It pains me to write this because our experiences on RCI have been so positive in the past. We had a good time, because we were determined to do so, and because we met some lovely fellow passengers who made our days wonderful. But the Independence is apparently charting her own zany course outside RCI territory as we know it.
The service on this ship is broken. They don’t get it, and they don’t want to. I’ll be writing RCI directly with 11 specific examples of really bad service, but here are a few for this review. 1. The fridge in our room was hot inside, and when we reported it to our attendant, she told us nothing could be done and instructed us to call room service to order daily ice delivery (despite the card in the cabin telling us to ask the room attendant for ice). Huh. She delegated the problem to us and room service! 2. In the Schooner Bar, while the Trivia game was underway, we took a vacant table on the periphery and were ignored by the waiter and the bartender (who were watching Trivia) for ten minutes. When I approached the bartender to place an order, he looked annoyed that I had interrupted him. 3. As we were purchasing an item from an RCI kiosk, the attendant complained his replacement was way overdue. He served us politely, then said, “Thank you. As you can see, I work with idiots.” Indeed, he does.
The activities under the apparent stewardship of Joff were sparse and generally poor. Since when does watching a towel-folding or port sales pitch video on the TV in my room constitute a mention in the Compass as an actual activity? Not to mention the many wrinkle-reducing and teeth-whitening demos designed to get me to purchase spa products and services, which were listed as activities in the Compass? Strip away all the junk from the, you-know, actual activities in the Compass, and we were left with the occasional Trivia, dance lesson, and belly-flop. Round that out with a Compass listing of all the bands and shows, and bob’s your Uncle Joff, we’re done! With three sea days on this eight-day cruise, we were doing a lot of snoozing and reading. My sincere apologies to Dan Dan the Party man. I sometimes found you over the top, but at least there was something going on when you were on the ship.
The food hit some real highs (the duck, lobster, lamb, prime rib, crème brule were very good). And many recycled leftovers-cum-pasta lows. Don’t, please Indy chef, ever think people don’t know the difference between packaged mashed potatoes and the real thing – they do. As for skimping out on the packaged butter and giving us a bowl of yesterday’s butter near the bread in the Windjammer – is that hygienic? I’m not eating it, thanks. Three separate nights of the waiters dancing and singing in the MDR was excessive. One is enough to guilt people into tipping. Three is just, I dunno, did Joff tell you to do that so he could list it as an Activity? On a positive MDR note, our waiter and assistant, Avdesh and Dejon were superlative, sparkling stars in the dark Indy sky.
One more note: Of the 4,000-odd passengers on this trip, about 2,000 were very old seniors. I’m a senior myself, but a lot of these folks were cruising while having difficulty standing. They were wall- walkers, or even less-able. This huge demographic changed the culture on the ship. You could not get anywhere without a scooter, walker, or large cluster blocking the way.
We did have a good time.
The ports were very nice, our dinner companions were the best, our M & M group were fun, the weather was mostly good, and we had a great mother and grown-up daughter time together. I have two more cruises booked on RCI in 2014. If the service, the food, and the activities are this shabby on either of them, however, I’ll be voting with my feet right onto another line.