This vessel is by far the most beautiful and best designed ship I have sailed on. Pictures and video clips that I have seen cannot show the views I experienced. I can also say that I have not yet found the words to describe this floating city. May I also add that I never felt overwhelmed by the size of the ship. It's layout was very easy to navigate and I was able to master my way around within the first day. Of course a new ship is not without some areas that the crew and staff are still trying to perfect. More about that later, as this is to be expected for a third sailing of a new ship.
EMBARKATION: RCI still needs to master this procedure. I talked to many passengers that waited up to three hours to board the ship. The VIP desk for Crown and Anchor diamond members however reduced this time to fifteen minutes.
CABINS: Well what does one expect? Yes, they are small. We had Cat. D9 superior ocean view with private balcony. Yes, the balcony was indeed private. Though the cabin was just slightly larger than a standard inside cabin, we had no trouble making it work. Just enough room for everything.
ROYAL PROMENADE: Measuring 1and1/2 football fields long this was the focal point of the ship. From snacks to shopping, scheduled entertainment, sports bar and upper casino. I have only one word for this area. Intoxicating, no not in the literal sense, I'll save the other for the Vault.
DINNING ROOMS: Three level dinning room, the Carmen/La Boheme/Magic Flute. Decorated beautifully with walnut finished furniture and woodwork. We experience excellent service here. I suppose this was why I decided not to switch to the 2nd seating I originally requested. Our waiter also was quick to point out the best choice for the evening as well as the dishes that have been experiencing difficulties. The entrees for the most part were very good, but soups were cold and the dinner did take up to much time for my attention span. I must also say that I don't care for the open breakfast and lunch seating. I would have preferred to be at my table with our waiter. This service was the only one provided at sea as well, as while in port.
OTHER DINNING: Windjammer and Island Grill. Excellent design, it was very easy to fill ones plate and find a comfortable place to sit. My first visit here was the last. I went for breakfast and found that the food was, "not edible" would be putting it nicely. This was also later confirmed by other passengers. Johnny Rockets. Long lines kept me from this restaurant. It is my understanding that they will begin charging for food here come the first of the year due to its popularity. Room service. Or lack thereof. They have a real problem here. It is being delivered to the wrong cabins. 24 hr. pizzeria? great pie but why do they close at 4 am.
MAIN THEATER: The La Scala. Very good production shows and special guest appearances. I was more impressed with the theaters on the Sovereign Class Ships.
CASINO: For those that like slots, this casino is jam packed with them. Gaming tables include caribbean poker, roulette, craps and blackjack. Lady luck didn't shine down on me here. However, a little casual play was in the budget. One other note, the ten dollar minimum at the blackjack tables is no cheap date. If you search hard you can find a fun dealer with a smile but many have left their personalities at the door.
STUDIO B, CENTER ICE: Located on deck 3, this area doubles as an ice skating rink and RCTV television studio. When not being used for some of the video productions still being taped for the cruise lines advertisements it hosts some spectacular professional ice shows. It also was used for some of the new passenger game shows that the cruise staff have come up with. The new games were both unique and exciting. This does appear a lot larger on television than in person. I estimate the skating area to be about 40'x60'. I still cant believe the excellent skating considering the size.
THE VAULT: This disco does deserve special recognition. This is only because it is thoroughly soundproofed. The entrance to this area is gained through a pair of doors with a neutral zone in-between. This is so that when the disco door opens, it closes before one enters the disco through the second door. Considering its close proximity to the Schooner Bar, it never did intrude on anyone else's enjoyment. I have to also mention that to open the doors, you placed the palm of your hand on a switch that resembled something from Star Trek. A little corny but fun.
OTHER LOUNGES: There are also many other public lounges to meet everyone's needs. From the piano bar to the jazz bar and from some more intimate lounges as well as those designed for people watching. I chose the later and met a lot of new friends that made the cruise that much more enjoyable. I met people from all around the world and well, just had fun!
POOL DECK: This would be the only area of the ship that seemed small. It was cluttered with the stage for the band that played pool side and when walking around one also got stuck in a bottle neck. The Solarium pool seemed like the place for the older crowd. It looked comfortable but wasn't this cruisers style. Also no dome on it for rainy days.
CRUISE STAFF: They have been very busy fine tuning everything. This being a 3 sea day cruise I felt that they did not provide enough activities, however they did try. I did have a drink one evening with our cruise director Jeff Martin. He did agree that their are many areas that need improvement and that his staff as well as all other departments are working hard to make the changes that are needed. I was also impressed that during the ice show the final night Jeff remembered me and addressed me by name. How they can do that with 3500 people on board I'll never know. Jeff's assistant Ricardo is full of excitement and one can tell he sincerely loves what he does. I wouldn't be surprised if he is promoted to cruise director in the near future.
BAR SERVERS: These are the guys and girls that seldom get the recognition they deserve. Well, people, they make the cruise an enjoyable experience. Over nine servers remembered me from cruises dating back well over 5 yrs. At many of the bars I could not buy a drink all week. I will not mention them as not to get anyone in jeopardy with their job but drinks were plentiful and free.
OTHER ACTIVITIES They included shore excursions, miniature golf, inline skating as well as a golf simulator. I did not use any of these but I am sure they were enjoyed by those who did.
IN SHORT: I enjoyed everything about this cruise. One does need to remember that the cruise lines are now offering so many things to do that one must understand that you can no longer do everything. You have to choose if you would rather be a part of the pool games or see the ice show. With this attitude you can rest assured you'll have fun.