Been on a couple RCCL cruises in the last 4 years and our group of 11 opted for this cruise due to the great experiences we had on the previous cruises. I'm sorry to say, to us, it was obvious the services on the ship are sorely lacking, lots of rust on the exterior surfaces showing through the white paint. On previous ships you'd often see workers out with paint and bucket keeping things tidy, not on this boat. Rust was prevalent everywhere. Other ships in port didn't show any rust on the ship body proper when looking, sure did see it on the Serenade, example; the place the anchor comes out of, all orange with rust, nasty looking.
The nightly towel sculptures, gone...got 3 over 7 days and a lame effort at that, that could surely just have been our lame steward though. We had 4 aft balcony rooms all next to each other and all of us felt the same.
While out on deck, you get used to see workers constantly running around asking if you'd like drinks of any sort...gone....now that many folks get drink packages they no longer have people trying to push drinks. Figure they're saving lots of money on drinks by not having the wait staff asking customers out on deck if they want drinks.
Now you need to go to the deck bar and get your own drinks, which is fine but staff the bar with enough tenders to handle the crowd! Many days there was only 1 or 2 bar tenders on and there would be a fairly long wait for a beverage.
The quality of the food in the buffet has also dropped by a fair amount. Same things every morning and little change in the afternoon. Went to dinner buffet once and it was so unappealing that we walked to Chops and had dinner instead.
The regular dining room food was good though, service a bit slow but someone we were traveling with is works in a restaurant and she said the service was slow because of the size of our group and us being pigs and ordering too many apps!!
To us, it just seems RCCL just doesn't care about the ship's appearance or the quality of the entertainment for the guests. Live deck music twice a day for 45 minutes each. Heck, if it is a nice day (and they were) and there are tons of people on the deck, leave the band out the play! no, the band played for 45 and was gone, then they take that nice big screen TV and put an aquarium view on it, show a movie, news, sports...something! we see enough fish snorkeling!
The ports were good...didn't care for New Orleans itself but the other ports seemed nice. Our excursion in Jamaica never happened as after waiting for 75 minutes for the bus to show up we just cancelled. RCCL said they didn't expect so many people and didn't plan properly.
The excursion in Grand Cayman got cut in half, they said the water was too rough to snorkel so we only did the stingray tour, which was awesome. they gave us back $20 on a $80 tab due to no snorkeling.
The snorkeling in Cozumel was good, the seas were just as rough as in Cayman but these guys still brought us out and it was just fine.
All in all, if you've never cruised before you'll think this ship if the best...if you have and know what a decent cruise is, you won't come back. It is unfortunate too, we made a point of going with RCCL again only because our prior experiences were good. They lost 11 customers this time. There were also plenty of other travelers that were stating much of the same things that I commented on, the ship exterior condition (rust) and the quality of the breakfast and lunch buffets.
There were a couple really nice ships we saw in port, with no rust! that looked mighty nice and might be worth investigating for next time around. MSC and Holland America...
Awesome room, not sure of the category but it was and aft balcony, great room!