We are Diamond Members and are often suite guests. We recently sailed on the Freedom of the Seas from Port Canaveral on January 7, 2013, and stayed in a Royal Family Suite. While parts of the cruise were fine, we are extremely concerned with the noticeable decline in quality and service that we experienced with Royal Caribbean. I have listed below our primary concerns.
SUITE -- We stayed in 8414 which is a Royal Family Suite. The room steward was phenomenal, professional, and helpful. However, we were extremely unhappy with the decline of quality in the suite. The suite has aged and clearly has not been maintained. The curtain to the deck had many holes and tears in it. The sheets were ripped and stained, and we repeatedly had cheap, torn and frayed towels. I took photos and will upload them if I can figure out how to do that. On prior journeys, the lounge chairs on the decks had a special large white towels that went over the headpiece of the lounge chair. On this journey, there were not only no towels covering the two dirty blue plastic lounge chair cushions, but we were told that we had to go up to the pool area with our key card to get towels and that we would have to do this every time we needed new towels for the chairs. We were shocked. As suite guests, towels for lounge chairs should be readily available. We addressed this issue to the concierge who made arrangements only after several of our complaints and after requesting to meet with the hotel director. Our room steward also did her best to get towels. However, we should not have had to fight to get towels in our suite to use on lounge chairs.
CUSTOMER SERVICE -- The service provided by our room steward, the guest services desk, our head waiter, and much of the dining staff was outstanding. However, we were very disappointed with some other employees. First, the concierge was not helpful until we would ask to speak with someone above him. I mentioned this in the previous paragraph. He was also very condescending and embarrassed my daughter who was with us regarding how she was dressed. We have never had problems with any prior concierge. As I mentioned, I had asked that the concierge arrange a meeting with the hotel director on the first day of the cruise as I had many concerns. I asked repeatedly, but nothing was ever arranged. On the last day of our cruise, I saw the hotel director after the Farewell Show. I approached him, introduced myself as a suite guest and as a Diamond member, and told him that I had asked to meet with him during the cruise. He was not aware of any request. I then told him that we had a number of concerns and that if he doesn't have time now, I could send him an email to address my concerns. He rudely told me that he doesn't give out his personal email. I was shocked once again. Other RCCL employees have always given me their RCCL email address or a business card. Instead, the hotel director rudely pushed me off to someone who worked for him. And while this employee listened, we were surprised by the hotel director's rudeness and lack of concern, especially with concerns of suite guests and Diamond members.
FOOD -- The dining staff was amazing, especially the head waiter and two of the chefs. They met all of our requests and special needs. However, we found the quality of food to have declined. We are strict vegetarians, and twice, we requested no meat or ham and received meat both times. Once, at breakfast in Portofino, I ordered Eggs Benedict with no ham, and the chef made it with ham. Thinking it was an overcooked tomato, I didn't notice until I tasted it. Another time, my son ordered an omelette with no meat in the Windjammer Cafe and received an omlette with ham. He, too, didn't notice until he had already taken a bite. This was a very big problem for us. It's an even bigger problem if someone has allergies.
ENTERTAINMENT -- With the exception of Once Upon a Time which was a wonderful show, we found the entertainment quality to have declined as well. The shows were not horrible, but they were not nearly as entertaining as they have been previously. I suppose this is also reflected by the emptiness of the theaters and activities. Also, we are a very big basketball family, and choose ships often based on having a full-court basketball court. However, the hoops on Freedom are not in good condition. The nets were ripped and the rims were bent and rusted. These should be replaced and maintained.
COMPUTER -- The computer system, particularly the logoff procedure, needs to be improved. It is unfair to expect guests to type a very long URL to logoff from the system. On prior journeys, all we had to do was enter 126.96.36.199 to be logged off. Before logging onto their system, be sure to understand how to log off...especially with an iPad.
QUINCINERA guests -- 300 teenagers from Argentina being allowed on a ship with insufficient supervision is completely unacceptable. Beware Freedom guests in July and August--they are scheduled for both months. When we tried to reserve a cabin previously for just our four children, we were told that there must be at least one adult in each cabin. These teenagers were completely out of control and were unfortunately in our hallway. They were rude and disrespectful throughout the ship. They ran into elevators before waiting guests. They drew obscene pictures on the outside of their doors which we had to walk past in the mornings. They left garbage everywhere. However, the worst was the night we had to call security because of all of the cursing in the hallway, followed by my husband being verbally abused and cursed at, followed by some girls cursing at me. There was no supervision during this, and the teens were completely out of control.
EMBARKATION--This went quickly. However, they lost a key card upon embarking (while still at the check-in desk) and then the employee linked all of the key cards to my credit card BUT she forgot to link my key card to my own credit card. We didn't discover this until we were on the ship. It was another inconvenience which should not have happened.
FITNESS & RECREATION -- The gym is probably one of the best ones out there. Lots of equipment and space. The basketball courts need new rims and nets. The rims are rusted and the nets are torn. Also, be sure to bring your own ball as RCCL only hands out balls at specific times.
You can look at my previous reviews and see that I am not a complainer. We were shocked by the decline of RCCL. Again, as Diamond members and suite guests, we expect better service and quality. Actually, we expect better from RCCL period. RCCL used to be a better quality, family cruise line. Sadly, it seems that NCL is moving ahead in this area. Royal used to have outstanding quality and service, but these areas have clearly slipped. We paid over $14,000 for a one week vacation with Royal and would definitely question any decision to do so again. The torn towels, torn curtains, and stained sheets reminded us of a cheap motel. The poor customer service from the concierge and the hotel director were unacceptable. The entertainment has declined, and paying for a suite but feeling like we were in a dormitory full of out-of-control teenagers was unfair. We have booked the Royal Family Suite on the Allure for our next cruise in January, but we will most likely be choosing another cruise line or an all-inclusive resort after this experience on Freedom of the Seas. It's really a shame.