We'd sailed Princess and Norwegian before, but this was our first Royal cruise.
The food and service was better on Princess (I still dream of how the most simple dishes like fettucine alfredo were somehow mind-blowing!), but Royal's main dining room food was decent enough we'd sail with them again. The Windjammers Buffet was especially ample and fresh -- and we are not typically "Buffet people." (With kids, you make concessions!) The service was a little slow in the main dining areas for breakfast and lunch, though the wait staff was very friendly, professional, and accommodating at all times. Waits were not very long, but if you plan on making reservations while on board, you can run into a few snags -- you'll never get through to customer service by phone, many reservations are all booked up, and the app system does not always work if you need to make/break a reservations. Dining highlights included the mushroom soup, hashbrowns, baklava, mussels, and lobster tail night. I'd read negative reviews of Sorrento's pizza, but we ate there soooo many times. We're from Buffalo, land of amazing pizza, and it was good enough for us. Compared to other cruise lines, the specialty dining is a bit nickel-and-dimey. The drink package was well worth it, though I didn't use it for the "specialty coffee" as much as I thought I would, since the coffee lines were super long and apparently, a caramel macchiato is conveniently considered "food." The ability to use the dining/drink package on Coco Cay was incredible and generous -- what a perk! Other cruise lines would be wise to follow suit.
We loved our room! It was a great size for two adults and two young children. The bathroom was HUGE -- double sinks, soaking tub, and separate shower! (This matters if you're traveling with kids who like their baths as much as the ship's pool.) The decor was stylish and we enjoyed mornings and evenings out on the balcony. It's always a thrill to awaken at a new port, rush to the balcony, and inhale that fresh sea air. The location of the room provided easy access to upper deck pool areas, theatres, and the mid-ship concourse area. Elevators were just around the corner, and our neighbors didn't feel too nearby.
Coco Cay, on the other hand, was a well-managed, first-rate experience. The perfect day we had from start to finish made up for all the hassle of traveling with two young children. We didn't pay for any of the excursions, instead "winging it" with the free attractions. Music performances greet you off the boat and there are signs and staff members there to direct you wherever you want to go. We walked everywhere easily, but there are trams if you want a ride as well. The kids played on the pirate ship right off the dock and the neighboring water playground for about a half hour. Then we headed to Chill Island to spend the day in sand and surf. Everyone was nice, pointing us to an open umbrella chair. We saw so many crabs, iguanas, and fish swimming near the rocks -- it was cool! The buffet was streamlined for efficiency with no waits. You could choose burgers, hot dogs, chicken, salads, or tacos. It was all fresh and stocked. We found a table with ease and watched the local chickens run around. We didn't eat at Captain Jack's, but we heard the wings and fries were really good. The bar lines were short and the mixed drinks were very tasty even if you're not a mixed drink sort of person.
It was a little tricky driving to the port, but not too bad. We like its close proximity to upstate NY. There was a lot of traffic! The lines moved very slow inside the port as well, even if you did the "express" checkout.