Apologies this is a rather lengthy review but I feel it is needed!
We have just returned from a 17 night holiday dubai to singapore - 2 nights in dubai 11 nights on the mariner and 2 nights singapore . good flight to dubai and a wonderful stay including high tea in the skyview bar Burj Al Arab amazing! then to the ship ! having cruised 9 times before but never with RCI I guess our expectations were high ! we were informed about a month prior to the cruise that they would be doing remodelling on the ship ready for the chinese market and given $100 OBC per cabin - such short notice meant we had no choice but to accept this as we would have lost our money by transferring to another cruise ! We were informed that we could not board the ship unless we had an Indian visa even if we did not want to get off the ship in India - not true ! there were many passengers without a visa ! We queued for 2 hours just to embark - they were even handing out free water it was so hot ! Eventually we boarded and found our cabin - no complaints about the cabin - lovely size with a great view over the royal promenade - it was kept spotlessly clean by our steward Roy and we had the added bonus of a kettle and mugs halfway through the cruise!
Our cases didnt arrive until mid-evening - our friend was celebrating his birthday that evening and we just managed to get changed and eat in the restaurant !
The service in the dining room ( my time dining ) was slow until we found a more efficient waiter Melvin who we then requested whenever we ate in the dining room and the food was on the whole lukewarm !
We tried breakfast in the dining room twice - both times it was very slow and the staff were very miserable and surly so we then ate at the windjammer for the rest of the cruise - disappointing as we do like to eat in the dining room especially as we had 6 sea days!
Entertainment - disappointing - tried most of the shows/acts but did not actually stay for the whole performance except for the ice show which was amazing and the shows run by the hosts that were very good .
Quizzes - we really enjoy our quizzes on the ships and love meeting all the different people who also enjoy them . Cassy ( I think I have spelt it right) one of the hosts was excellent and we really enjoyed her progressive trivia and our team of 6 enjoyed each others company . the rest of the trivias were disappointing as all the hosts did was read from a quiz book ( I actually have this book at home but unfortunately hadn't read it ! ) Not much imagination used and their personalitites were a little flat. I must admit I have never been to quizzes before that were as competitive and bitchy as these ones - I actually thought we would have fisticuffs one session ! And yes the men were as bad if not worse than the ladies !
They were traing staff for the china run and it was very obvious from the level of service that there were many new staff on borad ! By the end of the cruise if I had heard " we are preparing for the chinese market " one more time I would have screamed - it felt like our money ( rather a lot of it ) was being taken for granted and that we were expected to just accept everything !I felt very sorry for the people with cabins near the sites that were being re-modelled it must have been so noisy !
The next nightmare was the immigration process for India - we queued for 2 hours both days to get our paspports stamped by very rude Indian officials - I can honestly say I will NEVER set foot in India again - extremely disappointing and it cost us £400 in total with trips and visas that could have been spent elsewhere .
There were many other disappointments but I feel I have waffled too long now - one aspect of the cruise that was excellent was the choice of food at the windjammer - we have rarely eaten at the buffet restaurants on other ships but here it was so good that we ate there more than the main dining rooms.
All in all we experienced nothing that would encourage us to cruise with RCI again and many people said the same although people who had cruised with them before said this was the worst cruise they had been on but they would still recommend RCI so watch this space we may be tempted back we will see !