We were excited by the ports of call on this cruise, Japan and Korea are places we always wanted to see. We were not disappointed with the ports themselves but the cruise (our 4th) was well below par.
We had a balcony, on edge of the hump on the 6th level. Very comfortable. Lots of storAge and an excellent shower with plenty of hot water. Our room steward was great, pleasant and friendly without being too in your face, he did a great job. There was a kettle in the room.
Not very much and the quality was questionable. The ice show was excellent. There was one production show, with dancers, quite good but we would expect at least one more on a 12 day cruise. There were "cultural experiences" but they were scheduled only at 9am, and altogether ( origami and a talk on kimonos in Japan on at the same time) the rest was occasional trivia, a table tennis comp etc. there were four formal nights presumably to allow for new passengers boarding in Tokyo. Formal nights seemed to be mainly about allowing an opportunity for photos, food was nothing special, no shows on formal nights.
The ship is a central atrium design which we quite liked, some parts looking a little tired, mainly furniture, with one exception. The aquarium lounge just looked unloved to us, the glass has been taken out of the aquariums, the "decorations" look like faded old carnival attractions, nota pleasant place to relax and certainly not somewhere to spend a fun evening, the other lounges were fine. Curtain throughout were a bit faded, tired.
The shore excursion office was incredibly busy, mainly because of the mess on the web site and the port changes. At the beginning of the cruise we got someone else's tickets, unable to contact them, we waited in line for 2 HOURS to get our tickets. If they had staff working the line to answer simple questions the problem would have solved itself.
This was a major problem, menus were mixed but half was not available. We had my time dining, usually ate at about 7.30. Service was fine, although one waiter told us in great detail about his lack of tips for room service work. The kng po chicken was the worst thing I've had on ANY cruise, deserts were ok, nothing exciting. Fruit in the Windjammer was hard to find at anytime, just melon and pineapple, the Asian section of the buffet was ok, but sushi ran out early, soups were always barely warm (I'm not sure there's an excuse for not being able to heat soup) prime rib was fine the first night but that was the only time a jacket potato appeared, even when on the menu it was replaced witha very uninteresting mash. Salad I the MDR for lunch was good. In general it was the worse dining I've ever encountered on any cruise.
The speciality venues,Portofinos and Johnny Rockets were very good.
Excursions and ports
We only did three ship excursions, one in Toyama, one in Murano, one in Busan. Murano was added to the schedule on the ship and was an excellent tour to the Ainu village at night. Toyama was a trip to Kanazawa, left over an hour late, at11am, no food stops or even and opportunity to grab anything from a machine( it is Japan) far too rushed, 30 minutes at each stop, and at all of them the walk from the bus was at least 10 minutes, at a trot. Therefore we had 10minutes in the Samuri house, including taking off and putting on shoes, 15 minutes to walk around the geisha district, 1 hour in the gardens, including. 20 minute walk each way to get there. Busan was the same, the run through the fish market (which was supposed to be a highlight) was less than 30minites even though we parked 10 minutes awAy. The other ports I organised privately, but there was a lot of talk about the disorganisation and lack of transport.
I was told that RCI was a well organised cruise line, medium range but there were things on this cruise that made me doubt this.
Our daughter bought us the romance package, everything great lovely roses and champagne, bathrobes waiting for us thanks to our great room steward. Canapés the first formal night were lovely, delivered on time. The second formal night there was a knock on the door and a room service steward handed over a giant silver plate of canapés, about 12 salmon mousse , two smoked salmon, a couple of falling over cheese canapés, all on a soiled doily, and all totally soggy. Obviously left over from a function much earlier in the day. The room service breakfast with the package had the normal menu, I assumed the the items above the line which did not have a check box were automatic, unfortunately that is not the case so there was no bread and pastry basket, no fruit platter but there was butter and assorted jams. We had scrambled eggs and smoked salmon, with no toast or anything else and tea .
Prior to departure I booked and paid for a "premium wine experience" scheduled for the second day at 2 pm. We rolled up to the dining room, nothing, down to the desk, they had no idea but tried to find out, said it would be on later the next day, waited the next day at the dining room, nothing, back to guest services, just to arrange a reimbursement to be told it will be on and in the Compass. Second last day , behold there's a wine tasting advertised in the Compass so down we go again, only to be told its $10 ( we had paid $25 each) and that anyway it was cancelled due to lack of interest. Back to guest services to arrange a refund which this time was promptly organised.
As previously stAted I organised tours privately in Tokyo, Nagasaki and Hokkaido. My contact in Tokyo informed me that our ship was not docking at Yokohama but at the the Oi terminal in Tokyo city, a considerable change. After 6 phone calls to various people who should have known this, including one to the US office, I decided that my contact probably knew more than RCCL about where their ships docked, including one rep who told me we must be docking at Yokohama cos it said on Google that this port is the Only one big enough for Voyager!? We docked at the Oi terminal and in a news article that day there were photos of the Captain and representatives of the mayor at a function on the ship announcing the future cruises from Tokyo (and NO ONE at RCCL seemed to have the slightest idea! )
On three occasions the Promadade Cafe was stocked with only Brie and cranberry bagels, heaps of them, but nothing else. The English pub didn't have English beer on tap. The Sportbar had the cruise DVD on continuous loop for the final four days of the cruise. ( on about 14 screens) needless to say the bar was totally empty.
In general we both agreed that this cruise had somewhat put us off cruising as a vacation, which is sad because both MSC and Princess have given me very memorable holidays. I would need to be very reassured that RCCL had lifted its game before I even considered travelling with them again.