My husband and I first cruised on Celebrity then took our family on two Norwegian cruises. This was our first Royal Caribbean experience. Let me start out and say that a vacation is mostly what you make from it. We always thought that ... Read More
My husband and I first cruised on Celebrity then took our family on two Norwegian cruises. This was our first Royal Caribbean experience. Let me start out and say that a vacation is mostly what you make from it. We always thought that Royal Caribbean would be a step above Norwegian from the reviews we read and friends we spoke with that had been on Royal Caribbean cruises. Maybe we set our expectations too high.
When we arrived, everyone was helpful and courteous – from the porters, to the security and at check-in - was VERY fast!!! We walked on to the ship and wanted to eat right away since we really didn’t eat all day. Very disappointing - not many options on the first day. On Norwegian, we had the option to sit down at the main dining room and have a nice lunch to avoid the craziness of the buffet. On the Anthem, we were directed to the buffet which, as we expected, was a nightmare! So many people. No plates. Food picked over. We gave up and left to try to find something else. Tried The Café at 270. Were not impressed. But excited for dinner later, we ventured back to our room. Our room was available when we first arrived on the ship at 1pm and by 2:30, our luggage had arrived.
On-board Activities: Here is when it went all downhill. NOT happy about the inconvenient policies of Royal Caribbean. NOT happy that my husband or I had to interrupt our relaxing time to "supervise" our 9 and 12 year old. Waivers were signed, but we had to wake up early "supervise" roller skating, rock climbing, flo-rider, bumper cars, trapeze or any of the activities that we signed waivers. We could not sit by the pool because our 9 year old wanted to rock climb. On other cruise lines such as Norwegian, they could enjoy activities without us constantly supervising them. My husband and I did not enjoy our cruising experience because of this!!! Having to watch your kid rock climb is absolutely ridiculous. This is our biggest deterrent from sailing on Royal again. On Norwegian, our second youngest could be left to rock climb and enjoy other activities all afternoon.
Our older kids are 12, 14 and 15. I was excited that the 12 year old could participate in the teen program. What I did not realize is that they break the teens up in groups 12yr-14yr and 15-17yr. They could not hang out together in the teen club. They weren’t too disappointed because they said there were not really any organized activities or things to do. SO they had to leave the teen area and hang out elsewhere to stay together. I like how Norwegian’s teen program is 13-17. The 12 year old birthday was in 2 weeks and he could have been in their teen program if we sailed after his birthday, not separated from his cousin and sister.
The nursery was amazing for our youngest (21 months). We did not put her in that often because Grandma sailed with us, but when we needed to, it was clean and inviting. They even had a room to take the baby to play without having to leave her with someone.
Internet: We purchased 2 unlimited internet packages to share among the 8 of us. They give you the login and password in your room. This was fast and enabled us all to stay connected in some way. While I prefer to not use my phone, I need to check my messages for work and make phone calls etc.
Bars: All of the bartenders were quick and made amazing drinks for us!
Main Dining Room: After a couple nights eating at American Icon Grill, we decided to try something new and went to Silk. There, we were so happy with our server and table that we kept coming back to the same table every night. Our main dining experience was amazing because of our waiter, Marcelino and Assistant Waiter, Michael (table 605). Not only did they go out of their way to make our dinner enjoyable, but they surpassed our expectations on service. If you asked for something, they would give you that and more! They made our vacation enjoyable! Could not have been happier!
Windjammer Café: Not the best place to go the first day on the ship because everyone is there. They need to have more options to dine on the first day. We liked the Omelet Station at breakfast. They needed to have fruit loops available for kids though which is a pretty common breakfast staple. We did not eat there on other meals except for breakfast.
Jaime’s Italian: THE BEST!!! Service and food were phenomenal.
Johnny Rockets: Worth paying a few dollars to have a good burger in the afternoon. Wish this was included in the price and not extra though.
Bermuda: We got off and took the ferry to Hamilton where we shopped and enjoyed the town there. We had to catch the ferry back by 1:40 since that was the last one offered that day. When we got on the boat, we did the NorthStar which was perfect to do in Bermuda!!! We could see so much of the island. Happy we decided to do this then and not while at sea!
St. Maartin: Lots of shopping off the boat. We did a private boat charter here at this port and walked there. The island is devastated by the recent hurricanes. We did Billy Bones Boatcharters where we had a half day boat charter. Our family of 8 has ages ranged of 21 months, 9, 12, 14,15 year old kids! They had a blast! It was a bit of a walk for all of us from the port but wasn't too bad! It was maybe a 15-20 minute walk. We arrived and signed our waivers and were on our way. Captain Al was beyond amazing and did a great job driving the boat and talking about St. Maartin. We were concerned about the conditions due to the wind and the water being choppy and the comfort level. The captain took his time and made sure everyone was in the most comfortable seats. We first went to a place to do some snorkeling, but with my mother in law on the boat with the baby, I suggested we go to a beach somewhere. There, he took us to the most gorgeous beach with the most incredible sand and views. Captain Al kept the beer, rum punch and soda coming along with chips to snack on. Our 12 year old son wanted to fish as well - they were so accommodating that they purchased a rod for him to use!!! Extra kudos to them for going out of their way!! He caught two fish, a jack and a mackerel, as we trolled back to the dock. This was the best experience!!! We highly recommend to anyone visiting St. Maartin.
Puerto Rico: Not our most favorite port. We did an excursion booked thru Costco. It was informative, and we were able to see the city via a bus tour. After our tour, we stopped at Mojito’s for lunch. The food was perfect and delicious – a quick walk back to the ship too!
Labadee, Haiti: What a surprise – this was our favorite port!!! We did a day bed, so the baby and grandma would have a place to relax. It included 2 mats for the water and also liters of Evian water. Adrenaline Beach was a perfect location too for our day bed! Our attendant brought us beer and frozen Labradoozie’s which were so yummy! Even the kids could get virgin ones! We wish we would have known how wonderful this port was ahead of time - we would have left the ship right away. My husband and I did the Aqua Park with the big kids which was SO fun! The buffet food was so good too – I am not a fan of buffet’s, but the burgers and sides were so great! The worst part of the day was when it ended, and we had to get back on the ship.
Entertainment: The cruise director was nonexistent to say the least. In previous cruises, the cruise director set the mood of the ship. We wish there was a sail away party, a themed party, or something eventful. I did not even know who he was until one of the last days on the boat. Wish the nightlife was livelier too.
Dis-embarking the last day: This was smooth. We were number 25 and were called by 9:45am. The Gangway would jam up but quickly cleared. Our bags were very easy to find as well.
To Summarize, if Royal Caribbean had a better policy for the kids not being supervised during certain activities, and the teen program been better, we would be more likely to book on Royal Caribbean again. While this may seem minor, we were not able to enjoy our cruise like we did on Norwegian. Read Less