Travelled with my family in a party of 10 on the cross Atlantic sailing from Harwich to Boston. Have been on BOTS 3 times before and always had a great time. The family wanted to visit New York and we wanted to take the grand children on this ship so an ideal cruise. Great anticipation following the $30 million dollar refit.
Lets start with the Ugly. One particular eastern European receptionist/guest services person was so rude even I was dumbstruck. She refused eye contact and just would not acknowledge a perfectly reasonable question.
In the Park Café it must have been her brothers Grimm as we called them. They protected the food like there was a national shortage and woe betides you if you wanted a serviette. It was like you insulted their parentage. Very odd and unwelcoming. On the first day out they had chocolate milk, which the kids love. I asked for 6, as there was 5 of them and 1 of me. Talk about incredulity. Plonked on the counter one after the other with a grimace. How was I supposed to carry them? Raised eyebrows. Not his problem. Put them on a couple of plates if you would be so kind. Guess what. No chocolate milk for the rest of the cruise. In the same way crisps were rationed. Anytime after 1:00 pm no chance until the next day.
The Solarium ' No kids allowed under 16 unless inclement weather when they can go between 10 - 2 and 4 ''" 6. Four pm arrives and my 2-year-old granddaughter enters the wading part and screams with delight. Only once mind you. The next thing you know my son is confronted by the pool attendant telling him he must keep her quiet. They are the only ones in the pool. My son points out the rules board and politely suggests he read it. No rules about kids enjoying themselves. Now I am the first to complain about other peoples kids making a nuisance but this was a tiny 2 year old who exclaimed once. I dread to think what would have happened if the pool had been full of kids, as was permitted at this time. However, the attendant then summoned security who paraded around the pool like it was Wormwood Scrubs eyeballing us like we were ready to storm the bridge. Unbelievable.
The Bad. On arriving at our family suite I was disappointed to find out none of the $30 million had been spent on the rooms apart from the flat screen TVs. In the lounge were 2 lampshades they must have found on the dump. Made of paper, with holes and yellowed by time. The carpet under the table had not seen a Hoover this side of Christmas. The blind was moth eaten and tied up so you could not raise it. Generally drab and tired all round. Our room boy arrived - Alvin. I listed my complaints. He looked like he had been slapped with a wet fish. I later discovered there should have been a card setting out the pillow preferences and another card setting out the suites amenities. Neither was present. Guess why? It would have caused him work.
I asked for 6 robes. (You would have thought they would already have been there). No chance. Too many Diamond members. How many cups and saucers and glasses would I like? As there were 6 of us in the suite probably 6 of each. When I found out about the pillows I made my request. No chance. Too many suites. Are the suites growing from cruise to cruise? Any chance of ice please. Later…… I gave up. No more angst today we were still in Harwich!
Next morning arrive in Le Havre. Order room service. You’ve guessed it. Never turned up. That evening I went to guest services and politely requested an appointment with the Hotel Director. It was explained there was a management structure and I could meet the Guest Services Manager, which I did and explained my issues. Lindsey was very good, made a note and promised action. (Forgot to mention no binoculars either). After a couple of days all my requests had been met. Room services manager promised me canapés every night. The first night they arrived it was a few pieces of dried up cheese. They never came again, even on the formals. The room services manager was in touch and I was given a bottle of Moet and some flowers. However, for the rest of the cruise Alvin continued to be completely inept. Everything was too much trouble. In 40 cruises he was the worst by a country mile. Shame. I could not understand why he was on the ship let alone looking after a suite.
What have they done with the Champagne Bar? Where are Rusty and Susie? Replaced with Vintages wine bar. Can’t understand why replace a popular bar with something that was mostly empty every night. Tragic. It was the highlight of our evenings on our previous trips.
Looking around the ship it is hard to see where the money went unless it was all behind the scenes.
Food ''" menus have changed and they have not improved the quality. Definite signs of squeezing every penny saving they can. Reduced choice in the Windjammer. Anyway I will not criticise then too much on this as I understand with falling prices some thing has to give. If you want better food you have to pick other lines and pay more entrance money to get on the ship.
The Good Concierge Club. Great waiters and good concierge. Nothing too much trouble. Generous with drinks and bent over backwards to make sure you got what you wanted and as much as you could carry out of the room at 8 pm on closing.
However, the highlight of the ship was Mohit and Denise, our waiters. Mohit from India and larger than life. Denise from Peru and petite. A great combination. Mohit produced a number of puzzles each night to entertain the whole table and some of those around. In particular moving an egg from one eggcup to another without touching them was hilarious and had many guests trying to achieve it. Each night he would give his recommendations from the menu and if it was something not particularly good he would say, ”This is big crap” don’t try it. But then he would make us try it to prove he was right, and he was. Not everyone’s idea of fun but it made us laugh and in a way deflected from the quality of the food so every night we left the restaurant in good spirits.
Ports of call - All worth a visit. TIP ''" Anyone going to Reykjavik don’t use SAD cars for your rental. You have been warned.
Entertainment ''" On the whole of a good standard. Enjoyed all the trivia. Family took part in the Thriller dance and had a great time.
Fellow passengers - Mostly American and in their 70s. As on each occasion with this ship met some nice members of the Friends of Dorothy, especially Phil and Scott from Canada who became honorary family members for the cruise. Thanks to them we won the Extreme Trivia.
I hope this review does not come across as too critical as we all had a very good time. However, I think it is the end of the line for my wife and I with RC. We will not make Diamond Plus. Princess next and then back to Regent and Celebrity when we travel alone.