First let me begin by saying that we did enjoy our cruise (how could you not enjoy them). We did, however, run into some issues that are worth mentioning.
I read several places that doing the online forms doesn't help, but in our case it got us on the ship an hour earlier. We got to the terminal around 11 am and the RCI people had us lined up and waiting to board in the terminal. There were RCI people checking paperwork etc. when they asked if you had done the online embarkation they moved you to the front of the line. Embarkation went very smooth and we were in our cabin by 12:30 pm.(that was of course after stopping for a drink). Muster drill took all of 15 minutes...a much more pleasurable experience from the 30-45 minutes at Carnival.
Not top notch, but what do you expect for a ship that is mass producing food for 2000 plus. Definately not what you get in a made to order restaurant, but if you are expecting that you don't belong on a cruise. They had lots of good food (escargot were great) but I was a little disappointed that there was no lobster. I had only cruised with Carnival previously and they serve lobster on every cruise regardless of the length of the cruise. The desserts were ok, not too fresh (especially in the Windjammer). The hot dogs and pizza on the deck 12 bar were great.
We were scheduled for late seating dinner and they would schedule the shows for late seating diners before dinner. I really didn't care for that. The whole idea of late seating is so that you don't have to rush to get ready etc. and we still ended up rushing to get to the shows. We didn't go to the movie theater at all. They had really inconvenient scheduling and they tend to show the kids movies (Harry Potter) in the evening when you would want to go. The "grown up" movies were all during the day cutting into the pool time or port time. The shows that we saw "Fast Forward", the Not so Newlywed game show" were good. They had a juggling comedian, but I just couldn't get into it. They also had a singer that won the Grand Champion on Star Search (forgot his name...Kenny ???) and he was really great. I think Carnival does a much better job with entertainment and scheduling events.
SMALL! We had a Catagory H on A deck (deck 3). We had an ocean view that had a port hole the size of your head. The pics are very misleading. Previously with Carnival we had robes in the room and a basket of trial size products in the bathroom...with RCI...NOTHING. I was shocked. Not that this is a big deal, but it is a nice touch. My first shower overflowed into the rest of the bathroom. Housekeeping was quick to respond and got it fixed in the first try. However when the repairman was testing the drain he took the showerhead and stuck it down the drain to get the force of the water and when he pulled it out it had all the "muck" that was in the drain all over the showerhead...just what you want for the next person to shower...No major drama, but could have been cleaned up for us. The bed was comfortable and had no trouble sleeping. The air conditioner was only pumping semi cool air. We called about this too, but they said there was nothing they could do. I did go to the pursers desk the first nPorts.
We did the conch train tour which was good and informative but was a little long. The town was in the mist of Fantasy Fest but didn't notice any unusually rowdy crowds. There were a few women getting their chests spraypainted...whatever!
Some of our friends did the Tulum tour and liked it alot. They were glad they brought their swimsuits as no where does it tell you that swimming is an option. We went to a beach that is free. They have watersports, a pool, bar, restaurant and plenty of taxis waiting to take you back. This was the highlight of our trip. It was such a nice place and not crowded.
We were one of the last tags called. We were off the ship and had our luggage by 10:30am. Very easy just alot of waiting. They do let you wait just about anywhere on the ship except the lobby.
The ship itself is in need of some refurbishing. Halfway into the cruise we found that they were actually doing the refurbishing while we sailed. We found this out because our friends cabin was blocked with furniture that they were reupolstering from the deck above (Hammering at the crack of dawn and furniture in the hallways) There are alot of carpets that need replacing.
The pool area is so crowded that you are elbow to elbow with everyone. My experience on Carnival is they have 3 pools and they are all on different decks which spreads out the 2000 plus passengers on the ship. There was lots of chair saving going on and it really couldn't be avoided. The water in the pool was never emptied at night and by the end of the 4 day cruise it was cloudy...and no filtering made for some interesting finds in the pool...I'll leave it at that. My husband went to the mens room on deck 11 by the pool and after about 20 minutes he finally returned. He said he had been locked in the men's room and had to bang on the door for someone on the outside to let him out. He had a bruise on his arm from banging so hard. He alerted a RCI employee of the situation and actually showed him how the lock was malfunctioning. The following day we went back to see if it had been repaired and it was the same way. The following night (day 3 of the cruise) it had been roped off so no one could use it. I can only say that I am disappointed by the impression I was given of RCI. I considered them a step above Carnival until I experienced it myself.
I would cruise with RCI again only if it was the best price and the ships were newer. It is obvious to me that RCI is not committed to keeping their ships in the condition that you expect. I will say that their dining room staff was exceptional. Our waiter (Carl) couldn't do enough to please us. Our cabin steward (Spence) was great too. Very quiet but always friendly and kept our cabin full of new towels and the bed made promptly. Overall we made the best of all the situations with the exception of the mens room incident of which everyone had a lax attitude about it. If you should need any further info I'd be happy to answer your email.