We boarded the ship after standing in line for over an hour. The check in staff was friendly and efficient although the porter asked for an additional tip and surprise surprise, one of our bags did not make it to our room. The two staff members standing at the door did not welcome us or even acknowledge that we had come onboard.
It became very apparent to us very quickly that this was going to be a cruise to remember. Not once did any of the staff we passed by in the hallways say hello or welcome onboard. Our room attendant was kind and did her job, however, we were offended by the religious letter she left in our room on our last night with a tip envelope.
Let me share with you what happened to us when we arrived in Belize City. We took the tender to the port which we were later told is owned by Royal Caribbean and Diamond International. We were ushered to a door that had an exit sign since we wanted to tour the local area, admire the Creole architecture and visit the local market. Once through the first exit door, we had to go through another exit door that basically threw us to the lions. We were surrounded by a hoard of locals waving cardboard pictures of tours and taxi services. They were yelling at us and at each other and when we tried to walk away they swarmed around us and continued to yell and scream. We were finally able to run through a gate that was opening to allow buses and taxis out of the port. The gate operator even yelled at us and told us to get back out onto the street but gave up when we protested. We sat at a bar on the pier, told our story to anyone who would listen before returning to the ship. Back onboard, guest services laughed and told us that we should have gone on a tour. The representative also stated that she hears the same story all the time and if Royal Caribbean would listen to them they would not dock in Belize in the future. Incidentally, it took 35 minutes of calling guest services to get anyone to pick up the telephone.
Our next stop was in Cozumel where we decided to purchase an excursion to avoid a repeat of Belize. We opted for the snorkel and glass bottom kayak tour. This tour was a complete and utter rip off to say the least. We were bused ten minutes from the ship to a makeshift beach and the snorkeling was absolutely pathetic. I have seen more fish in a tank at our local Japanese restaurant. The guide apologized and claimed that hurricane Wilma destroyed the reef in November 2005. He said he will never forget that day but apparently he has since hurricane Wilma occurred in October 2005. We were told that a fresh fruit buffet would be provided, however, if it did exist it was gone by the time we got back onto the makeshift beach. The glass bottom kayaks had seen better days and we struggled to see the ocean floor out of them since they were basically beaten up acrylic boats. We did not see any fish through the kayaks, the reason given was we looked like sharks so all the fish went away! If there was an opportunity to beg for a tip, these guys took advantage of it and after twenty minutes of snorkeling less than twenty feet from shore and a 30 minutes kayak ride most of it being told how much we should tip the guides, we were done. The Wi-Fi they told us would be available only worked if you stood near the road away from the makeshift beach. After another plead for tips, we were put back in a bus and a few minutes later we were back at the pier.
This entire cruise was at best Low Budget. From the staff, to the food, to the entertainment and the ports of call. All I have to say is this was my first Royal Caribbean cruise and in future it will be blue ships for me!