This was our tenth ocean cruise (Seabourn, Cunard, HAL, Celebrity) and first on RCCL. Based on previous reviews, we expected a ship needing some refurbishment, mediocre service and disappointing food in the main dining room. None of this was our reality and we were very pleased, We chose the cruise based on timing and length of cruise (5 nights during my wife's spring break [she works at a college]).
Embarkation went smoothly in Miami and we were surrounded by college students, some families with young children and a few middle age/early retirement couples which met our expectations for a March Caribbean itinerary. We did arrive early in the boarding window which may have helped.
The ship is in great shape and very appealing. Perhaps there is too much glitz, but not as much as one would experience in Las Vegas. Were there a couple things to tidy up on maintenance? Minimal to none that we saw. And the crew did a marvelous job of keeping things clean and tidy. No rumors of significant illness, other than a likely epidemic of hangovers for 18 year olds. The lines at the bars were significant, but fellow cruisers with RCCL experience said that was unusual.
Cabin 8640 (balcony) was perfectly located just aft of the stern stairwell. Three decks up to the pool/buffet/fitness center and 3 decks down to our MDR level. Perhaps a coffee table would have fit, but the space was open and the storage was exceptional. The only better storage space we have experienced are walk in closets on Seabourn ships. Great design! The expected small bathroom of course. Of note, bar soap and shampoo was provided, contrary to other reviews. Our steward was efficient, friendly and unobtrusive.
We had excellent service in the MDR for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The specialty restaurants (Chops and Giovanni) were very good and probably worth the up-charge. Our only gripe/disappointment was the lack of adherence to the dress code. Should adults, adolescents and children appear at dinner in the restaurants in shorts, t-shirts and sporting baseball caps on their heads? At the risk if being old fashioned, I say NO! It is discourteous to fellow dinners and is insulting to the staff. If RCCL has a dress code (yes), they should enforce it. Otherwise, drop the pretense of a dress code. There, our only real disappointment was fellow travelers. This sloppiness was not restricted to college students, more the shame
Entertainment was fair to good, except for an excellent, do-not-miss ice show. Really, it was spectacular despite a couple falls and near falls. Great performers, stagecraft, lighting and music. If you travel on a RCCL ship that offers this show, make a point of seeing it.
Cruise Director was nearly invisible other than production shows and daily announcements. We were fine with that, he was uninspiring. The DJs, as usual, played the music way too load. Do you need to strip the paint off the neighboring ships with your pool deck speakers? This is not unique to RCCL, so sad to say.
We did excursions in both ports and booked them independently. Our Mayan guide at Costa Maya was exceptional. Finding your way out of the fake port of Costa Maya is a real challenge, sort of like trying to get out of a Las Vegas casino. Just keep going left past the pool. Cozumel, with 8 ships in port, was crowded but surprisingly the Playa Mia beach resort was not real busy. We learned to make salsa there and had a great time.
This was the least expensive cruise we have experienced, so the value was very high. With tips and not including air fare and independent excursions, we paid less than $200 per person per night. We bought 2 bottles of wine and had one or 2 additional drinks (no beverage package purchased) each night and still came under $200. Based on our experience, we may very well cruise RCCL again. I was expecting a one time experience, but they have won one me over as a potential repeat traveler.
Well laid out with exceptional storage. Comfortable bed. Nice balcony. Great location for us (3 decks up to pool deck/buffet/fitness center), 3 down to MDR, 4 down to Royal Promenade/favorite dance floor. Small bathroom, as expected. Good lighting. We would gladly stay in this cabin again.