This was our first cruise. I'm 24 and my husband is 36 and we couldn't decide where to go on our first big holiday so we decided a cruise was the way to go as we could see a few places. We booked through an internet agent which was simple and got a good deal. We went from Barcelona (we stayed there for 2 nights before going on the cruise) and then went to Cannes, Florence, Rome, at sea and then Barcelona again. We wanted a balcony as I was worried about feeling claustrophobic so we paid extra. We hadn't travelled very much at all before so all the documents and information we received from Royal Caribbean seemed daunting eg online check-in, all the stuff you had to remember to take and do (vaccinations/visas etc), shore excursions and dress codes etc, but in reality I worried much too much and checking in was absolutely fine online and all we had to bring with us was our setsail passes and passports as a lot didn't apply to us. The port in Barcelona is best to get to by taxi and only costs about €15 from the city centre. You'll get left right up to the terminal for embarkation. Like I said, embarkation was very simple and before we knew it we were on the ship and it was amazing - no wear and tear, it looked like brand new, so clean and shiny and luxurious and we went straight to the Windjammer for lunch as our room wouldn't be ready for an hour. The Windjammer is great. There were always seats no matter what time of the day as it is huge and the range of food was brilliant - rice, stirfry, chinese, sushi, roast dinners, burgers, chips, sandwiches, desserts, always vegetables and freshly prepared fruit and best of all a constant supply of free iced water, iced tea, fruit punch and lemonade which saved us a lot of money as I drink a LOT of water! This meant that we didn't have to buy juice for my husband and bottled water at all and as we don't drink alcohol (nothing against it, just grew out of it) we didn't buy any drinks on the cruise at all as the Windjammer is open all day with the exception of about an hour in between breakfast and lunch and lunch and dinner and you can go in simply to lift a few drinks and head out to your room or the pool, etc. It was a godsend as I hate spending money on overpriced drinks. The breakfasts in the Windjammer are unbelievable - the waffles with whipped cream and strawberries are to die for, plus there is prepared fruit, bacon, eggs, muffins, cereal, etc, etc, etc you would need a very long cruise to try everything! The food was really top class. We ate in Coppelia and on our first day there we asked the Maitre'd if we could have a table just for us two and he was able to do that (although if you want to do this you need to go at the allotted time specified on the welcoming information left in your room). We were both really pleased as we prefer our own company and wanted more "romantic" dining rather than meeting people. The service was excellent. Both our waiter and assistant waiter were great. The menu was varied and delicious and I had some of the nicest food I have ever tasted - the fresh fruit with lime syrup starter, pasta with marinara sauce, thai chicken with coconut rice and the baklava dessert on the last night all stick in my memory as being wonderful. Both me and my husband are quite fussy eaters but there was always at least 3 choices on each course that we would have enjoyed. We ordered room service a couple of times (its free)- we just got a jug of iced water and cookies (the coconut cookies are amazing) and it was always there in about 10 minutes. The Royal Promenade also serves free cookies and tea and coffee until 11pm. The ship is really fun to be on. There is something for everyone, young people, older, people who love to party (excellent cocktail list), people who like sports, people (like us) who wanted to relax after being out at the port of call all day and we spent a lot of time at the solarium nipping in and out of the jaccuzzi and lying on the deck chairs reading. There was always something on like bingo or a pool party or ice skating (which I did) or rock climbing or an ice show (which was really good) but it was really nice just to relax and sit or walk around on the boat looking out to sea. The shops on the Royal Promenade are good. Duty free alcohol, perfume, a nice souvenir shop, jewelry, etc but the best thing was that the Promenade looked like a street - it was amazing. The whole feel of the boat is just lovely. Our room was lovely - massive bed, nice decor, lovely balcony, good tv and nice bathroom. Our stateroom attendant was great and our room was really clean and tidy and they left towels shaped into different animals every night which i took photos of because it was such a nice funny touch (we even went to a towel folding demonstration and they gave us a leaflet of how to do it - yes, I know it's not exactly rock & roll for a 24 year old but it was funny..honestly!). The ship also didn't move until our day at sea and then it was very minimal - no sea sickness at all. The sea pass works very well - we chose to pay in cash and had brought our dollars with us. Its very easy to keep track of as you can see exactly what you spend on your tv so you are in complete control and the Guest Relations desk was always open and very helpful. We didn't take a shore excursion in Cannes as you arrive right in Cannes so you can get about yourself but we did book A Taste of Florence and A Taste of Rome as both cities are about 1 1/2 hours away from the port and I didn't trust ourselves to get to the ship and back ourselves. The Florence tour was very well run and it consisted of being "babysat" on the coach to Florence with a guide who gave you a great map and you could ask hr questions about how to get to places you wanted. Then after a 2 hour tour you were left on your own for 3 hours and then met up at a designated meeting point to head back to the ship. It was the same with the Rome excursion although our guide was not as good or diligent about not losing people and as you cant speak in St Peter's we were given headphones to link us up to the guide which didn't work well. Personally I found the excursions overpriced - they cost us £200 altogether but it was worth it for peace of mind as we didn't want to have to organize travel ourselves and risk missing the ship. I would personally now do the Florence and Rome on Your Own tours as then you are taken there and back with a guide on the bus you can get a map off and ask questions to but you have the whole time to yourself to look around. The more expensive tours often include lunch or entry fees into some of the places you see but these ones didn't so you were literally paying for the bus and a very minimal tour. If you are arriving right in the city (like Cannes) do not bother with an excursion as like I said, it was overpriced and you can do everything on your own, but for someone with little travelling experience, the shore excursions are useful. All in all, the cruise was simply perfect - all you could want and something for everyone. We cannot wait to cruise again, possibly next year but more likely the year after next (what with the credit crunch!!). I will always sail with Royal Caribbean now as I trust them and know what to expect now. It far surpassed my expectations.