We've cruised 20+ times, maybe 8 times with RCL. We chose this big ship because of the Caribbean ports on the itinerary, because we found a 'deal' on the price and because we wanted to check out this giant marvel of a ship with every sort of bell and whistle: bumper cars, rock climbing wall, iFly [skydiving tube], NorthStar [elevated look out] etc.
The ship is beautiful. The ports, particularly St Kitts, were lovely: we highly recommend the St Kitts Catamaran Sail and Snorkel with the crew of the Eagle, a sail and power catamaran with a hull built locally. We booked this thru the ship, prior to boarding. Smaller boat, without the over the top party boat atmosphere and hundreds of people: only about 25 of us were on board, the guys were safe, fun, friendly and professional.
Our cabin attendant [Patrick, deck 11] was very good, friendly and professional and was able to get new batteries for the tv remote when it stopped working. Also our waiters, Katut and Ikatut were lovely young guys, very good waiters and just really nice people. Our Head Waiter was gracious and made every possible effort to ensure I was able to eat safely despite my food allergies. Thank you, guys.
Back to the issues with the ship. The ship is full of technology but much of it doesn't work. It felt like a brand new ship still working out the kinks, but it has been sailing for four years now, so it should not feel like that. Sure, there is a cool Robot Bar, no wait staff just two robot arms that make your drink. Except, the robot arm places a cup on the table, it falls over, the robot arm cannot tell that so it pours the drink into the cup anyway...which then drips all over the counter and the floor. We saw this happen several times. The person who bought the drink that is now all over the floor, had to go find a human to make them the drink they had paid for. There are cool interactive ship maps on every deck. In an 11 night cruise, we never saw one that was actually working.
We wanted to swap our tix for one of the evening shows. Shore Excursion staff said we couldn't do that because it was sold out. They didn't check with anyone, they just said that. And besides, she said, we can't do that, you have to ask at Guest Services. So we did. They swapped our tickets, we went to the show time we wanted and of course, the show was not sold out and there were lots of empty seats.
This to me is clearly a training issue. The staff are overworked and under trained and their first answer to every question is 'no' hoping you will go away.
We bought alcohol ashore, knowing it would be confiscated upon our arrival back to the ship and given back to us when we disembarked. We know how this usually works and are ok with that. However, on the last day, we asked four staff in different departments before finding someone [the wonderful Patrick our cabin steward] who could tell us our booze would be delivered to our stateroom after dinner that night [and it was]. This is what we expected, but the fact that four staff did not know/did not have an answer for us, was disappointing and odd.
The three shows you have to book before hand - they are ok, but nothing memorable. Spectra's Cabaret is weird and the music is awful. The whole show is designed to show off the technology in the "270 Lounge".
The BEST performances of the cruise were the young man, part of the troupe of onboard singers and dancers, who delighted us all with his tribute to Frank Sinatra. He played to a full house; people were sitting on planters just to be in the room. This was a little known show one afternoon of a sea day near the end of the voyage. You have a star there, you should respect him more and make more of that show. The other highlight was 'Joyce and Friends" which was, I think, the brainchild of the staff themselves, a group of the young talented singers and dancers onboard who sang for us in the Schooners Bar one night. There were dancers who don't necessarily sing for a living, but who are really terrific and so enthusiastic and supportive of each other. Again, the cruise director has gold in some of these young people, but all he talks about is the technology in the 270 lounge. People are always more interesting than techie toys.
The food was ok, but not memorable. [Although I very much appreciate the care and attention from the Head Waiter and from Katut and Ikatut our waiters to keeping me safe with my food allergy].
There is just something off, about this ship. Maybe it's the senior management, maybe staff are overworked and exhausted on such a big ship. I don't know, but the overall customer service was lacking.
I think they need to look after the details, and get back to basics. Tech will only impress if it works, and people appreciate good customer service.
The virtual balcony was actually really fun. Worked reliably and was new and innovative.