We chose this cruise because of the unique itinerary and embarkation port of San Juan, Puerto Rico. My parents, brother, and I wanted to visit Puerto Rico, so this cruise worked well. This was the first time I have been on Royal Caribbean, but my parents have been on three other RCI cruises. I've been on Carnival and NCL ships in the past.
Embarkation went smoothly as we did RCI's online check-in prior to boarding. The entire ship was very clean and nice looking. I especially liked the Royal Promenade and the Viking Crown lounge/Blue Moon nightclub. The ship's design seemed far more interesting than the other ships I've sailed on. There were plenty of public bathrooms around the ship. The mid elevators seemed very slow to get to your floor compared to other ships. We had a balcony room on Deck 6, portside (see cabin review below).
We had My Time Dining and ate in the MDR every night around 5:30 pm. The food was excellent and the waiters were all very friendly. Our favorite waiter, Wilmar, called us by name, asked us how our day went, told jokes, and made napkin art. Dinner lasted an hour and a half on average, which was longer than what we've experienced on other ships. We had Breakfast and lunch in the Windjammer, which is the buffet on RCI ships. That place was always crowded, and we sometimes had difficulty finding an open table. The breakfast food was almost always the same and okay at best, but I really enjoyed the many lunch options available. A major disappointment was finding out that there is a $7.95 fee for room service, so we didn't try that.
I thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment onboard! There were two production (singers/dancers) shows, two comedy shows with different comedians, an awesome illusionist show, and an ice show. There were also two DJs, an orchestra, and other musicians at venues around the ship. The normal activities, like bingo, trivia, poolside movies, and karaoke, were also available. Some other fun activities were the International Belly Flop competition, The 70s party, The Love & Marriage show, The Quest, and other gameshows. The recreational activities included the Flowrider, rock climbing, water slides, pools/whirlpools, ice skating, mini golf, ping pong/shuffleboard, and basketball.
There were many shore excursions offered through the cruise line, but they were overpriced as usual. We did the Champagne Fun snorkeling excursion in Bonaire through the cruise line which was a lot of fun (and champagne). We went on sightseeing trips on the other islands which costed half of what the cruise line was charging for almost the same excursion. My favorite island was Aruba because of the nice beaches and layout. We also did the Bottomless Galley Brunch tour of the galley, but that was less interesting than I was expecting. I'll post a picture of the fact sheet they give you on this tour.
Some minor complaints were the room service charge, the lack of soft serve ice cream available (only one old machine on the pool deck), the lack of a self-serve laundry facility, and the bad buffet hours (it closes at 9 pm each night, which is too early in my opinion). Other than those issues, we had a great cruise and I would definitely recommend this ship!
The stateroom was more spacious than I was expecting, and 4 people comfortably slept there. There was plenty of storage and the carpets looked newer. The balcony was decently sized with two chairs and a table. I recommend asking for more blankets to serve as padding for the pullout couch as it is very firm. Our stateroom attendant, Luki, was excellent and accommodated our irregular schedule well.
We explored Old San Juan and visited the two forts, San Cristobal and El Morro. We also rented a car and drove to El Yunque National Rainforest. We spent time on Carolina Beach and had a lot of fun here!
We did the Champagne Fun snorkeling tour. It was expensive but very fun. Captain Dave was funny and we saw a lot of colorful fish and shallow coral!View All 171 Snorkeling Reviews
We took a three-hour island tour in an air conditioned van. Two guides talked about Curacao's government and history, education system, industries (oil and tourism), and a variety of other information. We visited the downtown area with the floating bridge, Hato Caves, and we saw some flamingos. It was an okay tour.View All 224 Island Tour Reviews
We went on another independent island tour in an air conditioned shuttle van and Pedro talked about Aruba's history, government, wildlife, and beaches. We visited the Aruba Aloe factory, the rock formation, the lighthouse and church, and Eagle Beach. He picked us up from the beach and brought us back to the ship. Overall, a great tour.View All 248 Island Tour Reviews
We took another island tour in an air conditioned van through the taxi company. It was more expensive because the taxi company has a monopoly over the cruise port (other independent tours aren't allowed inside to compete with them). St. Maarten was very mountainous and beautiful. We visited both the French and the Dutch side and spent time at Maho beach. We didn't go to Orient (nude) beach, but that was also a pretty big attraction. It was okay at best.View All 437 Island Tour Reviews