The brochures and Royal website almost make it sound like boarding and check in is a LONG and DREADFUL ordeal but to be honest, if you pre-print your boarding passes and have all your needed documentation, it's a snap. AND, right from the folks who issue your Sail Card, to the welcome photographer, to the staff greeting you on the gangway....you automatically forget your stressful job, your personal problems or whatever drama that surrounds your own life and just instantly feel like you've entered paradise.
The ship is clean...and my fiance' and I LOVED the fact that there was manditory hand sanitizer in many common areas. While big and almost intimidating, it's easy to find your way and there's always a staff member near by to help if you still get lost.
This was our first vacation together EVER after nearly three years together and her first time on a cruise. I got her the trip for Christmas and presented it in front of her family by popping in a DVD I custom made for her. (You can view the short video present here: http://www.livevideo.com/video/3D70456FDC184A2DB21076218D88AB92/merry-christmas-dani.aspx)
We got the Classic Romance Package which was a little dissapointing because it doesn't come to you as presented on the site or brochures. Pre-adverts suggest all of these romantic trinkets are just waiting for you when you come back to your room when in fact you have to submit your "voucher" each time you want to have a romantic element added from your package. Still nice, but detracts a little from the sexy surprises you imagine when ordering the package.
But all in all, she LOVED all of it and it was a week we both needed after almost 1000 days together spent in the career grinds and stresses of life's strain.
Highly recommend it.
Food and Dining
3 out of 5
Ate dinner in the dining room nightly. Portions are perfect and while they say it's not allowed, if you're extra hungry, your waitor will sneak ya a second plate. I remember my previous Royal Cruise having a spread that was a little more tasty but nothing was average or not good.
The casual eateries are great with a good variety and the midnight buffets are awesome.
Room service gives very SMALL portions. French toast for example is two VERY small pieces, less then French Toast sticks at McDonalds. Delicious but even my honey would've needed to order TWO orders to feel like she got a good breakfast.
3 out of 5
Good quantity of things. Didn't seem to have as entertaining things as the last Royal trip and I think it showed with a lot of people not attending in great masses a lot of the events. We were a little surprised at the early sleepers as by midnight, most nights, it was a ghost town and we were in "vacation mode" and looking to have some late nights.
The cruise director is sincere, very nice and enjoyable on a one on one basis. But aside from being a Red Sox fan (big bonus for us), he lacked an energy and enthusiasm that I've seen in all the previous cruise directors and I think that rubs off on the passengers and their energy or excitement level.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
I've sailed 3x before. Twice on Carnival, Once on Royal. I'll never do Carnival again because of the kids factor and will definitely be a frequent Royal customer. This was the first time I've travelled with a balcony suite. Let me just tell you, the extra $400 or $500 bucks is WELL worth it and I'll NEVER go back to a regular state room again. There's something about Bon Voyaging privately with your own champagne in your boxer shorts and privacy. Waking up to a gorgeous sunrise without having to dress and go see it on deck or kissing your honey all alone during a gorgeous sunset.
The rooms are much bigger and comfortable and you don't feel like you have to leave it to go get some R&R. In fact, I'd take the same exact cruise again but this time spend MOST of the time in the room now that I've already done the excursions. Make it a TRULY rest and relax weekend.
Dolphin Adventure was worth the money even though you leave thinking that without US regulation, they're probably slightly abusing these poor things. The same Dolphins working all day, pulling, pushing slightly obese Americans around...gettin' scratched with rings and jewelry. Sorry...we're animal lovers.
BUT...the guides for all the excursions were very nice, helpful and looked out for everyone so that they weren't "taken" by the locals.
Shopping was pretty good and with the US Dollar over 10-1 on Pesos, the locals were very appreciative for any purchases.
We didn't like the welcome (or lack of welcome) from the locals. They seemed annoyed we were there, "oh here's the jerky tourists" and unless you're locked into a ship sponsored excursion, plan on getting taken by local cabbies and shifty vendors.
In fact, walking off the pier into town without a ship sponsored guide is risky and not recommended. We missed our excursion because we slept too late but made the day "okay" by spending most of it on the highly interactive ferry docks that featured good restaurants, tropical bars and good music.
Pros: A truly appreciative staff that bends over backwords for our every need....also....minimal KIDS. I'm sure your kids are great....thank you for leaving them home or sending them to Carnival.
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