Too many passengers or too small ship?
The ship is not big enough for a ship full of passsengers. We had to fight to get a table for both breakfast and lunch. The lunch was often so crowded that they had to close the entrance. You must plan you day carefully if you want to eat decently and to get a sunbed. The ship rules said that it was not allowed to reserve sunbeds for more that 30 minutes. Towels and belongings would be removed by the staff that without any other notice. We didn't observe that the staff did this so a lot of people constantly were strolling around to find beds. This initiated a lot of arguing and unpleasant discussions between guests. In the afternoon the towel stations was empty. Because polite people didn't want the staff to confiscate the towels after 30 minutes when eating lunch for example, they changed towels twice a day. A lot of guest was really frustrated and angry.
Tipping, Spanish tax and extra service charge:
The staff seems to be more interested in selling extra service, than give you value for money. You are asked to pay $18.90 for tip per person each day. Every paid service is charged with additional 15% service charge and 7% Spanish tax. A ship registered in Panama pay 7% tax to Spain, while serving people in Italy and France. Is it legal? Every bill had also a request to tip even more for excellent service. At the end of the cruise we were also requested gently to give tip to our waiters and cabin attendants. The staff also asked us gently to evaluate them with top characters if we didn't have anything to complain about.
We have never experienced anything like this on any other cruise lines we have travelled with.
We delivered our luggage 2pm and was on board 3pm. Our Junior Suite was ready, but no one welcomed us on board or helped us to find our cabin. All other cruise lines we have travelled with are giving this minimum service. The cabin was clean and plain with no welcome announcements. On our last cruise with Junior suite we was treated with fast-line check in, Fresh flowers, fruits and a bottle of champagne. 4pm I asked the cabin attendants for my luggage. I was told that the luggage would be handled by the staff after the rescue exercise. One hour after the drill our luggage was still missing and our attendant couldn't help us. At 8 pm i went to the guest relation disk and asked for my luggage. They told me that it could have been confiscated by security (my fault) and that the attendant had given me wrong message. They asked me to go down to security to get my luggage. But it wasn't there so then they had to find someone else to blame. About 8.30pm my luggage was in my cabin. The fist dining was already finished and one cruise day was spoiled for us. They gave me a 200$ reduction on my bill, but forget to inform me about it so I discovered it my self.
We wanted to see Rome and used a shuttle-bus to the train station. It was 34C in Rome and the train back didn't have any air-con. Trying to get on the shuttle-bus was a chaos. 2 other cruise ships was also in the harbour of Civitavecchia. Several hundred people was waiting for the shuttle bus to RCL, but for one RCL bus the two their ships had two buses. Old people was falling in the streets fighting to get on-board - others were fighting with there wrists. It was a humiliating experience. We waited for 30 minutes and was glad we at last was on a bus. But at ship we was queued up once more and had to wait in sticking hot sun almost 45 minutes to get on-board. The scandal was complete. All the guest I spoke with during this hot 45 minutes was really angry.Public areas
We have been on MSC, NCL, Carnival and Celebrety cruises, but none of them allow smokers to smoke everywhere on the ship. In all the pubs, cafes, casino and all over the sundeck people were smoking.
The noise level around the pool was so heavy with disco dancing, shows and games that it was impossible to just relax there. But You couldn't find any other quiet place on the ship so we had to live with it.
The advertisement said that the ship was equipped with Internet and WiFi and Internet could be used all places. But the the cabins wasn't equipped with Internet or WiFi and you had to use 4 different rooms placed around the ship. Every other ships I have followed, even a 3 star hotel has WiFi in there rooms. I had to do business on-board which was very difficult.
The largest population of guests on-board was Spanish, but together with nearly 300 Norwegians and a majority of guests where English speaking people. We were astonished that most of the information and entertainment was in Spanish and bad spoken English.
We thought Royal Caribian Cruise Line was a 5 star cruise. Compared with our experience for example with Carnival Cruises in November 2011 this was a 7 day long nightmare.