EMBARKATION My wife, 2 1/2 year old son, and I drove up to Tampa the morning of the 3rd after spending 6 nights at grandma and grandpa’s house in Cape Coral. After dropping off the rental car and grabbing a Lyft we were to the port a tad after 10 am and were onboard by the pool by 1030. We left from terminal 6. I don’t think we ever had to wait in a line throughout the entire embarkation process. Extremely painless.
PORTS OF CALL
Grand Cayman - this was our third time here and did sting ray city/catamaran/snorkeling the first two times so we decided to check out Seven Mile Beach. After extensive research online (TripAdvisor/CC/etc) I happened upon Hemingway’s. This place was awesome! Their website says it doesn’t open until 11 but they allow you in by 8 I believe and start serving drinks by 10 and food by 11. Beach chairs with umbrella are “free” but require a $25 per person minimum spending at the bar/restaurant. The drinks were unique and well poured and the food... the food was AMAZING! My wife and son shared a chicken quesadilla that was well made (not just cheese and chicken but some peppers too) they both said it was good. I got the soft shell crab bao buns with kimchi. OMG were they good. Waitress was very attentive, beach was clean and not busy at all considering there were 4 ships in port, it was a 5 minute taxi ride from port, bathrooms were clean. It has a hot tub, two pools and a swim up bar. The taxi drivers were really pushing Royal Palms and almost had us talked into just going there but we decided to be “adventuress” and boy I’m glad we did. We will definitely be back.
Cozumel - been here a bunch and decided to stay on the ship and enjoy the less crowded pool areas.
This was our second time on the Brilliance and she’s gorgeous... we are really starting to love the radiance class of ships. So much glass and light in the centrum, not tiny but not huge either. It has a nice kid pool play area with a water slide. I wish they kept the water slide open longer than they did (sea days it was open 11-3 and port days I think it was 3-5). Chair hogs were in full force but we did see the pool attendants marking and 15 minutes later removing people’s towels/belongings so bravo RC for handling this appropriately.
We decided to do an interior cabin this time and honestly it wasn’t terrible. We almost always get a balcony room and this was our first time in and interior cabin with our son. He loved the Pullman bed! Was it tight quarters? Of course it was but as expected. Would a balcony room be better? Of course but we survived and honestly it was because the price for the interiors was unbeatable. I will look at getting a balcony first but then check the price difference to the interior cabin and decide from there. Monalisa our stateroom attendant was great with our son and took great care of our room.
The ship is beautiful. They were working on some part of the ship everyday we were on. They really do a great job with the upkeep of the ships considering the amount of time it spends at sea and the number of guests it takes care of. Bernadette in the Schooner Bar was THE BEST. She’s took great care of us. The top tier event was well done. Drinks a plenty but no hors d’oeurves but wasn’t a big deal to me. Windjammer food was good... nothing extraordinary but delicious and plentiful as usual. We were overcharged for some laundry service/pressing we had done but customer service took care of it with questions asked... they actually removed the whole charge from our bill which was not necessary but greatly appreciated. It’s the first time in we cruises that I’ve ever had a billing issue or had to deal with customer service but they handled it great. Last thing I noticed was that they never gave me a receipt to sign for drinks (we had the drink package) which I appreciated. They basically weren’t prodding for additional tips and it speeds up the process. No reason I should have to sign a receipt for $0.00.
Ugh i hate talking about cons because Royal overall does do a great job and is a great bargain if you shop around. But alas... there are some things my wife and I both noticed that were disappointing but we really hope it was just a fluke. First off was the lack of aerial show I’m the centrum. We always enjoy seeing it but it never occurred this cruise. Poolside drinks are served in ridiculously small plastic cups if you ask for any name brand liquor. My Bombay sapphire and tonic and my wife’s Grey Goose and cranberry were served in such small cups we both giggled when they handed them to us. We had the drink package so in a way it didn’t matter because we could get as much as we wanted but that meant spending more time at the bar waiting in line and more work for the bartenders and more waiting for everyone else too. Just fix me a good tall cocktail and I’ll be content but give me a Dixie cup and it’s flat out ridiculous. The biggest glaring change we saw was the food quality and menu options in the MDR. We go to the MDR every night for dinner. They said this was the first cruise where they were using a new menu layout where you ordered apps, entree, and dessert at once... no big deal but sometimes I might not want dessert after finishing my entree but i don’t know that until I’m done eating. Just take the dessert order at the end in my opinion. But the thing that bothered us the most was the lack of change Fromm day to day on the menu and the overall quality of food. We are by no means foodies and we have ALWAYS loved the MDR food but this whole cruise it was just off. Poor food options, lack of flavor, our sons grilled cheeese was toasted bread with cold cheese slice on it. We are really hoping and praying this is just a fluke. Come on RC you can do better! Both our waiter and assistant waiter seemed overworked/stretched too thin. They were not attentive at all to our “needs” aka taking our drink order, changing out courses, etc. I am 100% certain this is because they are stretched thin so this is not their fault directly but RC needs to a address this ASAP. Then on the last night before we left the dining room they were practically begging us to give them 10s on the survey... it wasn’t awkward.
We booked a 0900 flight so we’d needed to get off ASAP (what were we thinking). Self departure was scheduled for 0730 and we lined up at 0615 and were the second people in line. They began letting us off promptly at 0730 am due we were happily at our gate by 0815. All stars aligned Andy Wes had TSA pre check which pretty much was the sole reason we were able to make the flight since the security line was really long.
We had an amazing cruise as usual. It really is what you make of it. We will definitely sail royal again but we will be keeping our eye on some things like the food and entertainment stuff.
Any questions feel free to ask. CHEERS