We cruised with a very large group of people from our dance studio. (49 dancers aged 7-17 and their families totaling 189 people). The kids performed a 35 minute show in the Royal Theatre on the sea day.
Our cruise departed from Terminal A in Miami and the embarkation process went smoothly and quickly. It was less than 30 minutes from driving onto the ramp of the parking garage to getting our first drink at the Lime and Coconut.
Overall Impression: The ship, having just been through its major “amped” renovation, was gorgeous and in great condition. Over the course of the cruise, we spent time in Copper&Kettle, Playmakers (Michigan was playing for the College World Series Championship so several of us watched), Schooner Bar, R Bar, Boleros, Cosmopolitan Club, Star Lounge, and had occasion to utilize the bar in the Casino. All of them were immaculate and crew kept them clean with readily available service. We did not have to wait an unreasonable time at any bar while on the cruise. Note: the swim up bar on CoCoCay and the Lime and the Coconut had the longest waits, but they were not horrible.
Dining: Because we were with the large group, we ate dinner in the Main Dining Room every night at the early seating. Our family did not have any specialty dining. The food in the main dining room was good, what I would consider decent for a good restaurant. It wasn’t stellar, but what I would expect as better-than-average quality for a nice restaurant serving thousands of people per night. My 13-year-old daughter is an adventurous eater, and it was a great opportunity for her to try escargot (which she had every night) and other items like salmon tartare and beef carpaccio, Duck á l’orange, etc, that she wouldn’t try otherwise. The Dining Room itself is absolutely gorgeous. Our particular waiters were wonderful (Angel and Muhamad), with fabulous personalities and really made our experience. Reports from others in our group varied widely on this issue. Some had inattentive servers that didn’t refill drinks or offer coffee. We had no complaints at our table of 10. The Windjammer was fine for breakfasts and lunch. Again, it wasn’t anything special, but did have a very large variety of good food. We ate lunch at El Loco Fresh on the pool deck a couple of times and found it to be fresh, flavorful, and delicious. For late night snacks, the Cafe Promenade was adequate. Our group spent quite a bit of late night time at the tables on the promenade, so I had the occasion to see the ebb and flow of large crowds hankering for pizza after events, as well as the trickle of people at other times seeking out sandwiches. The sandwiches from there were very yummy, and there was a selection of salads, charcuterie, and desserts as well. Overall, it was a good late night option, although there were times when a single server was overwhelmed with the lines.
Shows: we made a point of seeing all of the main shows on the ship. ISkate, the skating show, was outstanding. If I could have made another showing, I would have watched it again. The first production of the Royal Singers and Dancers was a ballroom dance themed show, and it was excellent. I highly recommend. The comedian, Kivi, gave two shows; an all-ages set, and an adult set another night. They were both hysterical. The magician headliner, JZ, was terrible and a waste of time. I am so, so sorry I chose to se him rather than choose some of the game shows or other options in bars around the ship at that time. His “big trick” was nothing more than magnetic tangrams on a white board that any kindergarten teacher could manipulate. His show was a 30-minute infomercial to purchase his magic kits. Royal should be embarrassed. The second Royal Singer and Dancer Production was called “Showgirl” and although very good, I felt the first one was better.
Entertainment: There was no shortage of varied entertainment across the ship. The bands were great, both in the bars and along the Promenade. There was an acoustic guitar player and singer in the Cooper & Kettle that did singer/songwriter stuff that was particularly good. We spent a lot of time in the Schooner Bar in late evening with a piano/comedy improve performer that was a lot of fun. There was a cover band in Boleros the final night that played a varied set (“Heaven” followed by “Highway to Hell” that was spectacular! We participated in the two dance parties along the Promenade hosted by the entertainment crew; the 70’s Disco Party and the 80’s Party, and they were both a blast. The adult karaoke in the Cosmopolitan Club was disappointing. Although we sang “Bohemian a Rhapsody” and had a great time, the host was weak-not singing or encouraging at all, and the song selection was poor. As a result, we left after only spending about 40 minutes there. The X vs. Y Game and Crazy Quest in Studio B were quite possibly the most hilarious things I’ve ever done in my life! Do yourself a favor; have a cocktail or two, loosen up, and go participate!
Hugo was our Cruise Director and while I loved his energy and personality when we saw him, we didn’t see him very often. He introduced the main shows and hosted Crazy Quest, but that was his entire presence on the ship. I was disappointed and wanted more. Was it a bummer? Yes or yes?
CoCoCay: in short, The island is beautiful! We rented a cabana in the Oasis Lagoon area and I would do that again if prices are reasonable. The fan, the ice cooler with water, the towels, and the attendant made it worth the cost split 8 ways. The Oasis Lagoon is clean and the pool itself is a heavy-duty liner over sand, so it is comfy on the feet. There are plenty of benches and shade can be found, but the pool itself is very warm and not refreshing. We found the large splash pad to be the best spot to get some refreshing dousing of cool water. South Beach is very shallow out to the floating bar, and it is typical clear water and Sandy bottom. There are fish, sea ur hind, and more along the beaches; just be aware. Chickens, peacocks, and iguanas roam the island freely. There are also gulls which can be annoying near the buffet, but we didn’t really have any issues at all eating in our cabana. There is love entertainment in Captain Jacks. We did not pay extra to go to Thrill Waterpark, although others in our party did. I would intentionally choose a cruise itinerary with CoCoCay as a stop; it was a great day. (We did have a late afternoon storm roll in that cleared the water for 30 minutes, but rather than get caught in the crowd heading back to the ship, we chose to ride it out in the bar, listening to live acoustic guitar karaoke, and that was a great choice)
Overall, it was a fantastic cruise! The pool was fantastic, the kids enjoyed the slides. The gathering places on the deck above Lime and Coconut was a great place to congregate. I would highly recommend this ship and itinerary!
Our cabin was just fine. We had our Stateroom attendant split our king bed and bring down one Pullman for our teen. It was perfect. The room was clean, we had towel animals, and in general were very happy.
We spent two ore cruise days at the aha toon Inn and Suites Brickell. We went to Ocean Dr. and South Beach. It was great.
We walked through the straw market and bartered for some souvenirs. It was oppressively hot, so we chose not to spend a lot of time on shore and instead returned to the ship to hang out at the pool.
We didn’t have an excursion, but did rent a cabana.