple times our toilet would not flush as nothing would happen when you pushed the button to flush, so had to have it fixed a couple time.
Food -- Quite disappointed with the food, both in menu selection and quality. We had My Time Dining, and they pretty much expected you to make reservations each day, especially if you wanted a table for two. Very inconvenient. We actually found the food to be better in the Windjammer buffet than in the dining room. Prime Rib in dining room was OK, but not that great. Best beef I had was in Windjammer. Great sourdough rolls, but overall very disappointed in desserts. Nothing chocolate tasted much like chocolate. Best dessert was Key Lime pie.
Staff and Service -- Overall staff and service was friendly and very good. No complaints there.
Entertainment -- The main production shows in the theater were definitely a notch or two in quality below what we've been used to. Set designs looked more like what would be expected in a high school musical, but we wondered if part of it was because of the age and design of the ship and maybe would not allow more elaborate staging. Comedian we saw was good. We enjoyed watching people climb the rock walls, looked like they were enjoying themselves.
Debarkation - We chose to use the express self assist where you take your own luggage with you. You were supposed to go to the dining room between 8:00 and 8:10am for this process. We went by at 7:30 on our way to Windjammer for breakfast and people were lined up already everywhere. Looked like it would be a horrible process. We ate breakfast, went back to our room to get our luggage, and proceeded to area for debarkation around 8:05am. It was all cleared out and only one person in front of us to get off ship. Also only waited for 1 person in front of us to go thru Customs, so it ended up being very efficient to get off the ship.
Overall -- We got a great rate on the cruise and went in with low expectations. We had fun and got our money's worth. But in comparison to the previous month's cruise on Celebrity it was quite a letdown, and quite honestly our per night rate was not much different, maybe $5 more. In the future I'll leave these type cruises to first timers. But it was still a fun experience.