The Grandeur of the Seas Vision Class is a nice attractive ship but tired. From Malaga May 1st the ship goes into Cadiz for a complete refit. They are to add more cabins. Where more people will sit I don't know.
Every inch of deck space is covered with plastic sunbeds. The fitness centre is well equipped but far too small, its always full. The restaurant --only one, is massive. Table service is good at 7/10. Food is mid market and very good. The Self service buffet also has a good selection of food daily. Food and service is not an issue.
Formal nights are a waste of time, for it's the same routine, nothing special. It's largely ignored with only about 5% dressed in Tuxedos/cocktail dress, Another 10% in jackets. Last night which was formal -- we dressed in dinner dress as usual for such occasions, and were sat next to a poorly dressed woman with her husband who dressed in a donkey jacket, jeans and t shirt, one of the worst granted, but smart dress is not how we would describe the pax complement.
Well what do we think of Royal Carib big ship cruising? Overall aimed at the lower middle class market. We took an owners cabin to cushion. Thank God, it's the best thing we did, we can dance in it. However in a major way it's the worst choice, for we didn't sleep the first 5 nights ! All passengers & cruise agents should be aware that the 5 most expensive suites are located directly below the cafeteria, which in part has tiled flooring --right above the suites, upon which they trundle heavily laden metal/hard plastic wheeled kitchen carts between dining areas and kitchen- ALL NIGHT LONG. Imagine living under a metal railway bridge where you can experience the thunderous rumble and trembling. You've seen it in films from New York. Well you've got the picture. This ship with all RCCL Vision class suffer the identical problem. Ships management report they've fended complaints from pax for 17 years without rectifying it! The simple expedient of fitting soft rubber wheels to the carts would remedy it in minutes.
Sleep was impossible, and as I pointed out sleep deprivation is an effective form of human torture. 5 days of staggering around in a semi comatose daze was enough. Letters of complaints were ignored. My eventual meeting with Mr Tony Curtis the hotel manager, during which it was unfortunately painfully necessary to overtly threaten him and management with personal exposure on the internet to get a result, eventually persuaded them that acceptance and acquiescence was the better part of valor. I had tried to arrange a meeting with him all us affected suite passengers who had complained. He said that wouldnt be allowed and he's have to call security as that would be considered incitement to riot. I cautioned him that at sea that was called Mutiny. Instantly embarrassed he apologised retracting his threat.
On night 7 peace finally reigned, and we slept throughout for the first time. Note they have no plans to insulate the floor nor address the noise issue. Careful assessment of deck plans are essential to avoid noisy cabins.
Ashore we bought many bunches of flowers needing large vases. It must be a unique event judging by the fuss the staff made. It took 2 days of asking, pleading and eventually a stand up argument with the hotel manager to get them. The result ? 4 small jam jars! Eventually we got the vases. From which you should judge the standard.
Ask for a map of an island, and the answer is indicative of the style. No frills airlines EasyJet and Ryanair & Southwestern come easily to mind. A map of 'recommended ' shops and tours they sell is the only one available. Island information -- same map. Haiti -- we'd decided not to get off for the place is disease riddled. But ha. This company transports its pax to the special paradise of Labadee. In effect an enclave cleverly commercially owned and exploited by Royal Caribbean, designed to give its special pax that special island experience. Visit the traditional authentic tourist market where you can buy junk from Haiti, and no doubt even Chinese made' Haitian' junk specially selected for their pax. Of course passengers can buy drinks, buy food. Buy a boat trip, buy another boat trip. Buy a ride to a beach (wonderful beaches). Buy a drink. Buy a paraglide ride. Buy a snorkel experience. Buy a jetski ride. We laid on deck and enjoyed the empty ship. Perfect.
Internet at almost $0.85 a minute! And so conveniently sloooooooow.
The crew are OK but a mixed bag where the Indians & some south Americans are the best. The advertised 'suite personal butler' .. a misnomer, they don't exist. Our cabin cleaner turned up staggering drunk one night, and in common with the standard of the ship, cleans superficially. We asked "Why are the windows and tables salt stained"? "Oh" was the response. Guest services tell us they should be cleaned twice a week, but that doesn't happen. We're used to having them cleaned daily or as necessary when we cruise.
