We enjoyed our ten days on our Southern Caribbean cruise. This was our first Royal Caribbean cruise together, second for Stu and first for me. Many folks have asked us to compare it to our Carnival cruises and I will do a roundup at the end of this post.
We had five ports and had been to all the islands but one on a previous Carnival cruise. I stuck to my guns and WROTE. Stu did two dives and ventured out a bit at the other ports. Not many photos, more of the ship and ship views than land photos. You can see them all in our SmugMug album.
We were thirty minutes out when we had to do an about face and return to the terminal in Ft Lauderdale for a medical emergency. During the cruise we had two more emergencies at ports. Guess we're all getting older. Sad....
We wandered the ship on the first day, marveling at the pretty decor and the amount of public space. We never felt crowded. There were two theaters, one for movies and comedians/performers and one for the production shows (I could be wrong but that's what I remember...lol). Several bars, open at various hours, an unusual shop layout (with pretty much the same merchandise as Carnival), and a nice adult solarium pool area.
The atrium (named the Centrum)
On the way to the Schooner Bar
The solarium (and bar) - adults only area
The shopping area
Sunset at sea
Basseterre, St. Kitts
House band on 50's-60's night in the atrium (there are several more short videos in the album)
Local street drummer
Fun local transportation
St. Johns, Antigua
Lots of boats, this was one interesting one
Definite party boat, they were dancing away!
A beautiful sunset from our balcony
Philipsburg, St Maarten
Better color, taken outside (not through a window)
Our favorite musician was a Scotsman, Kevin Philip.
In full regalia
Yup, we added another musician friend to our Facebook list (and yes, he's also young enough to be a grandson).
We did both formal dinners.
I actually saw the sunrise in Fort Lauderdale...eeek!
Our overall impression of RCCL was, nice but not for us. Please remember, this was ONE CRUISE on ONE SHIP that we are comparing to over TEN CRUISES on SEVEN SHIPS.
We enjoyed ourselves but felt it was a bit too sedate. We loved the decor, very different from Carnival's more gaudy look. We liked the large public areas meaning we never felt crowded but that comes from taking away from other areas. The hallways for the cabins are narrow and our cabin was definitely smaller. Yes, that means the bathroom was smaller. The counter space was horrible. Smaller drawers, less storage place. Still had a safe and a mini-fridge (empty). The bed was fair, and for me, the pillows were horrible. Flat and hard. But I have to say the A/C was superior!
Things got very quiet after 10pm other than one or two bars and the casino. No late night comedians or shows. The timing was very different for us. Gone were the fresh burgers and hot dogs in the afternoon, replaced with buffet steam table burgers and dogs. Just not the same. Ice cream was only available when the Windjammer buffet was open. And yes, there were times it was closed. Doors closed and locked closed. And don't get me started on the chocolate chip cookies. If we were comparing just that one thing, it'd be Carnival - hands down (freshly baked, still warm cookies as compared to dry, tasteless, worse than store bought cookies).
The staff treated us very well, several even interested in my writing. I did most of my writing in the Windjammer buffet. Spending a lot of time there, I was shocked at the amount of loud talking between staff members. But even worse was listening to someone be dressed down, loudly, in front of guests. This happened more than once.
We also felt the cleanliness wasn't as good as Carnival. We rarely saw anyone out cleaning, the Windjammer floor was nasty - food under tables all day long was just one thing. The last two days I couldn't sit on one side near the beverage counter because the smell of rotting garbage was terrible.
Oh, when in the lido buffet area, you don't serve yourself your own drinks. Not coffee, not water, not lemonade, not tea...that was different. They did have a non-smoking night in the casino but we noticed very few people smoking the entire cruise. They also gave us each $5 to gamble with - neither of us took advantage of that. We also loved that the photographers weren't hounding you to take your picture.
Would we cruise them again? Maybe - if it were a great deal and a destination we wanted. For now, we'll stick with Carnival and enjoy the rowdy crowds and cheerful noise!
Ciao for now!