This was my 9th Cruise. Four on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Four on Carnival Cruise Lines and one on Norwegian. It had been 18 years (1996) since my last RCL cruise. So that is my qualifier. Now the Port of Galveston started things off on a bad note by having the lousiest run "official" Parking Service there is in the world. $70.00 to park for a week uncovered and they do not even have enough buses to service the parking lot. No sidewalks and crosswalks if you decide to walk. So on a 98 degree F day you are standing in the SUN waiting on a bus or walking about 4 city blocks across un-mowed grass and railroad tracks to get to the cruise terminal. Royal Caribbean lines you up and starts boarding at 10:30am and they send you a text to try to get everyone to space it out by telling you a time to get there. FORGET THAT!. They have six X-ray machines but will not run more than three at a time so any semblance of organization is out of the window. Get there so that you are at the terminal at 10:30 and fall into the cue, first come, first served. That was my first lesson learned. Because I was told to get there at 1:30PM by RCL. I started parking my car at 11:30PM, was at the gate at 1:00pm and was 3:30PM getting on the Ship. Lousy experience mostly caused by the Port of Galveston and Royal Caribbean's contracted Security Service.
The ship is awesome. It is a thing to behold. RCL has the top of the class when it comes to Large Cruise Ships. Since my significant other works in education we had to schedule the cruise in the summer months of June or July. That was a mistake for us as we are both approaching 60 with no kids. The ship had booked a record capacity of 3,900 people with 1,100 of them being kids (
Our stateroom was an inside one which is what I try to book because I never spend time in any hotel room or accommodation I ever have. I am a get up and get to seeing and doing kind of a person. Besides the inside staterooms sleep the best because they are so dark you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The room was wonderful and the room attendant was great. Not as good as I have had in the past but way above adequate.
Food is something that I do not live for but main dining was good and we had dinner at main dining all but one night, because of a wonderful family we met at our table the first night. We enjoyed their company so much we just could not stand not seeing them. The ship was straining at the seams so some of the food was served not hot. It was lukewarm which is a pet peeve of mine. But I suffered that because I do not try to find fault. I will have to mention that RCL has went to what they call open dining for Breakfast and Lunch but it is more like assigned seating and filling empty slots. Any sense of choice is lost and I did not care for it so we only tried main dining once for breakfast and walked out when they tried to sit us at a table with 10 other people. I am not that friendly at breakfast. I did not like it and I have wrote RCL about it. I liked the way it used to be where you walk in and sit yourself. That is open dining.
The Windjammer, is wonderful and was the best buffet of any ship I have been on and it was always warm, clean and inviting. Sometimes you had to wait for a table because of the crowds (I suspect from no one using the main dining) but you did not have to wait very long. My only complaint was the soft serve machine on the Port side was constantly broke down overloading the one on the Starboard side. And they never put enough ice in the drinks. But if that is all that you can complain about you are in pretty good shape.
I did not use any of the premium dining venues as they were booked. I personally do not agree with the concept but it makes them a lot of money evidently. So I cannot report on them. Everything else we tried was wonderful. I do not like the fact they do not have movie theaters anymore and instead have ice skating rinks but then I am older.
CONCLUSION: I think that from observation it works like this. Bigger is not better if you are say 50 and older with no kids. I am not going to use boogie boards, basketball courts and ice skating rinks, etc. Also when you get over a number some where between 2,700 and 3,900 passengers on board a ship there is a point of diminishing returns in the area of service and personalization. It is a numbers game after all. Now if you have kids or are in your 40's and younger you should go all the way to the Oasis class or as large as you can. It gives you so much variety and you will use those amenities. But for me I am going to resign myself to the smaller passenger ships so we booked on the Radiance Class ship for the next one. I will report on that in January of 2015.
Great Cabin. Could have been two degrees cooler but it was tolerable. No complaints.