We are Platinum members with RCCL and sadly will never be Diamond as our Thanksgiving cruise was very disappointing and we will try to avoid large RCCL ships in the future.
This will be very long, so short version goes like this:
Pros: Great production shows (2), large balcony cabins with full size couch, hand held shower
Cons: Poor service, no entertainment in addition to 2 great shows, poor music anywhere on the ship, mediocre food in restaurant, even worse in the buffet, , lines, people, kids everywhere, complete disorganization and chaos during embarkation and disembarkation, very poor service. There are too many people everywhere; no staff to be found, no service and no one cares.
Embarkation line was 2 hours long, because we are Platinum members we were able to skip the line and get on board within 30 minutes, people who started with us came on board 2 hours after we did.
Cabin 9384 was large, nice size balcony, full size couch and a fridge. No robes, no bags, no beach towels, no extras of any kind. Neighbors on all sides smoked cigars; the smell of smoke was profound every time we opened the balcony door. Room service was average, we received wrong teen program every day and needed to ask for ice, soap, breakfast menu, etc. There are no longer chocolates on the pillow or fruit tray in your room, or decorations for celebration on the door, or card from captain or crew members congratulating you on your anniversary or birthday.
First day and evening was the best day on this cruise. Thanksgiving dinner at the restaurant was good, even though the service was lacking, I don’t think that either waiter or assistant waiter smiled once during the 4 days on the ship. There was characters parade on the promenade and 70th rock party later that evening. “Comedian” was not funny and even worst when he tried to sing, my daughter kept on asking when the comedian will finally appear throughout the performance.
Day 2 at Sea. We tried to get juices delivered to our cabin, but the available selection were only watered down orange juice and watered down apple juice. Room service selection was also cut down to about 10 items, none of them were appealing. Breakfast in Windjammer was a sort of a nightmare. Lines to every station, all tables are packed, no empty spaces, waiters do not bring coffee, or tea, you have to get everything yourself and carry all dishes, and clean tables as there are very few people and they seem to be very tired and unfriendly at all times. There are no eggs benedict, no chocolate croissants, brioches, or anything tasty you would expect on vacation that bills itself as luxury. There is also no open deck off the buffer so you are stuck in the hot humid room for the duration of your meal. Compare this with Celebrity cruise with eggs benedict station that had 9 varieties of benedicts on order every morning, in addition to blini with caviar and nice breakfast fish selection. Compare this with Carnival with Asian or other ethnic food selection of different varieties available every day.
After breakfast we tried to go on the deck, but there were hundreds of kids in every pool, on every deck, in every lounge, in every elevator, pushing buttons, dropping ice creams, screaming, running, being obnoxious with mothers who did not care and no staff around to take care of the mess. The first time we went on Carnival in 1995 we saw kids first time during the disembarkation because the kids program on board was so good that for the 7 days on the ship no one knew that there were kinds onboard. This is totally not the case on RCCL.
There are signs everywhere that deck chairs cannot be reserved and that theater sits cannot be reserved, but this is not being enforced at all, there is virtually no space on this ship for adults to relax and enjoy since the only place by mid-spa on deck 11 has so few chairs you have to be there by 8 am or you will not get a place to sit.
Throughout the day we were looking for activity to do, for music to listen, to dance, for show, game, trivia – anything you normally do on the cruise ship. However RCCL cut all corners and other then dodge ball or climbing the wall, or spending money at the spa – there were no activities we could find.
I have to say that Cruise Director was excellent on this cruise, he was everywhere, attending every event, opening and closing every show and every game, he was funny, entertaining and friendly. Cruise Director and production shows are why this review gets 2 stars, the rest gets no stars at all.
We went on an ice show that we reserved 2 month in advance, the show was just so-so. We have seen shows on other ships where Russian skaters were performing and the shows were great. This time the main cast was not Russian, so the show was ok, few falls, few double toe loops, nothing special. Until Ukrainian guest performers showed what the ice skating was all about. They got standing ovation from the audience.
Evening show was very good, a little disturbing seeing men in mermaid dresses performing acrobatics with hoops; however the show was very innovative and artistic.
The dinner at the restaurant was another disappointment, the menu is very limited, it goes like this – red meat, fish, dry chicken, pasta. I don’t eat red meat, so I ordered fish fillet – it had bones and no taste, so I sent it back and waiter did not suggest another dish or even cared enough to ask what was wrong.
Day 3 – Cozumel. Breakfast nightmare with same tasteless food, lines of people, no service. We’ve been on the island 6 or 7 times, so we have few stores we like, a stroll on the island – easy day, not eventful. We went out around 10 and came back at 4, no lines in or out of the ship. We decided to have a quick bite of pizza and salad for lunch on deck 5, however the line was long and slow, there was 1 server who did not move much and bunch of moms with little kids who wanted to try everything and it took 30 minutes just to wait for one family to be served. So we dropped that idea, got few beers at the English Pub and went up to Windjammer, just to find that there was no food there. They had green leaves for salad, hamburgers, fries, hot dogs (would not be caught dead eating this stuff), more fried potatoes, greasy meat of some sort, and white rice on Jade side.
Dinner was even more disappointing, there were lamb, pasta, pork and chicken. There were no good appetizers, no salads in addition to César, no eatable soups. I asked waiter to bring me a cup of chicken soup. I don’t like lamb, so I ordered pork. Soup never materialized, when I asked about it at the middle of the meal, I was told that he forgot to order it and he can try to get it but he sounded so unwilling to do anything extra, that I just said to forget about the soup. The pork was tasteless, completely uneatable, I sent it back. And again did not get anything in exchange. My husband really enjoys lamb and usually orders 2 dishes when it is on the menu, this time he did not because it really did not taste good at all.
So by 11 pm that night I was pretty hungry, so we went to a café on the 5th floor and I got a mozzarella/tomato/pesto sandwich with cup of tea and brownie, the sandwich had no taste, no salt, no appeal, brownie was terrible, my 12 years old daughter’s first brownies were top chef’s creation to compare to what they serve in this cafe.
Day 4 at Sea. We have made reservations for breakfast with characters 2 month prior to cruise. There are limited seats for this and you have to reserve them prior to your cruise arrival. The breakfast starts at 8 am. We came to dining room at 8 am and were seated away from the stage behind the wall which completely blocked the view of the stage and characters. When I complained I was told that they can only sit 100 people and made reservations for 200 people. I was also informed that people by the stage came to breakfast at 7 am. So when RCCL tells you that spaces are limited and you need to make reservation and be there at certain time, it means just come an hour early and they will put you ahead of people who actually followed the rules.
The whole idea of RCCL characters at Sea is so lame; they have total of 6 characters on board with random hours and limited exposure. There are 3 characters total at breakfast. If you are a parent and you want to give Disney experience to your kids, please take a Disney cruise, do not cut corners. I will not be explaining in details the difference, but it is more profound then night and day.
The decks were packed again with kids; people, lines, spilled drinks, food and ice cream on the floors everywhere, sale carts on every corner, button pushers (kids) on all elevators. The only positive this day was GREAT production show with very talented singers and dancers, and The Quest game show with cruise director as host. Again no music, no dancing, no singers, no strings, no quartets, no acapella, no duets, no jazz, no ballroom dancing, no performers – first cruise out of over 25 cruises when we could not find a place to dance or to sit down get a drink and listen to a performance.
Last day – disembarkation. WOW! First you walk the length of the ship to get your luggage, then you walk some more with luggage to get to customs, and then you walk 2 lengths of the ship with luggage to get to car pickup lines. You get all the exercise you need for that week by trying to get off the ship.