We just returned from the first revenue cruise for this new ship. We sailed as part of a large group, which means our dinners and many of our on-board activities were planned for us. If this hadn't been the case, I think our ... Read More
We just returned from the first revenue cruise for this new ship. We sailed as part of a large group, which means our dinners and many of our on-board activities were planned for us. If this hadn't been the case, I think our experience would have been even worse than it was.
First, the ship is EXTREMELY noisy. I don't mean the crowd or the music, but rather the ship itself. The plumbing is so powerful that you hear every flush in every nearby cabin. There is a constant rattling or banging coming from the lower levels of the ship that makes it sound like the ship hit something, particularly during rougher days at sea (the ship does seem to rock more than other ships I have sailed in the past).
Second, although billed as a "Smart Ship" the technology doesn't work. The highly-touted "Royal IQ" app that supposedly allows you to track your schedule on your iPhone, make show and dinner reservations and communicate with others in your party simply didn't operate. The "my calendar" feature never loaded, attempts to book shows were met with "errors" and when I tried to "chat" with my husband, it came up with "invalid extension" (even though the extension was automatically listed as my cabin-mate). This frustrated everyone - guests and staff - and made everything that much more difficult.
The RoboBar is fun to watch for about 5 minutes, but the drinks were not very good, and the robots often spilled them. $12 for a small bad drink is tough. It is not open all the time, but when it is it is not very crowded and there is no real wait time.
The internet is spotty and the top package costs $500. You are supposed to have the highest speeds ever - not worth it.
Third, there are no central dining rooms with rotating menus. Rather there are several "restaurants" with menus that are constant throughout the cruise. Only four of these are complimentary, however. And if you don't have a reservation, you have to stand in line. The other several restaurants all have up-charges. One of the complimentary restaurants is formal, but all of the restaurants are inconsistent. The lobster tail at Grand was very good the first time we ate there, but very tough the next. Silk (with an Asian style) is by far the best of the complimentary restaurants (and better than Chops and Jamie's Italian - the only charge restaurants we tried) both in terms of food quality and service. For breakfast, try Devinly - there is an upcharge for dinner, but their breakfast is complimentary, and is healthier and not nearly as crowded as the Windjammer buffet).
Fourth, the ship experience had no energy. There are no sail-away parties. There seemed to be little to do during the day.
Other problems: pictures are expensive ($20 for a print and $15 for them to put one on a CD); the casino is so smoky you can't even walk through it and the pool smoking section is next to the kiddie pool. The solarium (adult only section) is covered and, while nice, smells so bad of chlorine it hurt my throat. There are no reading lights on the balcony.
On the positive side: The shows are excellent. Mamma Mia really rivals the broadway version (and is just as long). The Sonic Odyssey was excellent - but we could have done without the dancers during the show. The technology in StarWater is breathtaking. We also very much enjoyed the comedian and one of the entertainers. We couldn't see the other two because dinner at the restaurants was so slow we couldn't get there in time. The Beatles tribute band was excellent. 70s night was fun the first time, old the second.
Overall, I was very disappointed in this trip. It was our first time on Royal Caribbean - all of the people I met promised that this ship was not indicative of the entire line, but all were equally disappointed. (While we waited to get off the ship, a person sitting behind me commented that she had fun, but the ship "sucked." Sums it up pretty well.