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.
1.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. You can see some of the photos below. 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.
2.CUSTOMER SERVICE -- The service provided by our room steward and much of the dining staff and guest services 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. I never asked for his personal email; I only asked to inform him of some concerns. Instead, he rudely pushed me off to his guest services manager. And while this employee listened and was polite, we were surprised by The hotel director's rudeness and lack of concern, especially with concerns of suite guests and Diamond members. We never did meet with the hotel director nor were we given any way of contacting him.
3.FOOD -- The dining staff was amazing, especially our head waiter and some chefs.. However, we found the quality of food to have declined. Also, we are strict vegetarians, unless the meat is kosher, 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 bit. This was a very big problem for us. It would be a bigger problem for someone with allergies.
4.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 (this is a very inexpensive fix) and the rims were bent and rusted. These should be replaced and maintained.
5.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.
6.QUINCINERA guests -- 300 teenagers from Argentina being allowed on a ship with insufficient supervision is completely unacceptable. 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 cabin 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 and I being verbally abused, There was no supervision during this, and the teens were completely out of control.
Again, as Diamond members and suite guests, we expect better service and quality. I always make a point to write a letter following every cruise. I am not a complainer and previous letters have only complimented RCCL. However, this cruise was a real disappointment for us as far as the issues above. RCCL used to be a better quality, family cruise line. Royal used to have outstanding quality and service, but these areas have clearly slipped. We paid significant money 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.