We have been on several RC cruises and wanted to try one of the bigger ships. We were on this ship with our son and daughter-in-law (separate rooms) who are in their 30's. We all really enjoyed ourselves and the ship. We parked at ... Read More
We have been on several RC cruises and wanted to try one of the bigger ships. We were on this ship with our son and daughter-in-law (separate rooms) who are in their 30's. We all really enjoyed ourselves and the ship. We parked at one of the "Park and Cruise" sites and were delivered to the ship without a problem. The line for security was a bit long because it is such a big ship, but it did move quickly. Being Platinum level we were able to get right in line to check in and then board the ship. Easy peasy. We all had our suitcases by around 6 pm.
We attempted to go to the Windjammer for lunch, but the lines were out the door so we headed to the Solarium Bistro at the other end of the ship. It was also quite busy, and we had to wait for a table, but it wasn't nearly as busy as the Windjammer. Overall, we tried to avoid the Windjammer on this trip. Food was mediocre, salty and boring. They did have a gluten-free area at lunch and dinner time, which our daughter-in-law needed to use. The gluten-free dessert options at the Windjammer were good, as was the gluten-free bread. The space is small for a ship of this size. However, the food was pretty much the same in that area of the ship most of the time. The Windjammer is actually quite small for a ship of this size.
There were 4 "Coke Freestyle" machines in the Windjammer on our cruise. (There were 2 more by Sorrento's Pizza.) They really need more of these machines - there was often a line. The pizza at Sorrento's was very good. There is a "make your own" option, and you can choose your options. It takes about 13 minutes and gluten-free pizza crust is also an option. (It was very good also.) The Park Cafe in Central Park is famous for it's roast beef sandwich (and salads) which were very good. We were a bit disappointed in the hotdog stand. It had limited hours and limited toppings, although the hot dogs themselves were good. They did not have a gluten-free bun though. Johnny Rockets was an adequate choice for breakfast (free) and quite busy throughout the day (service charge of $6.95, plus the cost of any shakes ordered.) Very few gluten-free options available at Johnny Rockets. The Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop was very good and they also have cupcakes ($). Gluten free cupcakes are an option ($) if ordered a day in advance, which was nice. This option is also available for a wide variety of other food allergies.
We ate dinner in the Main Dining Room (deck 4) each night and after a slow start on the first night, our servers did a great job attending to our needs. They took the time to learn our names and went over the next days menu each night with our daughter-in-law so she could choose her gluten-free foods. Dinner was very good and the bread fresh and tasty! Desserts were just ok, and as for gluten-free, outside of ice cream the only real choice was creme brulee. Very good, but not every night! We ate at Chops Grille one night - and we all agreed it was the best meal of the week. A very intimate, small setting. We also ate at Giovanni's, but we weren't overly impressed. The food was just "ok." Both had decent gluten-free options.
One of the things we noticed about this ship was the number of small, intimate areas. With over 6000 people on the ship, plus crew, it could easily feel as if there were too many people to contend with. Other than the number of people trying to get on the ship at the same time, and the same number trying to eat lunch, the only other chaotic time was the first dinner seating - everyone trying to find their table, etc. The Comedy club and the Ice Skating show/rink are small venues. There were lots of areas for sitting and relaxing - one of our favorites was the solarium, especially at night! As on lots of ships, there were a lot of people saving deck chairs early every day, BUT, I did see a crew member with a map documenting times and whether or not the chairs were actually occupied. I didn't actually see him reserve towels, but I liked knowing they really were paying attention. They will charge you for deck towels if they aren't returned under your room number, so be sure to pay attention to your towels.
Based on what we read here on line, we made all of our dinner and show reservations nearly 5 months in advance, which was a good idea. The shows were good - we loved the Aqua Theater show and the Comedy Club. The Ice show was also very good. I liked CATS, but the rest of our group was bored, so we left at intermission. They showed Boss Baby in the Opal Theater one afternoon, which was fun. The kids enjoyed the variety of bars/clubs, especially the Jazz Club and the bar that moved up and down (forgot the name). The parades looked like fun. The kids also spent a fair amount of time/money at Starbucks. We all played around in the Casino a bit - the machines were really, really tight, so it wasn't a "happening" place, but the slot machines were current and would've been fun if they were paying out. The casino had a very strong smoke smell and also the port side of the pool area of the deck (especially for smokers). It was set up nicely, but whew, it was smelly!
Free ice cream cones were available daily in the Wipeout Cafe and also by the center of the pool area (near the children's area). The children's area was really cute, and as you can imagine, busy. There was an adequate number of life guards, day and night. There were several hot tubs around the ship, also. More than I've experienced on other ships. Remember my note above about small, intimate areas? One evening we were the only 4 people in the hot tub in the Solarium. It was wonderful!
It was strange, but I had a hard time finding iced tea in the morning. The Windjammer, Johnny Rockets and the Solarium Bistro didn't have it, Sorrento's wasn't open and it took forever to get it in the Main Dining Room. I was able to get it from room service though. Strange - I haven't had this type of thing happen since we first started cruising 25+ years ago.
We only went on one excursion. In St. Maarten we took the Town Trolley Tour and were rained out. Unfortunately, we only received a 50% credit on the excursion - I guess because we got on it - even though it didn't follow the route it should have, was more than an hour short and we were in a monsoon rainstorm and soaked from the very beginning. Beware, we did ask for a refund, and were told we would get a letter with an explanation/decision later that day, which never arrived. We saw the 50% reimbursement show up on our room bill later that night as a credit. Since it was an onboard credit it was a "use it or lose it" situation, which didn't help my credit card, since I had fully paid for it before arriving on the ship. That was disappointing. I would have rather had the credit go straight to my credit card and expected more of a reimbursement/explanation also given what we considered extenuating circumstances.
The ship had a few movies at night at the Aqua Theater. They were recently released (still in the theater) shows, but only a couple of them and they were repeated a couple of times. (Princess Cruises has the "Movies at Sea" program which is heads and tails better than RC's movie program.) One note about the Aqua Theater - get there well in advance of your water show. Those with reservations are seated first in all of the venues but it was almost impossible for them to manage all the people coming in the entrances at the Aqua Theater and even though we were very early to the show we were only able to find a few seats at the bottom (in the "wet zone"). I'm pretty sure there were a lot of people there without reservations. The show is excellent though.
Because this ship is so big, it hardly ever feels like it's moving and I must admit, I did miss that a bit! The Boardwalk, Promenade and Central Park areas were beautiful. The ship is beautiful and we enjoyed it and would certainly sail on it or on one of that size again. Read Less