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Ryan

Age: 32

Occupation:Consultant

Number of Cruises: 5

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean

Ship: Majesty of the Seas

Sailing Date: 2011-01-31

Itinerary: Bahamas

My wife and I enjoyed a 4 day cruise, along with 14 other family members on RCCL’s “Majesty of The Seas.” We were celebrating Mom and Dad’s 40th wedding anniversary. Many of us have traveled on RCCL before and we all agreed that no one does cruising better than RCCL. We picked The Majesty for a variety of reasons. First of all it was the most economical choice for our large family. It also sailed to Nassau, Bahamas, which is where Mom and Dad honeymooned back in 1971. The final reason was that the sail date fit into all our busy schedules. When booking a family vacation you must consider your ROI. Although this was part of the RCCL’s original ship fleet, you will definitely get you’re your monies worth.

I was slightly disappointed with some aspects of the food service. Let me begin by saying that my disappointment had nothing to do with the wait staff. Infact, it may have been the best cruise wait staff I have ever experienced. My disappointment also had little to do with the quality of the food. Anytime you go to a place that serves 10,000 meals a day, you have to expect some minor setbacks in taste. I thought the food was quite good by cruise standards. My biggest disappointment was the cost of the food. You may say, "I thought the food is free on a cruise?" That’s what I thought too. In general it's free. Unless you specifically want a premium steak. They charge you $14.95 extra for that. Very tacky. My thought is that they should offer it for free or don't offer it at all. In addition, the ship boasts about 24 hours dining. In my experience with RCCL they usually do come through with that promise. On this particular ship, they did not deliver. There was no food service from 3pm - 6pm. That’s the time they do a lunch - dinner switchover. I will also state that after 10pm the buffet closes. That also means you can't get a non-alcoholic drink. One day at 3:30pm my sister-in-law tried to get into the Windjammer Buffet to get my 4-year-old niece an apple juice and they wouldn't let her in the room. After 10pm they do have a coffee / ice cream bar. They also have a Johnny Rockets on board. You are more than welcome to eat there but they also cost money. I find it to be very offensive that one should have to pay $4.95 just to walk into the Johnny Rockets to eat. The ship did have one night where they had a midnight buffet. If you've never been on a cruise before, you'd think it's the greatest thing in the world. This is my 5th cruise (my 2nd with RCCL) and I found this midnight before to be quite weak in terms of creativity, quality and excitement. To summarize, Dining Room Food = B+ Dining Room Service = A+ Quantity / Creativity / Availability = D

Small. I admit that it’s an unfair assessment because we had an outside cabin, which is slightly smaller then the balcony rooms. But I will also say that the rooms are just as similar in size as any decent cruise liner in America. I will say that it was one of the most comfortable beds I ever slept on. It also had had a nice LCD TV on the wall. Both of which were upgraded when the ship went through a renovation a few years ago. Let’s be honest though, you will spend very little time in your room. It was a place to shower and sleep. The Cabin steward was also accommodating. He helped my brother and sister-in-law get a full-size crib into a tight cabin room without removing any beds. I imagine the tiny rooms were hard for my siblings with kids but that’s why they booked an adjoining room to make more space. In other words, if you travel as a family it makes better sense to get an adjoining room instead of cramming into 1 cabin.

Let me just get this right out of the way, Our Cruise Director was the best Cruise Director I have ever had in my five cruises. No one even comes close. You may ask, what makes a good Cruise Director? I would judge by how well he/she engages their audience, their wittiness, originality and entertainment value. On almost every cruise I have been on, The Cruise Director has the same hacky / corny lines that come across as contrived and scripted. This Cruise Director, Dave Chapman, was both funny, relevant and compelling. Quite frankly, he may even be too talented for the job. My one minor complaint is that I felt an over abuse of the ships PA system. I understand its importance for muster drills and emergency announcements but to constantly remind passengers about Bingo and trivia contests seemed overdone since these things are posted in the "Daily Compass." (This is the daily publication left in staterooms detailing upcoming activities on the ship). As for daytime activities, I felt like Dave’s Activities crew did a great job considering there was more time in port then at sea. They had a funny "Mr. Hunk" contest on the pool deck. They also had a belly flop contest, towel-folding demonstrations, trivia contests, BINGO, etc. The ship had a great children’s program but my siblings opted not to enroll my nieces and nephews because it was such a short cruise and we wanted lots of family time. The ship also had a nice size casino. My brother and brother-in-law enjoyed playing in a Poker Tournament and my wife and I won a little money in Roulette. There were also diverse bars, bands and tons of shopping for overpriced junk. They have a really cool quiet bar called "The Viking Lounge." They also had an nice workout facility. I would also like to point out the rock wall, which my 6-year-old nice tried to scale with a smile.. The activities really shined at night. This ship did something a bit interesting. They had 4 nights to entertain but they had about 6 entertainment acts in the theater. They did this by creative scheduling. On most cruises, the entertainers do 2 performances (one for early seating guests and the other for late seating guests). For this cruise it was basically one show far all. The advantage was to jam in two different acts in a night. The downside was limited and obstructed seating due to seating capacity. The shows itself were just terrific. They had a comic do two shows. I thought his material was good enough for the cruise but not memorable enough to remember his name. The RCCL Singers and Dancers were also fabulous. One night the ship hosted a phenomenal juggler and one night, Dave hosted the "Love and Marriage" game show, which is similar to the Newlywed game. Every cruise has their own variation of this game but none as entertaining as Dave's version. I want to point out one glaring issue with the RCCL theater (Chorus Line Theater). In all honesty, I have been on different cruise liners with a similar issue so it may be unavoidable but the theater was very poorly constructed. By this I mean there are poles literally in many sightlines. Structurally, it looks like it holds up the balcony. Perhaps it’s the only way to add additional seating but it seems like this is can be avoided by a brilliant architectural mind.

SYM (Save Your Money) Every excursion offered by any ship (Not just RCCL) is overpriced by at least 15-20% of the book value. This is how cruises make additional revenue. Its big business. The best thing to do is to get off the ship and book through a local vendor. Trust me; there are plenty of them by the port. The only caution I will extend is if the excursion is a far trip from the port. For example, canopy and jeep tours often involve a 60-90 minute ride to the jungles of the port country. If by some chance you run into delays, traffic, etc, the ship will wait for you to get back before leaving the port but only if you book the trip through them. In other words, if you book this kind of trip on your own, you will not appear on the ships excursion manifest sheet and you will be left behind. To summarize, book activities that don't require long rides from private vendors after you get off the ship because you will save yourself some money.

Many people cruise for different reasons. For some it’s the chance to stop in various Caribbean islands, for others it’s the onboard entertainment, for some it’s the food and others it’s a combination. For this cruise only it was all about family. The chance to spend 4 nights with 16 family members was just what the doctor ordered. It bought us all a little bit closer and anticipating the next big family vacation.

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