On the first day during the Muster drill we were ordered by staff to leave our towels by the pool and get to the muster station as quickly as possible. We did as we were told. We had an early dinner time, so went back to our rooms and thought nothing of it. The next day when we went to get more towels, we were informed that we already had towels checked out and were on the hook for $225 in charges if we didn't get them back form the previous day (we were 2 families with 5 children). When we discussed that we were ordered to leave them the day before and would not have done so if we weren't ordered, we were looked at as if we were trying to steal them. Really? Their ripped up, frayed towels had no value to us other than to dry us off after a swim. We were being accused of stealing towels. Not a great way to start the trip.
We had called to RC directly to book the reservations, mentioning that we wanted to have the children More
picked up early from dinner so we could have some adult time while the kids played in the Adventure Ocean kids area. It sounded great, and the customer service agent assured us that we were set up and didn't need to do anything once on the ship. Our booking information (papers) also mentioned we were enrolled in this. Nobody came to pick up the children the first night. No big deal, so we went the next day and asked about it. They had no information on our group. We signed them up, and were told we would have to do so every day for each different session separately. I can somewhat understand this, but it was unexpected.
As for dinner, it's not like the kids would have been able to go to the play area anyway, as the wait staff at our table was horrendous. Maybe it was that we were a large party, maybe they were just incompetent, but the service was very slow and inattentive. We were never offered anything but water for drinks. When we asked about any other drinks, they made us feel like they were being burdened by it. Forget about asking for wine or beer. That just wasn't going to happen. We tried. Wasn't worth the effort. I guess with the mandatory tips they no longer have to provide decent service, so why would they care? We were always the last table to be served, even if the first seated, and we had to take the children up ourselves, late, to the kids area, as the waitstaff was so slow we always missed their pickup time. We arrived every night to dinner on time.
If you don't buy one (any?) of the drink packages, expect to walk A LOT to get something to drink. As we rarely drink soft drinks, and couldn't drink $80/day worth of alcohol, we chose not to get those packages. The tea and lemonade we thought would be plenty. What they don't tell you is the only place you can get these drinks are at the WindJammer on deck 9. Very inconvenient from pretty much anywhere on the ship. The bars refused to even give us water when we asked because we didn't have a drink package. When we did get a chance to get a drink, the lemonade was horribly watered down, as was the tea. Again, it's all about the money. There was nothing about this trip that made us feel like it wasn't.
The one bright spot was the day on Coco Cay island (private island). The food was really good there, the staff was decent. We took a kayaking excursion that was fun early in the morning, then paid (again) for the inflatables excursion (towers, slides, trampolines on the water). The 50 minutes on those slides was a great time with the kids, and a great workout. Everyone was beat after that. Lots of fun.
As this was my first cruise, and our friends had used RC before, we had great expectations and were told how great everything was. Needless to say, it did nothing to impress me about RC or the cruise industry in general. I was told that on larger boats that the service was better, the shows were better, and all around everything was better. Why should ship size matter? In my opinion, customer service is customer service. You're either good at it or not.
The customer service desk was anything but was more of a disservice. Our friends were told they would receive a credit for for each stateroom booked that they referred, and even their website and onboard documentation said the exact same thing. My family booked two rooms, so we them to get 2 credits. We were informed that it was per booking, not per stateroom. We asked them to read the paper that THEY were showing us, that stated it was PER STATEROOM, and they agreed that it said that, but they would not honor it as their 'internal' policy was per booking. They repeatedly read the PER STATEROOM statement, and we repeatedly told them that we agreed with what they were reading to us, and were expecting that to be honored. They did not honor it. They seem to be more than happy to tick off customers over what should be pennies to them.
As for the rooms, they were nice and decently clean, though very dated. The stateroom attendant was excellent, and did a great job of getting to know all of our names. He was wonderful, and the only person I left and 'EXTRA' tip for. I will tip very well for good service. He deserved it.
As parents, we did not let the kids know of our disappointments. We want vacations to be fun for them, so we don't burden them with the adult worries. They had a blast. Other than the service, we had a decent time. Would I cruise again?, possibly. Would I do it with Royal Caribbean?, very doubtful. If they can't get it right on a 'smaller' ship, how would it be any better on a larger scale? Less