Firstly, we were extremely disappointed that Royal Caribbean International changed the 7 day cruise to a 5 day cruise at the last minute without explanation and that the itinerary changed so drastically from having FOUR ports of call to only ONE. We had planned this trip for over twelve months and had booked this cruise because we wanted to go to Jeju Island and Japan. Although we were given the option of cancelling, it was such short notice that it was not financially feasible for us as there was holiday leave from work, bookings of hotels and flights to be considered.
Secondly, we were greatly disappointed with the actual cruise. It became obvious once we had embarked that this was not going to be the cruise that we had expected. We were informed by the crew that the cruise ship had been chartered by various Chinese tour groups and that the cruise was totally tailored for the Chinese guests. There were only 25 English speaking guests on this cruise, half of them children. (This cruise ship holds 3,500 guests plus crew) The Cruise Director and some of the other English speaking crew, did apologise for all this, and spoke to us as if we already knew about the cruise being chartered. They were surprised that we didn't know. Upon speaking with most of the other English speaking guests, none of them (including ourselves) had been informed of this by their travel agents.
I wondered why there were No shore excursions listed on their website and found out when on board that there were NO shore excursions planned for independent guests as the tour groups had organised their own. Fortunately the cruise director went out of his way to organise ONE shore excursion in Seoul, for the English speaking guests.
Communication was not good. The majority of signs on the ship and announcements (all but a few) were in Chinese. We had to request that our cabin information be in English as all written information was in Chinese. Most of the announcements for the safety drill were in Chinese so that our cabin assistant had to knock on our door to muster us to the muster station. The guests service desk had staff that were fluent in Mandarin. Mostly with basic English and poor comprehension. The shore excursion desk - I was told to go to the guests service desk as the person did not speak English. So to be able to find out information we had to find an English speaking crew member. Also,we were given misinformation from the guests service desk about being able to go into the nearby town on the second day when in port in Korea, and so missed out on doing anything, we just stayed on the ship.
The activities and entertainment on the ship were not well planned. Some of the shows were not repeated at another time or day. We only saw one show (ice show) in all the 5 days. Other activities were on when people were onshore e.g. table tennis competition. We turned up for a Jewelery making activity and were told that it had been cancelled due to a private function being arranged in its place. There was no rearrangement to another venue and guests were not informed of the cancellation prior.
My husband and I have been on 12 cruises previously and the food is always something to look forward to, but not on this cruise. The food was very ordinary, lacked variety and presentation and was much below the standard we expected on such a cruise ship. In the main dining room, it was much the same menu each day. Unfortunately, I got food poisoning and had to spend 24 hours in my cabin. I must say that the specialty Italian Restaurant was excellent, more like the standard that we should of had in the main dining room. I only wish that we had discovered it earlier on the cruise as we would have eaten there instead.
In summary, I cannot fault the crew or the ship itself but there needs to be more honesty by the Royal Caribbean International about this particular cruise and better communication with the travel agents so that they can in turn inform guests who can then decide if they want to go on a cruise like this.