From the time we stepped on the boat until the moment we got off, it seemed as if Royal Caribbean International (RCI) was CONSTANTLY pushing some "sale" or "special" or "auction". I suppose that people like this, but I really just wanted them to stop trying to up-sell me on everything from special meals to photography packages to gold chains by the inch (I'm not kidding).
Besides the constant sales pitch, the cruise was a mixed bag.
1. Getting on the boat was fantastic and well run operation. Very simple and easy.
2. Room was clean and reasonably sized.
3. The gym was much larger than I anticipated. There was even a steam room and a dry sauna in the locker room.
4. "Specialty" restaurants - We went to all 3 and they were really very good and had excellent service. You pay extra for each of these, but we felt it was worth it.
5. Sushi restaurant had an excellent "hot rock" dish. The food here was really very good!!
6. Generally relaxing. There seemed to be plenty of space to find a spot to sit and relax.
7. Cruise Director's Staff. They were fun and funny. They'd pop up all over the place and facilitate an event and such. We liked them.
1. My wife was pregnant and couldn't drink. No problem, except that all individuals in a given stateroom must buy the alcohol packages... so I was forced to "pay as you go" in terms of drinks. It turned out that this was a better deal for me at the end of the day but this seemed to a silly rule that they wouldn't bend on.
1. Nickel & Dimed: Everywhere you turned, they were trying to sell you something. Everything was a "deal"! They found a way to sell you everything. Even a "behind the scenes" ship tour-- $150! I'm all for a company charging what the market will bear but at some point you're just ripping people off.
2. Staff / Service Another guest (who had done several cruises) joked that Royal Caribbean's slogan should be "If you want something, go get it yourself." Other than our room attendant and the specialty restaurant staffs, we felt as if the others were inconvenienced by anything we may have asked for. Everyone seemed to have a bit of an attitude and nobody seemed to actually like their jobs. They all seemed to be annoyed to be working. Only 1 time on the last day did someone ask us if we'd like a drink while sitting at the pool.
3. Towel service. I've never in my life been to a resort or hotel where they make you check out pool towels with your room key so that they can charge you $25 if you don't bring them back. Where in the world are you going to take them? You're stuck on a boat! There's no place to go with them!
4. Restaurants. There are 3:
(a) Park Cafe - open pretty much all the time. Serves snacks, sandwiches and salads. The ham & cheese on mini croissants were awesome. Otherwise, the selections were pretty limited.
(b) Windjammer Cafe - This is the buffet. The food here was pretty uneven. Sometimes it was good, sometimes it was terrible. They do have a large variety, so you can probably find something that you're interested in. The problem is that it's extremely congested. Felt very much like a mall cafeteria... or a low-rent college cafeteria. And then once you fight the crowds to get your food, you have to roam around trying to find a vacant table.
(c) Gatsby Dining Room - Men have to wear pants for dinner-- which is really pretty silly and old fashioned. The food tastes like it had all been pre-plated and sitting under heat lamps for a long time. The food wasn't terrible-- it just wasn't good. Staff here were generally friendly.
5. Schedule - Your 3 days in Bermuda is very exaggerated. We went over Labor Day and the itinerary was such that we arrived in Bermuda on Sunday evening, getting off the boat around 5:00pm. We then had all day Monday available to go ashore and on the last day, you had to be on the ship by 11:30am. So, your 3 days in Bermuda is really 1 + an evening.
6. Planning - When getting off the boat in Bermuda, we were alerted that Bermuda observes Labor day and that EVERYTHING would be closed Sunday evening and Monday essentially, the entire time we were in Bermuda. It seems that RCI should have known this and could have easily tweaked the schedule to give passengers a better chance to enjoy the island.
7. Exaggeration of Cruise time - "7 days"... I guess, if you count waking up and leaving as a day.
8. On the last evening, they closed the pools at about 6:00pm and completely drained them. I still don't understand why. Kids were disappointed to find that the pools were closed.
9. Disembarkation -TOTAL DISASTER. #ROYAL CARIBBEAN FAIL! There are really no other words to describe this. It was just a mess. Wait times to leave the boat were over 2 hours. Everyone had to just sit/stand there. It was astounding and we all felt like we were being held hostage. RCI blamed Border Control. Border Control blamed RCI. I don't know whose fault it was, but it was a terrible experience.
10. Staff lack of knowledge. When buying the "coke package" when we first got on, I asked what kind of pop (soda) they had and specifically asked if they had Coke Zero. (They advertise that they have the new coke machines that have like 75 difference flavors available, but they don't actually have these machines at all.) I was told that indeed they did have Coke Zero. In reality all they had was coke and diet coke. I guess my question was just too complicated.
I will never again in my life go on another cruise after this experience. We thought maybe it was just us, but other more experienced cruisers were complain too so we didn't feel quite as bad. One lady who had been on 10 cruises said that this was the worst cruise she had ever experienced.