Chose to travel on Royal Caribbean for the first time having heard how much better they were compared to Carnival which is the line we have used for many years. The plus side for them was on the following areas, embarkation, debarkation, buffet, shows.
Getting in and out of the ship was the fastest we have ever experience, even with the VIP treatment at Carnival. They had real Broadway type shows with excellent performers two nights and a funny comedian on another. For the past few years Carnival shows have been amateur at best and done by the passengers the rest of the time.
As soon as you board the ship you can tell the quality of construction and amenities all throughout. As usual as soon as we boarded we headed to the Lido deck to check their buffet area, of course since there were not too many passengers yet, there were plenty of empty areas to choose from to sit and enjoy lunch. Here we saw a big difference between them and Carnival, there were no one or two long food areas but several smaller "islands" for food service, with this system we never had to stand in line during the entire trip.Quite different with Carnival's loooong lines most of the time.
The first night we chose to try the main restaurant, earlier we had talked with the maitre'd and requested a table for two or three couples since we enjoy talking to other passengers during dinning, he had a hard time matching the computer table numbers with the actual numbers on the tables nearby, he finally gave us a number for that evening. When we arrived that night we were escorted to the back of the restaurant to a table for 10. On top of that the other 8 people were an entire family, so needless to say, we hardly had a word with them since they were having a grand time.
Service took forever, the food was not great and we left before dessert came.
The other three nights we enjoyed the Windjammer with no problems. The major problems there were they had just a couple of tables for two so even if we had no trouble getting to the food, we had trouble getting a spot with no one on it.
Carnival's pizza is not the best but ran circles around the one they were serving there, they also had ONE soft ice cream machine but on the plus side they provided many different toppings to put on it.
We had an inside cabin which was clean and with sufficient storage for two people's "stuff" The bathroom did not have an outlet and as like Carnival's,they provided one bar of soap (gone are the days of a welcome basket there) Their mattresses NEED to be replaced, just like Canival's, you can tell there has been many overweight passengers sleeping on them.
On the plus side, they DID have a refrigerator which was welcomed. Our steward (never knew his name) was hardly seen and never said a word or introduced himself unlike all the other stewards we ever had. On the Carnival ships there are always workers on the isles who always say something to you when you pass them by, on this ship you hardly passed any of them and when you did, they never said a word (actually one said "good morning" once) They were obviously recruited from a different part of the world.
One BIG disappointment were their whirlpools/hot tubs, they had THREE small ones for 3 people each for a thousand passenger ship. Never got to use our bathing suits.
Their "swimming" pools were no better
We did enjoyed their small movie theater on deck 6 where they showed new releases.
Their treadmills had no monitors so there was nothing to watch on them and the rest of the gym was unimpressive.
All in all, it was a good voyage which we enjoyed, but will stick with Carnival.
Smaller than Carnival's but sufficient, enjoyed use of the refrigerator but mattresses need to be replaced. Did not requested an exchanged because they would have probably brought me another one that was returned from another passenger.
The embarkation was the fastest ever on any cruise, as it was the debarkation.
Ibor City is a good place to visit while there, before or after the trip.