This was our first cruise on Royal Caribbean. For the most part everything was good, my issues are somewhat nitpicky but I choose cruises for the itineary first and the cruise line second.
Starting off getting to Harwich is a chore, it is about an hour and a half from London. We opted to stay in London a couple of days before the cruise. Other folks flew in the morning of the cruise and had a very long day. The cruise line offers a very expensive transfer that takes all day to get there. We opted for the train. We bought our tickets ahead of time and paid only about $20 each for the train from London to Harwich. It did involve a change of trains that was very short and steps down and up to the other platform, however it took us right to the dock where we rolled our luggage to the baggage handlers.
Embarkation was smooth. We waited a couple of hours for our luggage which was not too bad. We opted for My Time Dining, which allowed us the flexibility to eat at different More
hours. We actually at the same time each night except for three occasions, but it worked out fine. 80% of the time dinner was excellent, one time was poor, and two others were mediocre but that's not a bad batting average. We mostly ate breakfast at the Windjammer Buffet, which had lots of choices. Service was excellent at dinner and the few breakfasts we had in the restaurant.
The ports were excellent. We opted to stay in Le Harve the first port rather than going to Paris or the Normandy Beaches since those trips were long days, the second port was Portland UK, where we took a tour to Stonehenge and the adjacent town. The third stop was Cork. None of the ship's tours were comprehensive enough for me. We opted to arrange a tour from Paddywagon tours who took us to Blarney Castle and lots of other places. It was all day but very reasonably priced with ten of us in a large van. Stop four was Dublin. I have been there several times but this was the first for my wife. So again we covered all of the elements of two of the ship's tours for quite a bit less. Stop five was the Faroe Islands where we booked an excellent tour of the islands. We had time in the morning to explore the village and learned a lot of the history of the islands. Stop six was Iceland. Two days in Reykjavik. Day one we took a ship's tour which was excellent. Day two we were on our own in the city which was very interesting. Weather was excellent, warm and sunny until we got to Iceland where it was around 50 degrees F and raining.
Transit to Boston was five days long. It is a long ways and we ran into a little weather, seas were rough for about a day. Dinner crowd was somewhat light that night. Entertainment on board was excellent. Mostly acts from the UK and a Argentine tango group. Now the nits. Three ports we were a long ways from the downtown area. Shuttle busses were way overpriced. A local bus in Iceland was 1/5 of the price of the shuttle bus and it stopped two blocks away. In Dublin the Luas tram was less than a mile from the ship yet no one mentioned where it was. The shuttle bus was lots more that the tram/cab combo. In Le Harve there was a little tram that took you to downtown for less than the price of the shuttle bus, and gave a narration along the way.
The other nit is the wine pricing. Mixed drinks were ok but beer and wine were outrageous. I looked at the wine pricing and I found wines that were 4 to 6 times the wholesale price on the wine list. Most restaurants in the US use a 3X markup. Beer prices are cheaper at some major league baseball parks than on the ship. Yes I know that offer cabins for very little and they need to make it up somehow but really? I bought a wine package (7 bottles) and that made the price somewhere close to reasonable. Cruises lines put a lot of effort into serving very good meals. I would like to enjoy them with a glass of beer or wine. Is that too much to ask? Overall I give the cruise a very good grade. Prices (with the exceptions noted) were reasonable. Service was excellent and food for the most part was very good. Would I rush back to this ship or RCCL again? Only if they had an itinerary I liked at a reasonable price. Less
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