The idea of an inaugural cruise was very appealing as we had been on the Ovation of the Seas and loved it, so we were very much looking forward to this new class of ship, and we were not disappointed. We did a 30 day back to back, following the Suez Canal Cruise we stayed on for the Spice Route Cruise.
We knew this ship was especially designed for the Chinese market, so some aspects, such as the very small gym, we accepted because of that. We found the decor and design of the ship to be beautiful, particularly the Asian Art aspects.
There were very few initial problems, but these were soon rectified with lots of workmen on board to attend to them. Overall though everything went very smoothly, and we received many gifts from RCL to celebrate the inaugural season.
Rooms: We changed our staterooms for the second leg, they were both balcony rooms and very comfortable and well designed with plenty of storage, probably the best ever balcony rooms we've had in over 25 cruises.
Entertainment: there were lots of good quality headliner shows, but a lack of production shows. We realised later that they were doing lots of rehearsals with the new theatre etc. and in the second leg we saw the best show ever on a cruise ship - in the 270 performance space the Silk Roads show was absolutely amazing, and worth the wait.
Dining: we had My Time dining, and found the main dining room food to be of a good quality, and the service excellent. However, over such a long cruise we found the menu to be repetitive, and preferred the choices in Windjammer, where there was a huge choice every day and excellent Asian food in particular.
Silver Lounge: As Diamond plus cruisers we were able to access this lovely space for Breakfast and Lunch, as well as complimentary drinks and appetisers in the evening. We enjoyed this new space very much.
Service: we could not fault the service on this ship, in every way crew were polite and helpful, even with the complex itinerary in relation to immigration requirements. Our changeover and change of room as consecutive cruisers was also fine, although some people lined up hours before the stated time and then complained about the wait! Embarkation and Disembarkation was also smooth and quick.
So overall we were very pleased and excited to be a part of the initial sailings of this fine new addition to the Royal Caribbean fleet.
Both this balcony cabin and 9646 which we moved to were fine. They had different layouts in respect of the beds being either close to the door or the balcony but they were both good. The bathroom was large and well designed with a spacious shower, there was plenty of storage and we found the decor to be very pleasant. There was no coffee table, but we decided this was a good thing as they often get in the way!
We took the new Express Train from Civitavecchia to St. Peter's Station in Rome (45 minutes). This new service is especially for Cruise Passengers but does not seem to be known yet, we thoroughly recommend it. We bought return tickets at the Station, at a separate window and chose our return journey time then. We had plenty of time to do our own walking tour of Rome, having been there before we knew what we wanted to see, and we came back with plenty of time to spare and no worries about cancellations or service changes. This is the way to go to Rome.
We were easily able to walk off the ship; the roadworks don't seem to have moved on for 3 years, but you can work your way through them! We walked to see the Archeological Museum which contains most of the small items from Pompeii, and then discovered a great regional food festival where we could find good food and wine for a picnic lunch in the square for a very small price. Love the craziness of Napoli, and enjoyed walking back to the ship through the crowded back streets.
We love Athens and have stayed there before. We took a local bus from near the Port Gate to the Metro- locals are friendly and tell you where to get off. Then into the centre, getting off at Thissio it is easy to take the pedestrianised walk along the side of the Parthenon- looking up at that you cannot but marvel at this ancient city. Further walking through the Plaka district is charming, and a picnic lunch sitting on a ruin was fun. A final glass of Greek wine in a trendy wine bar completed our day before hopping back on the metro at Monastiraki for the return journey back to the Port.
As we had already been to Petra (a must see) we decided on Wadi Rum this time. The tour also included sight of Aqaba- not many! then the drive to Wadi Rum and a Jordanian lunch. It was ok, and the scenery was stunning but overall we were underwhelmed. Our guide was not so good.View All 14 Wadi Rum Walking Tour Reviews
As we were overnighting in Dubai and were consecutive cruisers we had a very long day tour to Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE. It was really good, we paid for a great buffet lunch, and we saw all the highlights, the most impressive being the immense Mosque. This was a fantastic thing to do.View All undefined undefined Reviews
We were excited to be in a new country - it was the next port after Dubai, and we just did our own walking tour along the corniche to the interesting Souk. It was incredibly hot, it took a long time to get off the ship because there were limited shuttles, and most people couldn't wait to get back to air con. It was not such a great Port really, but hopefully they will improve access for ship passengers in the future, there did seem to be some improvements happening! Maybe!
We went by bus to visit 2 markets, the Crawford market (fruit and veg.) and the so-called Thieves market, where stolen goods used to end up in the days of the East India Company. The guide was good and informative, but I wouldn't recommend this tour unless you had already done a comprehensive tour of Mumbai before.View All undefined undefined Reviews