My first cruising experience was a 10 night Australia and Barrier Reef cruise in an Owner's Suite on Rhapsody of the Seas in 2010 and I was so impressed I wanted to do another cruise. I was planning to organise a cruise on one of RC's mega ships and thought I would have to travel to Florida. I became very excited when in May 2011 I received an e mail from RC advising Voyager of the Seas was coming to Australia in 2012. On offer was a Christmas/New Year cruise to NZ. My husband and I decided that would also be a great way to celebrate my 60th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary. I contacted RC direct and booked for 28 family and friends. My husband and I took the Royal Suite. We also booked for the rest of our group a grand suite, 5 junior suites, a disabled room all on deck 10 and a balcony room and 2 adjoining inside cabins overlooking the promenade on deck 7. I dealt directly with RC. All deposits were paid in July 2011 and balances were paid in September 2012. In October 2012 one of the bookings was changed from a quad room to 2 inside adjoining rooms and as the adjoining rooms were cheaper a refund was deposited to the credit card used to pay for the original deposits. Unbeknown to me the four deposits of $1600 were also credited to that credit card. In November The 3rd person in the Grand suite had to cancel. I notified RC and for no apparent reason RC deposited a large amount of money into his mothers credit card, then contacted me for the credit card details of the mother to take it back. They had the card number to deposit but not to reverse it. I got the card details and approval and gave it to my contact in groups at RC. They immediately took the money back bu then it took 6 weeks to give back the correct refund. Just a week prior to departure I was then told someone underpaid and someone overpaid. This was not correct as all money had been paid in September and all documents issued. So more waste of time and stress, I sent a complete list of payments due and paid and no one in our group owed any money nor was anyone owed any money from RC except the cancellation from the GS. I was correct. I was then told that the group owed $1600. After many e mails I was told RC had automatically refunded $1600 in October and that unless it was refunded to RC this would effect our boarding. I then realised what RC had done and was able to again give the credit card details for RC to take back the $1600 they mistakenly deposited to one of the credit cards used to pay for the cruise. I was shocked that RC accounting can make so many errors and they expected me to sort out their mistakes or our boarding would be effected. And only days before departure still no refund for the cancelled booking. So as you can imagine I was upset prior to departure and struggling to get into holiday mode.
I decided to put all that stress and disappointment behind and started to look forward to the cruise with my family and friends.
I was then uplifted when I received an e mail from Yang Qi who introduced herself and was to be our concierge.
We arrived at the ship for our 1.30pm embarkation. A porter took all of our luggage in one container and boarding was pleasant as we were in a suite and didn't have to queue. When we got on the ship we were informed the rooms would not be available until 4pm due to the sanitizing needed. As this was for our benefit nobody seemed to mind and we had time to all meet as a group in the Windjammer, then explore the ship.
As we had been advised the rooms were now available at 4pm my husband and I went to our suite. Our luggage had not arrived and there was no one to advise us of the various facilities in the Royal Suite. After an hour I contacted our concierge, Yang Qi. She arrived with Michael who was to be our attendant during the cruise. When I asked him why he didn't meet and greet us at 4pm to advise us of the facilities in the suite, he said he was busy. Not a good start especially as there is only one Royal Suite on the ship.
When I asked Michael how to work the piano or the curtains he didn't know. Yang Qi then provided the discs needed to operate the piano and Michael explained the curtains didnt work they were broken and curtains were hanging off hooks. After 3 days I had to ask for a shower cap as none had been put in the bathroom. I blame RC for not training their staff and not attending to the maintenance of the room. Michael was clearly very inexperienced to be attending this type of suite.
Our luggage finally arrived about 9pm. No idea why it took from 1.30pm to 9pm to get our luggage and 3 pieces of my luggage were missing. One bag arrived with the handle broken. My brother in law didn't get his luggage so he went to get it and on his way back he recognised a piece of my mother's luggage sitting in the hallway. I went to check and sure enough it did belong to her but her room was on the other side of the ship. All luggage was tagged but this tag was removed. It should not have just been left in the hallway but taken to the baggage area for collection when she realised it hadn't been delivered to her suite.
By midnight it was obvious 3 pieces of my luggage were missing and I didn't ever get them. I was given forms to complete and now I have to go through my insurance. Yang took me on day 2 to the shop on board to get some basic needs that were lost and when I arrived in Hobart I purchased more of what was lost. One bag arrived with the handle broken. My brother in law didn't get his luggage so he went to get it himself and on his way back he recognised a piece of my mother's luggage sitting in the hallway. I went to check and sure enough it did belong to her but her room was on the other side of the ship. All luggage was tagged but this tag was removed. This bag should not have just been left in the hallway but taken to the baggage area for collection when my mother realised it hadn't been delivered to her suite. She was lucky as my 3 bags never turned up at all.
