In conclusion, you still get a lot of bang for your buck with Royal, but you can see where they are cutting corners to drive profits. Hey, they're a business and I get that. I just feel that they aren't doing it right. The constant hawking of upcharge dining and drink packages and spa services, plus the constant pimping of the "recommended" shops in port gets irksome. The internet works, kind of. There aren't nearly enough Freestyle machines for those who bought a soda package, and my biggest gripe is the sheer lack of class shown by our fellow passengers. It says on a lot of places about proper dining room attire and you'd see people walking in wearing booty shorts and tube tops. I'm not saying you need to dress for every meal, but at least throw on a pair of khakis and a shirt with a collar.
We took advantage of a Next Cruise deal and booked an Alaskan trip for next summer onboard Radiance of the Seas. I will probably take advantage of a specialty dining package, because that main dining room static menu isn't doing it for me.
5 out of 5
I was worried about the boarding experience in San Juan. I had read some reviews that said it was barely organized chaos. We had no issues getting on board. We were probably going up the ramps within 20 minutes of pier arrival.
Food and Dining
4 out of 5
I'm not a fan of the static menu in the MDR. Our last RCI cruise, the main dining was a memorable experience, with plenty of menu variety. Granted, that was 8 years ago. This time, not so much. By the time we got to the last night, I looked at the menu and just said, "Meh." Wound up ordering a filet from Chops that was excellent. We opted for the full Chops upsell one night and were not disappointed. The beef carpaccio melted in your mouth, the steak was cooked perfectly and the service was attentive.
The only other dining upsell that we tried was Johnny Rockets. As good a burger as on land. It was funny seeing our headwaiter from the main dining room working at Johnny Rocket's, though.
Sorrento's is not great pizza. It's not the worst I've ever had, and if you got it fresh, it was actually pretty good. They had a decent bruschetta as well. Again, nothing like you'd find in Italian fine dining, but we were a long way from Italy.
Windjammer is what it is. It can get pretty crowded, but if you're there on an off time or right when they open, you can snag a decent table. Oddly enough, the hot dogs on the lunch buffet were quite good.
3 out of 5
We played mini golf. Course is small (9 holes) but it fits in a small piece of deck and while there are not a lot of obstacles, it was a fun little diversion.
I also took the all-access ship tour, which was fascinating. The views from the bridge are incredible and you really can get an idea of the size of the ship when you're in its bowels. We had a great guide, who was knowledgable and if she didn't know the answer to a question, she knew where to get it.
4 out of 5
We enjoyed one of the comedians... his family and adult shows were pretty funny. The musical onboard was a little jarring. The vocalists and instrumentalists were excellent, but the visuals made me think of a Brady Bunch special on acid.
Service and Staff
4 out of 5
Our stateroom attendant was very good, but I hear she took ill at some point. There was another attendant who was like a ghost... we never saw him/her, but the room was spotless.
4 out of 5
Ship is large, but not so hard you can't find your way around. I think she's due for a refit, though, to bring some of the amenities up to the level of Oasis or Quantum-class ships. The Royal Promenade is a great place to people-watch and shop.
My biggest beef is with the elevators. They don't seem to actually work in any logical manner. There are also peak times when it's crazy to try and use one. I would have preferred more (or bigger) elevator options.
Ship was pretty clean, but I miss the older layouts that were more about the passengers than making sure every conceivable product could be hawked.
Cabin / Stateroom
4 out of 5
Nice, midship cabin. Pretty spacious for two travelers, but the shower is crazy small. I would love to see them adopt a split bathroom like Disney has, where one part has the power and the other has the toilet and sink. Makes getting ready for dinner that much faster
We did a private catamaran trip using the Cool Cat and it was amazing. Captain Wayne took us out too a more remote area of the island where we could snorkel and sunbathe and just relax. Also, very tasty lunch. Only downside was that the shuttle van had a blowout on the return to the pier and we had to walk the last half mile. Worth it, though, as the carnival parade was going on and got to see some great steel drum bands and a lot of civic pride.
My wife got a bad sunburn on St. Lucia and was not feeling up to it. I got off the ship and wandered the pier area for around an hour. Port was not picturesque, as I could sit on my balcony and watch shipping containers get banged around.
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