This review is long, but I appreciate reading the long ones myself for all the extra info, so I wanted to give something back. We went on this ship for our 10th anniversary. This was my DH's 2nd cruise and my 3rd. We both cruised RCCL ... Read More
This review is long, but I appreciate reading the long ones myself for all the extra info, so I wanted to give something back. We went on this ship for our 10th anniversary. This was my DH's 2nd cruise and my 3rd. We both cruised RCCL on our honeymoon and my first cruise before that was on Carnival in 2001. Overall, we had a great time. We are from Texas and flew into Orlando for Disney and Universal before heading off on this cruise (we took a rental car to Port Canaveral). And after having a horrible experience in our hotel (another story altogether), our cruise cabin was great. We were in balcony room 7116.
Pre-cruise: We flew in from Dallas on Southwest and reserved a Budget rental car with a great deal thru Southwest. We drove to Port Canaveral and dropped off the rental there at the Budget location at the port and took their shuttle back to the ship, no problem. The porters were great and nothing was broken in our luggage.
Embarkation: Very smooth. I was stopped by security because I chose to carry on a metal and enamel jewelry box from Disney so it wouldn't get broken, and the security officer searching my bag couldn't have been nicer, very friendly. I will say that this cruise didn't seem to be as booked as I thought it would be for a Labor Day weekend, or as crowded as some folks on here talk about. So this was nice, as the dining options and ports of call were less crowded. Also, I still had some bottles of soda in my carry-on from the hotel and they didn't say anything about them. And I was able to bring on an extension cord, no problem.
Sea Pass cards: I ran into several other cruisemates who had issues with their cards getting deactivated, including myself. I also ran into this issue multiple times on my last RCCL cruise back in 2004 on our honeymoon. In 10 years, I was surprised to see this still being an issue, especially when I can have the same credit card for years and never have this issue. I was disappointed this is still happening after all these years, so beware.
Ship and cabin: I read other reviews here about how dated the ship looks, but I didn't see it. Everything looked attractive and clean. And our cabin was nice too. We did have a fridge. There were items in it you had to pay for, but there was still room if you wanted to put in your own items instead. No problem with the toilet flushing and we never smelled any bad smell as I often read about here. We were on deck 7, but we perused many of the lower floors and never smelled anything. Only thing was that I noticed on the room steward carts on our floor that there were tubes of lotions and/or shampoos, etc. But we never received any of these and I'm not sure why, since we were on the same floor and in a balcony room. All we received was bar soap, no tubes of anything. We did meet our cabin steward several times, and he was very nice. I didn't mention the tubes...I didn't see them on the carts till like the last night. We did get a different towel animal every day, very cute. I love those! Also, our luggage arrived at the cabin pretty quickly . (Although our poor neighbors weren't so lucky. Their luggage was lost and they commented that they might have to wear their bathing suits to formal night...LOL! Although, I think they did get their luggage a little while later.)
Food: The highlight of mine and DH's day was dinner in the MDR. We booked so early that we were blessed enough to get a table for two (by request when I booked a year ago) by the window, and what a GREAT window view! We had early seating so it was always light enough to see out on the water. On our cruise we saw a tanker, cargo ship, Carnival ship and even a surfaced military submarine! Loved this view! And our servers Eduardo and Nitish were fabulous! I usually wanted two appetizers because I couldn't decide...no problem for Eduardo at all, even when DH and I split a second entree or dessert. With early dining, we often had to rush back from what we were doing, like in Nassau...but this table was worth it! As for the Windjammer, I can't say the same. The embarkation lunch wasn't that great, so that's when we decided to stick to the MDR...excellent decision, as it turned out. We did the MDR breakfast the first morning and room service breakfast on our balcony the second morning. MDR breakfast was OK, not as good as dinner though. We liked the room service breakfast on the balcony the best. For debarkation breakfast, there wasn't much choice, so we tried the Windjammer and it was pretty busy and it wasn't that great in our opinion. Good variety, but some things just didn't taste right to us. For Park Cafe, we had some late night snacks there like pizza and cookies and they were OK, but they didn't really wow us.
Beverages: We don't really drink, but I did want a souvenir glass and the soda package, and the bars always seemed pretty crowded and you had to wait a bit for service, but they do seem to be doing their best and they were very nice. I loved the freestyle Coke machines, but for a period of like 24 hours, there was one of the only two machines on board that was out of carbonation, making the drinks very unpleasant. I reported to Guest Services and the issue was fixed, but I was surprised it was like this for so long on such a short cruise. Other cruisemates were also complaining of the same issue. The Guest Services gentleman that helped us with the deactivated card and the Coke machine issue was very nice and helpful. We did wait a very long time in line for Guest Services though, like about 20-30 minutes. So some additional help there would be nice. One more note about Guest Services. I had a coupon for onboard credit from an RCCL coupon book. I went to Guest Services to get it put onto our account and the lady was clueless and kept looking up our account to see if it was there. I kept telling her no, its a coupon that I need added to the account. She left for a long time and finally came back telling me they wouldn't honor it. Said that I had to call RCCL to get it added prior to the cruise. I think that is ridiculous, because how would someone on the phone know I had the coupon? It didn't have a code or anything to type in. (And it didn't expire till the end of this year, so that wasn't the issue) It also did not say you had to call and get it added ahead of time. She really didn't act like she cared. She acted more like we were annoying her with an issue that was taking more of her time than she wanted. I wish we had gotten that other Guest Services gentleman for this issue. I feel like he would have been more helpful and may have even been able to do something for us. So if you have any coupons for something, be sure and call RCCL about it before your cruise. Also, we are C&A Gold members, and our account did have the Gold member discounts. But beware...be sure and mention that you want to use your discount before the server rings up what you are buying, or else they won't be able to apply it. For example, I had the BOGO drink discount on my account and purchased a glass of wine, but didn't specifically mention the discount. The server said he didn't realize I had it and would have to ring up another in order to use the right "code" for the coupon. So I had to buy another to get the discount. So just let them know ahead of time.
