We travelled with my folks who have been on over 20 cruises, across a wide range of cruise lines. This was the third cruise for my husband and I, both prior ones were with Royal Caribbean and they were FANTASTIC...real 5 star experiences. ... Read More
We travelled with my folks who have been on over 20 cruises, across a wide range of cruise lines. This was the third cruise for my husband and I, both prior ones were with Royal Caribbean and they were FANTASTIC...real 5 star experiences. Those were on smaller ships, Seranade and Brilliance of the Seas to Alaska and the Mediterranean respectively. We wanted to try a larger ship and visit Canada so this seemed like a great choice. This ship has some exceptional attributes, but unfortunately it also had some real disappointments. Since different folks prioritize differently this may be an absolutely wonderful ship for you, but for us, we won't choose it again. Here are the Pros/Cons:
Cabin- HUGE amount of storage. My folks said it's the best cabin they have had in regards to storage and they have even been in suites. Absolutely no complaints. Love that they took out the coffee table which made it much easier to move in the room. Lots of hooks, two closets, giant overhead space over the bed. Really terrific. Also the cabin steward was exceptional.
Ports of Call- We loved all the ports and plan to return to Saint John with our teen boys for a longer road trip. We used a private tour in Bar Harbor (At Your Service Taxi- Driver was Kelly) and she was amazing. Also used private driver in Saint John, but looking back, may have been better off renting a car and doing more on our own as we really enjoy just rock climbing and exploring nature...
Sports Area- FANTASTIC for on board activities. Loved the bumper cars,iFly, Northstar, all the contests (ping pong, dodgeball, basketball) and roller skating. I was stunned to have the entire rink to myself the first time I went to check out the roller skating rink. This area is much bigger than expected and the staff was all fun and great. The iFly was amazing and I highly recommend it for just about all ages. We had some folks who appeared to be well into their 70's and they did it too. If you want to try it...go for it! :)
SHOWS- We either LOVED their shows or we honestly hated them and would have walked out if we were on an end seat. Yeah, it was that bad. (For reference- my hubby and I are in our 50's, I like a wide range of music, my folks are in their mid 80's) The ones we really enjoyed were: the comedian, the hypnotist, an acapella group and We Will Rock You production. My husband couldn't go to the We Will Rock You show so my dad took his place. Dad is not a a rocker at all, had no idea who Queen was, but he loved the show. Highly recommend! Unfortunately, we hated The Gift and Spectra's Caberet. The Gift had some very cool special effects, but all four of us were lost for the first half of the story. It was really frustrating, had no idea what it was trying to say or what the point was. Spectra's Caberet also had some cool techno effects, but the music was all original (I think) and none of us could connect. They had to end it early due to rougher waters and as I looked around, no one seemed particularly disappointed by that news. Feel bad for the performers, they tried hard and were clearly talented but the "script" itself was just not working.
Now the CONS
Overall Ship Design- This is a MASSIVE ship, but I was shocked to find myself feeling quite cramped in the main areas. There isn't a big open atrium like on the other ships we've seen and the main shopping area was particularly cramped as they kept it stuffed with sales tables whenever we were at sea. On the other ships I felt like I was in a 5 star resort that I wouldn't splurge for on land, but in this ship I felt it was just a mid-level hotel. It just didn't have any "Wow" factor. :( The Dining areas were SUPER cramped...more on that.
DINING- This is where the ship really failed us and the primary reason we will not return. For perspective, at home we eat at pretty casual/cheap places like Panera, Five Guys, local sandwich shops. We don't spend a lot on pricey restaurants regularly. When we were on the first two RC ships we felt it was a 5 star restaurant . We loved getting to know the waitstaff, they truly seemed like good friends during the trip and going to the main dining room was special every night. This time, it was totally different. Food was very plain, with almost no spice, minimal sauce (as in a tablespoon or two at a time), and the choices were much lower end. I used to have trouble choosing from all the great options, and my kids and husband often ordered two different dishes. This trip, my husband and I had trouble finding a single dish that looked appealing. (No shrimp or filet, unless you paid extra.) The steak was flavorless and tough, after eating a 1/3, I gave up. The Caesar salad was actually fantastic, but they only gave me about 1/2 of a cup! The final night we all returned to the main dining room (Silk) because usually that's a special night where you get better food. Not the case here. I ordered a fried fish dish, that looked like a very tasty fish and chips type dinner. Turns out it wasn't crispy at all, in fact I couldn't cut it...had to tear the "crust" off because it must have gotten soggy. My mom had the same trouble. Then I noticed the table next door, where all 4 diners had ordered this dish, had also left it on their plates. So, guess their's wasn't good either. There was never an offer of fresh pepper or parmesan cheese as on other cruises.
The waitstaff was running around like crazy...it was very stressful feeling. They seemed totally overwhelmed. Forget getting to know anyone. After 3 nights, we gave up and switched to the Windjammer. Windjammer was actually quite good, much better than main dining room offerings.
Also the dining rooms were overcrowded. I felt uncomfortable several nights because our table was literally just a few inches from two others...I felt like I had to watch my conversation because it was as if I was seated with 10 other folks. Just very different than the nice big round tables we had before.
Also, it took a full hour for us to get most of our main dishes. At first we thought it was just first night adjustments, but this continued to be the case every night. Just took way too long. And, we had reservations, but there was usually a line each night as well, for about 10-20 minutes. Not sure if that's just a "big ship" thing though, and I could let that pass.
There were other issues, but bottom line is that I consider the cost of our ticket to have a good portion allocated to food and on this cruise we didn't get our money's worth, at all. It was very disappointing. I will give RC another chance as we like to earn the loyalty points/rewards and we love the sports activities, but if the food has dropped to this level overall, we will be switching cruise lines.
One exception- we dined one night at Wonderland and that was FANTASTIC! I thought it was going to be tiny portions of some pretty odd flavors, but there was just one item we didn't care for and the portions ended up being way more than we could eat. It was a very special night. Would dine here again! Read Less