I was really surprised at how easy embarkation was, after having stood in long lines with other cruise lines, this was really easy if you had done the electronic "pre-check in". Great idea RCCL, keep it up.
The cruise itself was good, but as it was a relocation cruise, there were a lot of sea days. I have done such a cruise before (with a different cruise line), so I knew that it was very different from the type of cruise where you stopped every day, or almost every day.
BUT the activities did get a little repetitive. There is only so much trivia/card games/dancing you can do. A little more variety would have been great. Even something as simple as more movies available on the big screen, not necessarily just for kids either.
The lines for the dodgem cars were very long, but it was fun anyway. I didn't brave the roller skating, not being confident enough to do it on a moving ship!
The food was great, although the Windjammer did get a bit repetitive. Perhaps varying the food by having theme days (ie:, Italian, Mexican etc...) instead of having the same two or three things on rotation all the time would have been good. I can't praise the executive chef highly enough though, having a coeliac hubby can often mean sitting opposite a grumpy face as there isn't enough variety, but the Coeliac One was usually satisfied. The main dining rooms were of course lovely, although we didn't try any of the specialty restaurants.
The shopping on board was just as expected, same old same old kept getting trotted out, and after seeing the same things "for sale" for about the fourth time, I was constantly surprised at how many people were showing interest, although that may have been due to the boredom some people were feeling after the fifth sea day in a row.
My cabin (10316) was excellent and kept clean (how I would love a stateroom attendant at home).
The internet was expensive and often slow, so don't buy it unless you really need it.
Some of the shows were a bit "meh" but some were great. As an Australian, I really enjoyed the INXS tribute, the band was very energetic and got the room pumping. Lucky things got to stay on the ship for the next cruise too, so even more people would have had a great time!
Now, here comes my BIG gripe. Disembarkation was a disaster.
Every other line I have been on (including a previous experience with RCCL) you are given a questionnaire with a choice of times you would like to leave, and preference is given to people who have to catch planes after getting off the ship. Not this time, oh no.
We were TOLD when we would be getting off the ship, unless we wanted to walk off when the ship docked. So that's what we decided to do.
Unfortunately, so did about 3,000 other people, luggage included. Deck 5 was a nightmare, people and bags everywhere. Had there been an emergency at that time, it would have been disastrous. To RCCL, YES I know there was a delay getting clearance, but that only made the problem worse, there wouldn't have been a problem with better management. There was no facility for people catching flights to be getting priority. When we finally got off, we found ourselves on the train platform (obviously there weren't enough cabs in Sydney to cope with the instant demand) with people who were just catching the train home. Getting off then, or a few minutes later, would not have mattered to them, but to us, it meant missing our flight. We were not the only ones, Mascot airport was inundated with frantic people that day. Friends of ours couldn't get another flight until after 8pm. Of course, these flight changes cost money, and when RCCL was asked for assistance as they had caused the problem, nothing was forthcoming, not even the offer of a stateroom credit on a forthcoming cruise.
Well, as much as I enjoyed my holiday, I did not enjoy the stress afterwards, so for me, it will not be a Royal Caribbean ship next time. Hubby and I are already looking forward to our next cruise, but RCCL have put us off their brand by their mismanagement and misinformation.
If you live near the port and don't have any time pressures to get home, give them a go. If you don't, I wouldn't risk it, even though it is a fun ship.
Lots of storage space