Nassau: We didn't do any RCCL excursions here, so what I have to say is no reflection on them, but I thought it might be helpful for some. My favorite part was the Pirates Museum. It's this little museum that was only $12 that I had been planning to visit for this trip. You could spend as much or as little time there as you want. There is some interesting history about pirates and a quaint little gift shop (not as big as the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop at Disney mind you). But one of the tour guides dresses as a pirate and has some interesting facts and this little sort of a "show" that he does as you go thru it...he was cool. Also, I really was looking forward to going to the Straw Market to get souveneirs for my family and friends. But I swear, those people just ran me out of there, literally! Their sales tactics are horrible! Someone needs to instruct them on how to make sales and good customer service (I know that is probably a laugh). I was so disappointed. They were so greedy, they didn't want you to look at their neighbors' booths, just theirs...even if they didn't have what you wanted, they didn't care. They would try and guilt you into buying stuff like by saying, "come on, it's been a slow day and I need to make a sale". I'm sorry, but I can't help that. They wouldn't let you look around, they just bug you to death. If you saw something in the next booth, they would try to bully you into buying from them instead, whether you wanted that item or not. Finally my DH and I practically RAN out of there, without even getting what I was looking for. There was a shop nearby that was selling similar items for maybe just a dollar more that I shopped in. And since it was an actual store and not someone's "booth", they didn't bother you. How nice it was to just peruse the store and pick out your beach towel or bag or T-shirt without someone nagging the crud out of you! Unfortunatley, I did miss out out on some of the handmade stuff, since we had to run out of there. And I do see talk on here about the knock-off purses. So I do want to mention that. I admit, I was looking for one for my Mom (she really wanted one) for a Christmas gift and a lady asked if I was interested...I was. So she was great. She took me to like 5 different shops till we found what I was looking for. It wasn't this 'scary' area either. It was right there across the street from the other shops we were looking at. I never felt unsafe. They even had a security guard in some of the shops and they took credit cards too, which surprised me. I was glad, because I was out of cash by that point.
CocoCay: The BBQ lunch on CocoCay was pretty good, and we were the only ship this weekend, so there was no line, which was nice. We booked a jet ski excursion with RCCL, but they let us know that the water was very choppy, like a "washing machine", and some folks had fallen off. I am not a strong swimmer so they let us cancel with a full refund if we wanted to, which was very nice. And they say you don't need cash on the island. This is not true. There is like a "mini" Straw Market here. And they don't bug you to death! But I didn't bring cash because I was told I didn't need it. So I missed out on some things I could have gotten that I didn't get in Nassau when they ran me out. So bring cash! If you have an excursion, they do have lockers for free. (at least at the jet ski excursion, they were free for us)
Entertainment: The welcome aboard show was a comedian and was very funny. They offered a talk on shopping in Nassau with offers of a free charm bracelet and charms...but you actually had to go to each afore mentioned jewelry shop in Nassau to get the charms. I would like for them to have offered some tips and suggestions on shops other than jewelry and the 'color changing' stuff. Even if they weren't "RCCL affiliated" it would still have been nice. (I put this in my feedback suggestion to them) My favorite part was the Karaoke every night (I am a karaoke queen anyway!), plus they have "rock band" karaoke the last night, where you can sing with a live band! It was neat, even though the song selection for that was very limited. The last night's show was a Broadway-type show that I really liked, 'Stage to Screen' with numbers from stage shows turned movies. Some of the shows they picked I thought could have been replaced with more mainstream shows (one of the shows I had never seen or heard of at all), but they did have 'Chicago' and 'Little Shop of Horrors' which were very good. And I thought the singers and dancers were very good, and I am a singer and dancer myself, so I feel I can judge. LOL!
Debarkation: We chose not to carry our own bags off the ship. We had too many extra bags after buying stuff from Disney and Universal. And I can honestly say we were glad we didn't. It wasn't crowded and debarkation was smooth and quick and we got our bags immediately and there were porters available with carts to help us. They were great!
Wrap up: I looked a while to find a cruise that was going for Labor Day weekend and this was the only one. Another cruisemate I spoke to on the ship said the same thing. We booked a longer cruise with our kids for next year on a bigger ship (not RCCL) out of Galveston so we can drive instead of fly. So for longer cruises, a bigger ship might be a better choice. But for a quick getaway, I would say this cruise is a good choice. All in all, I have had good service and amenities with RCCL. I can't say that I will always go with RCCL, because for me, I book for things other than just the cruise line...like length of cruise, departure port, price, etc. But I can say that given the opportunity, I would cruise with RCCL again. Read Less