We will just do this review by lists, as it will give folks a blow-by-blow idea of what we loved and what kind of disgusted us. Before I start, let me say I would possibly consider cruising on this ship again, but with some major reservations.
Things I LOVED!!!
1) Ship is visually stunning! The main promenade is impressive, the public areas very clean, the decks roomy and well cared for, and the cabins very clean.
2) Raymond, our cabin steward was TOP NOTCH. Grace, our primary waitress was TOP NOTCH. Karin, my wife's spa masseuse, was TOP NOTCH!
3) Food in the "added cost" restaurants was amazing! Great filet mignon, lobster, octopus, chocolate souflees' and OHHHH, so much more!
4) Work out room, steam room and sauna are great
5) The big Broadway-style shows and the Ice Show are absolutely fantastic!!! I work in the entertainment industry, and these were the finest executed and produced cruise ship shows I've ever seen. Bravo to the performers, show designers, instrumentalists and choreographers
6) LOTS of activities to do on the ship. If you ever get bored on this ship, it's your own fault. We shopped, dined, swan, laid out, worked out, got a massage, danced, attended comedy shows, miniature golfed, played trivia, went to an art auction, watched movies, took romantic strolls, read, and much more.....ALL on the ship!
7) Ride of the ship is smooth, and the captain and steering crew did a great job. Ports of Curacao (WOW!!!!!) Aruba (beautiful, but over-crowded) St Maarten (great shopping) and St Thomas (Magen's Bay Beach was astounding).....all the ports were very enjoyable and worth it
Stuff We Thought Was Average
1) Food in the Windjammer (crowded, but not terrible) and in the main dining room in just a little above average. Truly ok, but nothing special
2) TV stations (would've liked more of a selection)
3) Wi-Fi (over-priced and inconsistent.....keeps kicking you off)
WHAT WE ABSOLUTELY HATED!!!!
1) Bar staff circulates constantly EVERYWHERE, and you can't relax by the pool, because every 30-60 seconds (not an exaggeration) another waiter is walking by asking you if you want your 5th cocktail of the day!)
2) There's a constancy of "up-selling" on this ship that borders dangerously on the feeling of a 7-day long TIMESHARE PRESENTATION!!!! "Do you wanna buy these photos?"...."Do you wanna upgrade your supper choice for tomorrow?"...."Do you wanna sign up for more shore excursions?"...."Do you wanna buy a watch...t-shirt....cupcake...water bottle....bottle of cologne....it's exhausting!!!!!
3) THE WORST THING ABOUT THIS SHIP IS THIS........Every day you are required (unless you pay a visit to the general info desk, stand in a line, and are made to feel guilty) to give a mandatory $14.50 tip per person, PER DAY. Well, if that was the extent of it, that would be okay, but it's NOT! In addition, 18% mandatory tip is added to any bar or drink or spa or food purchase you make for the entire cruise, EVEN IF THE SERVICE IS BAD, RUDE, SLOW OR DISMISSIVE.....BUT WAIT FOLKS, THERE'S MORE!!!! On top of everything I've just mentioned, every receipt you are required to sign has a form that has a line for you to leave an "ADDITIONAL TIP".....on top of the $14.50 AND the 18%. Well, at least that's it......WAIT, NO IT ISN'T!!! Finally, the cherry on top of this sundae of greed comes when envelopes are laid on your bed each of the last 3 mights of the cruise for you to stuff MORE MONEY IN and hand out to whoever you think is "deserving". This is guilt-tripping. This is manipulation. This is a timeshare presentation gone haywire. In fact, I want Royal Caribbean to know this little tidbit. There were 4 separate times on the cruise I decided NOT to get one of your $12.95 pina coladas simply because of the money-grab aspect.
In conclusion, I want to be clear that my wife and I had a blast with out friends and celebrated a joy-filled holiday. The ship is beautiful, there are stand-outs on your staff, the "pay extra" food was fantastic, and there was so much great stuff to do. However, Royal Carribean has soured my taste for cruising for years to come because of what can only be described by one simple word.......greed.
Raymond was great.....cabin was awesome