Yep this is a different and much lower standard. And speaking of standards, our narrative should be moderated by the fact we have the top class of suite. And afforded VIP status through the recommendation of another captain of the fleet; who kindly sent us a special gift, delivered with a note from this ships hotel manager, so they were aware, but makes no difference. Their advertising promises exclusive seating areas and bar areas reserved for suite guests, they don't exist and asking for them is met with blank looks. No special menus. Room service never get the order correct. They promise gold, but have nothing but copper to offer.
The entertainment is very good, presented in an attractive theatre. Theres good live music in many areas most of the time. The cruise director is inconsequential. Overall the only similarity to our usual level and standard of cruising on small ships with Seabourne , Silver Seas or SeaDream, is they float, feed one and arrive safely and on time.
Finally les pieces de resistance my new wife on honeymoon, was bitten and found a bed bug. That was positively reacted to with the attention it merits. The bites were treated swiftly by the Dr. whilst they dismantled the cabin and treated it, they parceled us off on a free limo private tour for the day. Returning 6 hours later it hadn't been done! Bad management again, obliged us to stay out of the cabin for hours whilst it was completed. The suite needed to be treated twice more, and as they refused to move us to another cabin to sleep, (the ship isn't half full) we were obliged to breathe in the insecticide, which we are assured is safe and non toxic. Whatever the insecticide prospectus states, breathing any insecticide within a small compressed airspace for 12 hour periods must be unhealthy. It's to be hoped we don't suffer any long term consequences. Despite their disinfectant attempts, Louise has been bitten 4 times more. They said they'd deep cleaned the suite. In fact they didn't even vacuum the carpet. It took numerous meetings to make them clean properly. Bugs love dirt, which is probably why theyre infesting the place.
Worried that the bugs or at least eggs may be carried home, we asked for our clothing to be laundered. Expressing their deep concern, their response was immediate in removing and laundering and dry cleaning everything in hours, whilst re treating the suite.
The toilet overflowed, it took 4 hours with 2 reminders to appear and repair it, and another 5 hours with constant reminders to clear its contents from the bathroom floor. It overflowed its contents on the floor twice more. Similar delays to clean it. They repaired it, but it continually noisily flushed in the middle of the night . Another day whilst they fixed that problem, common on this ship. It's occurred almost daily since now.
The guest service managers profuse apologies for all our troubles, were bolstered by sending us, as he described "A lovely bottle of excellent champagne" to help you sleep through any noise remaining. Expecting Dom Perignon or Crystal, you won't be surprised to know we have a bottle of Californian sparkling wine instead -- unopened!
After many days of wrangling, the management have accepted and apologized profusely for the noise problems and by replanning, have for this cruise at least, mostly resolved the noise issue. We are only woken twice a night! They are really trying their best to make the rest of the cruise acceptable. A new cabin attendant with supervision has resolved the cleanliness issue. Its clearly a management issue which may be better on another ship. The noise however will be the same.
The staff are helpful but the management is overall poor, but theyre humble enough to eventually admit it, and have thanked us for indulging them in what they now a consider a re training process. They admit and openly discuss their failings which have now been addressed. Habitually they leave the heavy cleaning carts in the passageways 24/7 . this is a serious safety hazard for in the event of the ship lurching, a cart could roll into a person causing bodily injury. worse in the event of an evacuation, a cart would effectively block the passageway preventing free passage. The US Coastguard and ships insurers should be appraised of this. The Guest services manager said he hadnt noticed them . Eventually they moved the one in our passageway, but not others. Do we really need to feel like unpaid ships management consultants --badly needed-- whilst actually paying for our trip?
This year we will be travelling transatlantic east west again, and notwithstanding this bad experience will consider a large ship again, but taking great care to select the right cabin and cruiseline.
Disembarking in Malaga we felt tired, disgruntled and extremely dissatisfied.
Finally I discussed compensation with Mr Sam Murdoch, team leader customer services UK. He explained they were fully aware of the unacceptable experiences we'd suffered, which they were appraised of through the many communications between the ship and UK management. Apologising for the ruined cruise, he offered a maximum discount of 25% off a future cruise. Our honeymoon was ruined, for which a 100% refund would be the least expected, plus consideration for damages. He outrightly refused to consider anything more. I wonder what would provoke a refund. A ship sinking maybe?
Sadly we can only recall this trip as poor, sleepless, and a disturbed transatlantic ferry crossing. Never to be repeated with any Royal Caribbean Cruise, unless of course the CEO was in the next cabin.
hope this helps you choose a decent cruise.