We found boarding the ship at Southampton speedy and efficient. This only took 15 mins and was helped by plenty of very friendly staff who gave clear directions.
Having never sailed with Royal Caribbean before, we felt that the ship itself certainly has the 'wow' factor. The public areas were bright, gleaming and well designed. Our cabin was on Deck 7 and had a balcony, which was large enough for 2 chairs and a small table. The cabin was airy and spacious compared to other cruise lines we have sailed with. The beds were large and very comfortable, there was plenty of wardrobe space, storage for luggage and the cabin was well sound proved. The bathroom was perfectly adequate and the shower was powerful.Our cabin steward was exceptional and nothing was too much trouble for her. We ordered room service several times and I would definitely recommend it, although it did have a slightly limited menu.
The food in the main restaurants were excellent, as were the waiting staff. Each evening there was a varied choice and the waiters were happy to make amendments, or bring extra gravy, etc. We ate in Portofino's, one of the speciality restaurants, which was outstanding and one of the nicest meals we have ever had. We ate lunch occasionally in the Windjammer, buffet style restaurant; the standard of food was always very good. The downside was that it was always very busy and difficult to get a table at peak times.
The theatre was large and we always managed to find a seat. The shows were very entertaining, catering for all different tastes. Our favourite was the Ice Show which was spectacular and a definite 'must see'.
There were plenty of things to do and this ship is perfect for families, especially those with teenagers. The Flow rider, Climbing wall, and the things to do on the outside decks are perfect for good weather, but for our itinerary and more importantly the time of year we did not use them. The ship would work better in the summer months, and was maybe not the right choice for a winter cruise from Southampton. We had 3 days at sea (missing out on Madeira) due to bad weather. The pools had to be drained as the Capt confirmed we had waves over 50ft high.
We only took one excursion - from Vigo. We thought the price to be comparable to other cruise lines. We enjoyed the trip, although it was not well organised. We were late leaving the ship as the meeting point was incorrect on the ticket and then we had to go back to the ship as we had left 6 people behind.
The only minus points were the price of the drinks, which were expensive and the lack of seating in the bar/public areas. We were second seating for dinner and afterwards found it very difficult to find a seat in any of the bars. This appeared to be confirmed by other guest.
Overall we had a very enjoyable holiday and I would definitely recommend this ship. The customer service was fantastic and all the staff were professional, friendly and very keen for us to 'join the Royal Caribean Family'.
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