I'd have to say that this cruise was a success, and that by-and-large I was happy with the entire package. That said, I have my reservations about cruising on this size ship again, and with Royal Caribbean specifically. Everything was ... Read More
I'd have to say that this cruise was a success, and that by-and-large I was happy with the entire package. That said, I have my reservations about cruising on this size ship again, and with Royal Caribbean specifically. Everything was fine, nothing blew me away, some things were disastrous.
Embarkation - A hardcore full on disaster. Arrived port 1030, got on board ship somewhere between 1330-1400. Normally this is not so much the line's fault as customs, but in this instance it was all RCCL. 7 crew members were caught smuggling drugs into the country and thus the ship was FOREVER getting cleared. RCCL herded us into various chaotic holding areas as this time drug on. I hear that around 1300 some people were given juice, and light snacks, but I personally saw none of this. I sat, with cattle, and starved as breakfast was a LONG time since.
Stateroom - Deluxe Ocean View Room, Starboard, slightly aft, 7306. No complaints here at all. Loved the central location, being just a few decks above Royal Promenade, a mere 4 decks directly above the dining hall proved invaluable in skipping the dreaded "wait for the elevator". Room was by no means spacious, but was modern, quiet, well-equipped with storage space. Balcony was very nice, private, and spacious, and equipped with two chairs, and a small table. Television was a little un-reliable but I never watch on a cruise anyway, so no issue there. The seapass account was nearly impossible to view on the TV 3-4 minute wait when it DID come up, which was totally hit or miss, and the folio was not updated until day five, which I thought was a little ridiculous.
Public Rooms - This was a highlight. The entire public area of this ship is A+. Truly breath-taking art collection on board, literally everywhere you look is something exquisite. Royal Promenade is awe-inspiring, as are the two atriums at either end. Other highlights: Cosmopolitan Lounge, Two Poets Pub, Champagne Bar, and the connoisseur Club.
Dining - This was one of the low-lites I'm sorry to say. The Dining Room itself is a treasure. I was on main floor, Deck 3, Nutcracker. The food was quite obviously mass-produced. I don't mind that it was mass food, since there were over 3,000 guests on board, but I do mind that it was so painfully impersonal. Things that should have been hard and caramelized were soft, and soggy. There was very little to no possibility of having anything seasoned to your specific taste, or getting anything off menu. Sadly, I'd have to say this food was far below what you'd expect at any medium rated restaurant. The classic "MMmmmm" never came close to escaping my mouth. The food was similar to what you'd find at a slightly low quality chain I guess. TGI Friday's like perhaps. None of it was horrid, but some of it was close, while nothing really came close to grand.
The menu was quite unimaginative, and limited. Nothing positive I can say about this.
Our waiter was a total failure. No personality, night seven I was still sir, never got to know my name, never asked, never once made eye contact. When taking my order he mumbled, and seemed annoyed and displeased when I'd have say two starters instead of one. EVERY day I got a fruit bowl instead of a salad. Days 5 and 6 he brought me salad for some unknown reason, and only brought the fruit when asked. Quite possibly one of the least friendly waiters of my life, but for 7 nights in a row. It was not for lack of trying, he was not slacking, just very shy, and with no personality. Due to this, I blame not him, but RCCL for putting him in a position he was clearly not comfortable with. I asked out Ass't waiter if our waiter was new one night, to which he replied "nooooo, sir, very senior." SIGH!
The aforementioned Ass't waiter was A+. He was fast with the bread, attentive to the drinks, funny, engageable, and had a fabulous memory.
Head Waiters was pleasant, and fine. Nothing great, or horrid.
Aside from that the food on the ship was relatively all over the place. The buffet Windjammer IMO was the best food option on the ship. Excellent, in every way. Johnny Rockets was the biggest ripoff on the ship. $3.95 on your seapass all you can eat, 'cept for your shakes which of course are also $3.95 and just happen to be what Johnny Rockets are known for. I dropped $13 on the place, but could have had the same meal for free in the Windjammer. Cafe Promenade was the spot for late night diners, and was fine, but not impressive at all.
Room Service was often earlier than ordered, or later than ordered but when you got it, was quite nice. However, one night my order never arrived. I ordered, waited an hour, called back to be told there was no order for me, replaced order, waited another hour got nothing, called back and cancelled and was told again no order was in for me? Not sure what happened there.
Entertainment - gets a passing grade, though not much more. In the main theatre one show was SUPER, two were good, one was decent, and another was so bad I left in the middle. I skipped one altogether as I wanted to just hang out.
Shipboard activities were well varied and from what I saw very well organized. Had only good times, not a single negative here.
RCCL personnel - ran the gamut from great, to awful. I was treated like a king, and like a piece of trash. Mostly in between of course. All in all, the good outweighed the bad.
Shore excursions - Labadee I opted to just hang out and do whatever. Did some climbing exploring in the Dragons's Head area, swam a bit, etc. Did not really prefer this port, but can't really say anything bad about it either. Good place to relax and be unfettered.
Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Did the Dunn's River Falls/Dolphin Cove combo. Dunn's river was great, took a boat from the pier to the beach where the falls end. Climbed up apart from the guides with just the wife and myself. Great fun. Dolphin's Cove is a total waste. Lame excuse for a zoo where uninterested guides take you on a walk and show you birds, snakes, and coffee. Then, they say "look, here are dolphins" in this cage, aren't they funny? Worst experience in a port ever. Never, ever again. My advice is to skip the excursions, take a taxi to the falls and have a blast.
George Town - Scheduled Rays and Reef Combo but as usual they cancelled as the water was "a tad choppy" and apparently the 6 year olds they had booked stood a strong chance of drowning. Anyway, found a divemaster on our own, and did the Rays and Reef anyway. Good clean fun here, Rays are a trip. George Town itself has no soul, no personality other than being a place of commerce. Generally a place to avoid I'd say.
Cozumel - Tulum Express. Focus on express. Here are the ruins, look, pretty, now, see them in the rear view mirror? Just too quick. Aside from that I did enjoy myself. Great tour guides, very interested in providing good experience, and very gracious and kind.
As I say, some great, some ok, some bad, some awful. I think I'll give it a grade of C+. Read Less