When we got our documentation on the internet I had realised a month prior to departure that the bedding configuration was incorrect and I sent an e mail to our group co ordinator detailing every rooms bedding configuration required. I received a confirmation e mail that this was taken care of and all documents had been amended. Soon after arrival to our rooms I was informed that the bedding was not corrected. I gave Yang Qi a copy of the e mails and she had this corrected.
I had used the planner to book our celebration dinner for 21 people at Portofino's and also ordered 2 cakes and followed up with e mail confirmation. Upon arrival into Portofino's our tables were incorrect and the staff were not aware of the cake order. Fortunately the staff were fantastic and while they couldn't change the table they did get the cakes.
I had to constantly ask for information. Yang Qi appeared to do the best she could during the cruise but even she was let down and given incorrect information to pass to us. Yang also did her best to help keep our group together in the theatre and she looked after our seating at the ice show.
I had pre booked transport in each port. I was unaware of the procedures at each port for private bookings. I knew a couple of thousand passengers would get off the ship so I pre booked taxis, limousines etc from Sydney prior to departure. At one of the ports I asked Michael where to go on the ship to exit. He used his phone and advised to go to deck 1 aft. We went there and surprised no one else was there, then after a while we heard the announcement stating exit was at the other end of the ship on a different deck. I then discovered our pre booked transport was not allowed to go where the ships tour buses were because of security protocol. I was not informed of any assistance at the ports and when I enquired from Yang she did what she could to assist embarking and meeting with our pre booked limousines and taxis. It was as simple as notifying the ports and being on their list.
We did not use the concierge facilities as we would have liked as there was very few seats given the number of guests able to use it and on the one occasion I did go to the concierge lounge children were running in and out and were very noisy. They were as entitled as we were to use it as they were also in suites but with no parental control it was too unpleasant. There should be an area for adults only or a no children policy and on a large ship like Voyager more seating.
The waiters in the dining room were great and very obliging. The staff generally were friendly and helpful. The massage in the Spa was one of the best I've had and the hairdressers were wonderful. John the Marketing and Revenue Manager was a pleasure to meet and speak with. Gordon the entertainer was fantastic.
Some of the children's entertainment particularly the parade was scheduled during our dining time which was a pity. Next cruise I would take the option for 'my time dining' that way I can avoid missing events and activities especially if I have my young grandchildren with me.
There was a pyjama bingo one morning which was fun. I felt very sorry for those who went to the trouble of wearing pj's only to be sent away because there wasn't enough seats or tickets. There should have been two queues one for those in pj's and the other for those who didn't wear pj's.
The Ice show was a must see. It was truely world class. Some of the nightly theatre shows were good but nothing fantastic. We enjoyed the game shows.
We had all pre paid the gratuities. I was informed that we would not be given vouchers to personally thank those who looked after us. I informed our group we wouldn't get envelopes as gratuities were attended to by the company not us to give out. On the last day some of us were given envelopes. I asked the floor manager to remove the envelopes from all our rooms, which he did, but this was uncomfortable as those who looked after us in the dining room and our attendants were expecting something from us.
As I had booked our transport for 10am upon arrival back in Sydney I spent considerable time with Yang to arrange that all our luggage was together and a time to disembark. Tags were placed in our rooms. I was then informed we all had different tags and different times to disembark. The floor manager came and I explained the problem which he went and fixed and we then all had the same tags and same disembarking time. Yang met us in our suite at 9.30am as arranged her and she took us to exit the ship only she took us to the wrong exit and left us. I don't know if she was misinformed or she just assumed which exit we had to go to get our luggage. We had no idea what she had arranged we just went with her to where she took us. When we had all got off including my 84 yr old mother in a wheel chair, we were told we all had to get back on the ship and go to another area to collect our luggage. We all got back on board and asked for Yang. The staff contacted her and she was too busy to come and help us. We had no idea whatsoever where to go or how to get there. We were then taken to the other end of the ship on another deck and finally got off. Our transport had been sent away to do another job. We then had to wait another hour when we should have had an uneventful disembarking and adequate time to meet our transport.
I doubt that I would go to the expense of booking another RC cruise or the Royal Suite again as I reasonably expected to be better looked after with much more consideration by RC and their staff .
From the time we needed to change a room in October 2012 until the end of the cruise on 5th January 2013 I have very little fond memory of the dealings direct with RC and their overall cruise experience. I believe we deserved to be treated much better than we were for the expense we went to, to share a holiday and celebration with our group of 28 family and friends.
My husband purchased the 'Cruise in Review' DVD. So did others in our group. Ours was ok but 3 of them are blank. We contacted Crown and Anchor on 8th January 2013 and were told we would be sent replacements or receive a refund. It is now 3 weeks later and we haven't received the replacements nor a refund nor been contacted as to why.
I am so disappointed with Royal Caribbean and I doubt I will ever cruise again with them unless I get a written apology for the stress and anguish their incompetence has caused my husband and myself and our family and friends who were aware of the treatment we received and didn't receive during the entire process of trying to have a wonderful holiday and celebration cruise. I have never experienced such a terrible holiday and it should have been the best.