Returned today from a 12 night Dubai to India cruise. Overall a very pleasant cruise due to the fabulous ports and combination of port and sea days.
Check In was efficient, extra paperwork for India was needed but lot's of helping hands around handing out forms and pens.
As on the previous cruise, which we learned later, around 70 passengers did not have a Visa for India and had no idea they needed one. RCL send out emails reminding people of UAE visas 3 days prior the cruise. Not only way too late but also incomplete, as no word about the needed Indian visa.
Ships staff however handled all passport and visa related issues extremely well and was generally super organized, the best I experienced in all of my cruises! Kudos! Everyone incl crew had to go through 2 face to face immigration procedures from the Indian authorities. Passports thus needed to be handed out prior each inspection ( they were earlier collected in Dubai at check in ), a lot of queuing and many arguments/comments from a few disgruntled passengers, but as mentioned before the execution of all this was handled extremely well by the RCL staff.
The ship is now about 12 years old and I must say it is in urgent need of a complete makeover. It looks quite worn in many areas and did not make the best impression. Hard to believe it still has to wait one more year before it's "face lift".
My cabin, a JS #1602, aft of the ship with a nice big balcony was in ok shape, the state of the balcony however quite shocking (as were the loungers on it). Rust everywhere, the floor worn, rusty and in urgent need of a whole new floor!! I can imagine, there will be a lot of complaints when the ship arrives at the Caribbean later this year.
Estrellita, my cabin attendant was lovely and took good care of me and the cabin. Most of the crew seemed happy and did a good job. Entertainment overall was good, whereas the nightly shows definitely lacked. Did not really enjoy one of them!
The food: Whereas windjammer was quite good, in service, hygiene as well as variety, this cannot be said about the dining room. I really don't know why RCL does not listen to all the complaints. The food is boring, repetitive and often of shockingly bad quality.
I cannot believe they sell any of their cookbooks, because there is not a single item on the menu, worth cooking after.
One very annoying thing almost every night is, that the description of the dishes on the menu very often do not match to what you find on your plate in the end.
RCL, don't offer carpaccio if you don't know what that is or how it should look like. Salmon carpaccio must not look like those thick layers of salmon at the lox station at windjammer for breakfast ! Who in Miami thought of "Coq au vin" should be served with bacon on top ? It not only looks terrible , it also tastes as bad as it looks. Just some examples. Overall a pretty boring and untasty dining experience, with the exception of the Indian dish, which is always lovely.
Another thing is the wine service. With the premium prices for a bottle one has to pay these days, one can expect a minimum of service for this. Stop putting even more work on the poor waiters. I learned they all have to queue up at a single sommelier in order to get the bottles they need. That is unbelievably bad service on the guests that pay so much money for their wines. Just because they don't see this internal process, doesnt'mean it is acceptable!
Portofino Wine Pairing Dinner was OK, but I would not do it again. Only 1 rather cheap white wine , followed by three red's. The second appetizer, fish, believe it or not, was accompanied by a red wine... That says a lot!
None of the wines was really good and justified the price paid. The dishes were OK, again not necessarily worth the amount I paid.
Speaking of high prices, the drink and wine prices are through the roof on this ship! Don't know why, but they were the highest I have experienced so far. Needless to say I drank less. Do the math RCL!
Chops was very good, as was seaview cafe with it's Italian pasta and panini dishes!
Food in the concierge lounge was the best I experienced so far! Well done.
The ports were Cochin ( beautiful ), New Mangalore ( no one could explain why on earth we had to stop there as there was not much to see and to do ), Goa which I personally was very disappointed from ( quite a long drive from the pier to pretty much everywhere and quite dirty ) and fabulous Mumbai. Luckily enough we were in Mumbai on a Saturday, so traffic was not bad which made it very easy to like the city which was surprisingly green. All RCL tours were very good, I heard of no complaints and would definitely recommend them in India. Last stop was Muscat which was a great contrast to the previous destinations.
The weather was good throughout, the seas calm. Everyone seemed to have a good time, despite the facts I mentioned above ( and which of course are very subjective ).
However I must say that I am losing more and more interest in RCL, because of the food which hasn't changed much over the past 10 years and which simply is not up to date. It is time for lighter and tastier food ( no, I do not mean "sugar/fat free" desserts!!! ), inspired by all the destinations RCL sails to. But in an authentic way.