Hubby and I have been on 17 cruises with Crystal, Oceania, Azamara, Celebrity, Princess, Holland America, Norwegian, and now Royal Caribbean. So - the bar for my review will be set high.
1. Entertainment - absolutely phenomenal shows - Mama Mia, Sonic Odyssey, Starwater - best shows of any cruise I've ever been on
2. Cabin - I give this an A-. It was spacious enough, good enough bath with glass/plexiglass shower door instead of curtains, sufficient storage - OK balcony (small). I would have given it an A if the bed hadn't be SO hard and if the cabin had been stocked with toiletries - really, you have to ask for shampoo/conditioner/shower gel/body lotion? And there are no pens or paper in the cabin!
3. Food. Silk was absolutely awful foodwise. Wonderland was not very tasty. Jamie's Oliver Italian was excellent. Devinly Decadence was terrible. Our waiter told us that the entire meal would not exceed 500 calories. This was hard to believe so after we had a starter and appetizer we asked the host about the calorie content - apparently each dish is under 500 calories. The only low calorie dessert was a brownie the size of a thimble. The food tasted no better than weight watchers. For 1650 calories (that we consumed) - the meal would have been more enjoyable anywhere else. Stay away from here. The "lido" buffet in our opinion is the 3rd best of all the ships we have been on (Oceania is #1 in my opinion and Crystal is 2nd for the buffet) so we ate there for dinner several times. If you did not make reservations for the fee specialty and non-fee restaurants, you were really out of luck - reservations were such a pain.
4. Northstar was nice - but do not wait 2.5 hours to do this as we did.
5. Internet was pretty good - much better than on other ships. But the reception in our forward cabin was always poor - it was always good midship or aft. The watch idea was pretty good - you open your cabin door with it, buy things with it, etc. The Royal IQ did not work - ever - I never could load the app on the ship.
6. Reservations - we made most of them about 3 months beforehand. We needed to change some reservations and making changes were so problematic - I still do not understand the process for changing restaurant reservations. Too much trouble. And seemingly no one knows what to do. You have to go from 1 place to another to make changes -- to no avail if the staff is too busy. I was hoping the Royal IQ app would let you make reservations for dining & shows but the app never would load - was unusable.
7. TV - large screen, you can see your account - but the front desk made a lot of errors and you cannot really count on the account being up to date or accurate at a given moment.
8. Beverage package - We found this annoying but the lower price cruise lines do this. Be aware that if you got the soda package, and you want diet soda other than diet coke, you need to go to one of the 2 multisoda fountain dispensing machines in the "lido" buffet. Once you fill the tumbler that comes with the package, you have to wait 15 min to refill (the machine knows your tumbler number).
9. Elevators - very strange. The elevators kept not stopping at the deck requested. Very annoying and many folks complained about this.
10. Service. The staff/passenger ratio appears to be low which means much less personalization. Many people disliked the ship for this reason. But this is a large ship. Nonetheless, the staff need more training to be more friendly (at least look friendly) if not at all talkative. Our cabin steward, Jenny, was excellent - it seems like these cabin stewards have more cabins to clean compared with other cruises we have been on.
11. Shopping - not as good as I thought it would be on a large ship. Surprisingly "The Shop" had very few basic amenities that you might need if you forgot some stuff at home. A lot of $19.99 or $10 t-shirt stuff -- and then the high-priced cartier stuff - not much in between.
12. The ship: Beautiful - with many lovely and comfortable nooks and crannies for reading. TwoSeventy and the areas leading to 270 are wonderful.
Overall - I give this an 88% with the potential to move into the low 90s if the technological wrinkles are ironed out, the elevator situation is fixed, and the darned reservation system is improved (this last is the most important). I wanted to give 4.5 stars but could only give 4 or 5 so I went with 4