Hubby and I are a married couple in our late 20's with no kids.
This was our first cruise ever and unfortunately it was a disappointment. Whilst nothing went majorly wrong, like Chinese water torture the small irritations added up to an overall unsatisfactory experience.
- Embarkation was great. We arrived quite early and were onboard quickly. Although it was very chaotic, it was an organized chaos with lots of staff to direct you in the right direction.
- Ship is clean and well kept considering its age and years of service
- Room attendant was great! Could not do enough for us and made very cute towel animals
- Main dining room and windjammer wait staff all very attentive. We appreciated their hard work greatly!
- International ice show was fantastic. Very daring considering it was a rocky day at sea! Highlight show of the cruise
- Smell of sewerage in our corridor on embarkation and debarkation day (Deck 6, port). It came into our stateroom on the first day and caused some dry retching. Lucky we had a balcony to get some fresh air. This issue was resolved soon after but returned on the final day.
- Poor quality and variety of food both in main dining and windjammer. I understand food taste is selective but I found many dishes oversalted and overbuttered to make up for a lack of genuine flavour. Also, menu items were often repeated or not available (world wide snail shortage? why not just leave the item off the menu?). The kitchen had difficulties with getting the fries really crispy both in the windjammer and at Johnny rockets. But the hashbrowns and onion rings were great so it was hit and miss.
- Headliner entertainers were cheesy. Living up to the 'cruise ship comedian' reputation in a bad way. Again, this could be just our subjective tastes as many appeared to enjoy the shows and gave the performers a standing ovation
- Very odd maintenance schedule: As this was our first cruise and there was a day of scenic cruising through the waterways of New Zealand, we splurged and booked a balcony stateroom for the express purpose of having a quiet place to admire the views. Unfortunately RCI decided that maintenance of rust spots had to be done the day before meaning we couldn't access our balcony until many hours into the sailthrough whilst the repairs dried. I understand that maintenance is crucial but rust is unlikely to get worse drastically over the next 1-2 days and on an 11 day cruise with many port days why would you choose to do it so at time when the balcony is most needed?
- Management had a "The customer is always wrong attitude": again this is not directed at our stateroom attendant, wait staff and other hands on staff around the ship were fantastic. they couldn't do enough to help make our trip comfortable. However the same cannot be said about the people in charge.
We went to the main dining room at the allocated time to change our dining reservation but there was no one there. So we walked up to the next level of the dining room and asked the my time dining staff if they could do it. They said we needed to go downstairs to which we replied there was no one there. They did not believe us. We had to repeat this several times and to their manager who also did not believe us. He sighed and led us downstairs... only to see that indeed there was no one there. Only then did we get help with our reservation.
Also, I have a food sensitivity that means I can't consume corn syrup. On the first day I asked my windjammer server if the lemonade contained corn syrup. he did not know so brought his manager who told me (very slowly like i was a child) that 'it is made from concentrate'. which did not answer my very specific question about whether it contained corn syrup. He then told me it was made from concentrate and sugar and nothing else. This didnt seem right to me but I tasted the lemonade and it seemed too sweet so i finally i asked to see the syrup container and the second ingredient was corn syrup! All up this took a good 15 minutes. It was very frustrating to try and get my point across that I wasnt just being fussy- it is a medical issue.
Another incident was with guest relations. We wanted to cancel a Portofinos reservation that we had made and paid for prior to booking. We asked for a refund but said that if this would be a problem then we'd just go to the dinner. The lady at guest relations casually said 'Fine'. When we enquired again to make sure specifically that our money would be refunded she said 'Yes, its all taken care of'. Of course it was not refunded and we got a surprise on debarkation day. So back to guest relations to sort it out. Firstly they tried to tell us we had not pre-paid. Then they said that we should have been checking our onboard account every night, like it was OUR responsibility to catch THEIR mistake, and finally that since it was day of debarkation there was nothing they could do as the head office in the USA were closed. Again extremely frustrating as we had said from the beginning that we were happy to just go to the dinner to avoid this specific issue and yet here we are.
The finally incident also involved guest relations- i had to ring them one evening to request barf bags for my very unwell husband. 20 mins later, no barf bags. Hubby was vomiting into the bag we packed our shoes in because he did not want to throw up inside the stateroom or in the toilet/shower to save our poor stateroom attendant the mess, this was a precarious situation as the plastic bag may have leaked. I rang again to which i was told- 'he just found it, it's coming' no apology or anything. Finally after a good 30 minute wait the bags finally turned up. Surely Voyager is required to supply barf bags regularly? Why did it take so long and also I was stunned at the attitude of the desk. No concern whatsoever about my husband's wellbeing. It felt like they were very dismissive of my concerns.
This was truly the most disappointing part of the trip- the attitude of the people in charge. There were lots of other little things too numerous to mention which all added up to be a very unpleasant and stressful trip. It just felt that we had to work so hard to get every problem rectified whilst the management just shrugged their shoulders and resisted as much as they could.
I'd like to think that our experience was the exception and not the norm. My person theories are
1. This was a predominantly Australian cruise with mostly Australian passengers who are not RCI's main guest population so they don't care as much about our experience. Hence the disorganization, poorly planned activities etc.
2. Voyager is due for major refurb in a few months and they are more focused on the future than the present. Hence staff are just over it and hence have a 'lets get through this' attitude rather than a 'lets make this the best cruise ever' attitude
3. Australians do not have a tipping culture. The staff know that they will not be getting as many tips and therefore dont care to provide the same service. (Again, this did not seem true of the staff we came into contact with on the ground level like servers so what gives?)
Needless to say, I am frustrated and will be discussing this with RCI when I ring them regarding our Portofino's refund. Thanks again for wading through this rambling review. I understand that not everyone would have had our experience and I truly hope that we are the exception and not the rule.