We chose this cruise due to date "spring break" and location. It was my son, 13yo and me traveling alone. We wanted something close to home and a chose a cruise since we wanted to stick to a pre-set budget so we pre-paid all our gratuities, excursions etc. We had a few ship sailing options from Miami and Ft Lauderdale in the end we chose this ship because the itinerary was more interesting for my son and it was right on budget.
We had no issues with arrival/departure or baggage delivery as we were local and had carry-on bags. We checked-in later in the day somewhere around 3pm so our cabin was also ready upon arrival.
After unpacking and ensuring everything was ok in the cabin we headed out to the PROMENADE CAFE where we had an afternoon snack daily. They had a nice variety of food choices daily. The wait times here varied based on time of day, but was fast moving and fortunately we never had an issue finding seats (time of day we went, I guess). The only critical feedback is that the bussing was slow and there was no area for one to self bus thus giving an unkempt look and presenting issues with seating.
COFEE BAR - Adjacent to Promenade Cafe - wait times can vary, busier during morning hours. Service was good and coffee was good. I recommend buying the Coffee Pass which allows you up to 15 premium selections throughout the sailings (note; Fraps count as 1).
MAIN DINING ROOM - This is my pet peeve. We booked this cruise in advance, as I stated just my son and I traveling, we confirmed MAIN Dining 8pm and Table of 6 - we wanted to meet and socialize with other cruisers. First evening on our way to dining room we come to find out that we now have MY TIME DINING When did this change? Why weren't we told? Everything, all of my documents, which I had with me, even at time of online check-in when I verified dining again we showed dining noted as Main Dining 8pm Table of 6. So here we are 1st night, having to make a tedious long line for dinner, we are finally seated near 9pm and in a Table for 2 - this is all they can give us they said. The waiter Brian, not great, mediocre. The assistant waiter, Charmaine, was graciously charming and all smiles, happy to serve, she made up for what Brian lacked. After our first nights dinner we spoke to the Maitre'D to discuss our dining mishap, he was not able or willing to honor my confirmed dining preferences, all he could do was book us reservations for 8:15pm the remaining of the week for the same TABLE OF 2. Next day, I went to guest services to see about getting this changed, and again they said there was nothing they could do. So please be ware, and when you check-in at the Pier immediately review your SEA PASS for dining accuracy, unfortunately, I failed to do that, lesson learned! To make matters worse, Charmaine, unfortunately, was sick most of the week so we were left with back-up assistant waiters and the boring Brian who it seemed was always rushing about, we were fortunate to get her back on our last night. We made the best of dining, and friended our neighboring tables of 2, together we had an informal table of 6, ha! It is however funny and sad, that each evenings conversation included a discussion of the "service" mood for the evening. The first parties would warn the others of what to expect. All of us also felt rushed at dining. As the evenings went on, I connected the dots and associated this "rushed" sensation to the MY TIME DINING, of course it makes sense, you have tables coming in (of all sizes) at all times, the wait staff is going crazy and unfortunately not able to give their full attention equally to all, or is it that the quiet, bashful table of 2's get lost amongst the bigger and louder parties? That said, I don't recommend My Time Dining to anyone, instead, on the nights you need flexibility visit the WINDJAMMER CAFE, here we found the service and the food options EXCEPTIONAL, even at peak morning hours. Oh before I forget, food quality in the Main Dining room was as expected it was good with great variety from night-to-night.
Overall it was fine. Few things I would like to mention. The running deck is on the main pool deck, if you are a runner you need to come out here early when not crowded or go and use deck 4. Seriously why do cruise lines always do that? Place the running deck on the most crowded deck and often times windier deck too.
The gym was very good. I used it daily. The equipment was in good condition and gym goers wiped after themselves and re-racked weights. I didn't partake in classes, but I did use the treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, free weights and some machines.
I didn't visit the casino or bars or shops, so cannot speak to them.
Pool/Towels - In my opinion they should have more than 1 towel station, it is located on the main pool deck in a very crowded area. If you are lounging in the upper decks you need to go down 2-decks to get/return towel. Another station, even if only part of day, would I think benefit cruisers.
FREE Recreation on board was fun, there was putt-putt, ping-pong, sports deck, rock climbing & slides. With regards to the sports deck and ping-pong, there are lots of hoarders that will take the ball and keep it for a very long time, we only got to use the basketball 10-minutes before the teenagers ran us off the court to play a double court game. For ping pong we often had to wait 30+ minutes to get a table as the unsupervised kids would just keep playing and other kids would keep joining. I think that RCCL can do much better, maybe require guests to check-out the SPORTS equipment and provide a sign-up sheet this way EVERYONE has a chance. I can tell you when my family had the ping-pong table we would play one-game and then share with any other family waiting. We would play one game, they would play one game, then winners would play each other. I didn't see enough of that, very disappointing.
The slides were fun, I would go later in the day when the wait time had dropped off.
We did not partake in rock climbing, when I remembered it was there, it was too late they were closing up and it was last day of sailing.
We did not partake in surfing as that involved an additional fee and well we live in Florida and travel to Southern California yearly.
TEEN PROGRAM - I was looking forward to this, but was disappointed. My son is shy, he is an only child, quick to make friends with Adults but with other kids he needs a little more time, so the couple of times I did get him to the Optix lounge there was no one there. It seems that most of the teen activities are un-supervised, there was a calendar of events but not too much explanation of what the events were, so when we went around to inquire no one could help us. The other teens seemed to be traveling with large families and groups so they had the advantage, I really recommend that cruise lines maybe offer SINGLE FAMILIES or FAMILIES in general a couple of social meet/greet nights, they do this for target markets which included the older teens 18-21, Adult Single Cruises, LGBTG and others.
TRIVIAS and misc activities were fun but some hosts were better than others. Seriously if you have a Harry Potter Trivia make sure the person running the show has seen the movies and knows how to pronounce the questions.
We booked the lowest inside cabin available at the time and I was very happy with our cabin and our service. We were assigned a cabin on deck 6 overlooking the promenade. Our cabin attendant was friendly and brought us ice daily. We unfortunately only received a cabin towel animal on the last night :-(
We pre-booked our excursions, they were as to be expected. The tour providers were all great and kept to schedule. The only feedback here was the towel service. You have to get your towel before leaving and it wasn't clearly communicated how/where. Additionally it was different every day, wouldn't it be simplest to have teams dispatching towels in the same place every day? The last stop was the best organized where they handed out the towels right on the pier after getting off the ship.
ON BOARD COMMUNICATION AND APP- I downloaded the app, have used similar on other cruise lines, I thought this would enable me to communicate with my son during the cruise, it does not!!! There was no way for him to download it too unless he had an e-mail account and additionally there wasn't a feature to communicate with your cabin mates and/or other friends on board. People, you don't have WIFI on board, how else can you communicate with your family and children? Yes you can purchase wifi- but why, we wanted to, and needed to disconnect. I saw other families using walkie-talkie type of devices, wish I would have known, now you know. Also the app didn't show any of the TEEN or KID CLUB options, so again, very hard to know what was going on in those areas. The app also defaulted to "recommended" every time I had to go and select to "see all" you can also filter by type of activity (e.g. Dining, Entertainment).
ENTERTAINMENT - mediocre. Not impressed, the only hi-light was a comedian on board and a comedian/musician.
My cabin was a standard inside cabin overlooking the promenade.
It met our needs. It was clean, the bed was comfy, the bathroom was in perfect working order, there was sufficient storage for the 2 of us. Our cabin steward was very friendly and attentive, made sure to keep our ice bucket full as we requested on the 1st day.