Overall, this was a terrible cruising experience. We have been on at least seven cruises with various cruise lines including Cunard, Carnival, Disney and one previous cruise with RCCL. After this experience, we are very unlikely to ever cruise on Royal Caribbean again.
Some examples of what we experienced, in no particular order:
• The experience of getting on and off the ship was awful, especially at Co Co Cay. It was a complete disaster; we have never experienced anything like it on a cruise before. What added to the frustration was when I tried to tell a member of the cruise director staff (Amy T.) that a contributing factor was that the elevators were opening on Deck One, allowing people to cut in line -- she was dismissive and sarcastic with me (we were told the elevators were programmed to stop at deck 2, but after waiting on the 2nd deck for an hour, when we finally made it to the 1st deck people were exiting the elevator and getting straight into the line- we saw a few people almost resort to fist fights over this – never great to have your kids view this type of behavior) We later found out that the line at the forward tender station was practically non-existent, while the line at the aft station stretched up the second deck. Plenty of people, including us, were in line for OVER an hour. While the crew, with radios in their hands, just watched, and never once mentioned there was another exit from the ship.
• Information in the Compass was often at odds with what the crew told us. An example was the question of whether there was to be one or two formal nights during the cruise. During the “first” formal night our waiter informed us there would only be one formal night, we expressed our surprise, and he said we should double-check with Guest Relations – we did, and they confirmed there would be only the one formal night. (On other lines, the entire week is explained at the start of the cruise.) GR told us there would be only one formal night – on Sunday night. Then on Friday morning we read in the Compass that that evening there would be another formal night. Again, we approached GR; this time they concluded that the Compass must be right, and there were indeed two formal nights. A few minutes later, when we returned to our stateroom, we received a call from GR telling us the Compass was incorrect. That night would not be a formal night. But how do you suppose most people were dressed that evening?
• We paid for the premium drink plan. I have one drink: a gin and tonic – with lime. The ship decided to not put fruit in any cocktails. I appreciate the desire to make cleanliness the priority, as I think was the main motivation behind this, but I was given several conflicting reasons about why I could not ever have a lime with my drink. Meanwhile, we were always able to get lemon for our water in the dining room. This was a constant point of frustration and irritation, especially given what I had paid for the drink plan.
• The entertainment on the last night of the cruise was awful. While I cannot name the entertainer (Jeff something I think), it was more than just not entertaining; it was rude, crude, and uncomfortably off-color. Indeed, there were plenty of children in the audience, including our pre-adolescent girls. This, after the cruise director talked it up the night before and implied that the entertainment would be family friendly.
• The various staff did not seem to follow their own “rules”. Our girls were very excited to go ice skating on Saturday. We showed up 15 minutes prior to the 1:45 session (it’s supposed to be first-come first-served 40 skaters per session) only to be told that not only was that session already closed, but they had already given out the slots for the remaining 3 sessions for the day, only “standby” was available. There was never any communication that we should have showed up in the morning and signed up for a slot during the day – many people in line were very angry.
Overall, most of the passengers we chatted with were very unhappy with how things were handled on this cruise, the staff were clearly “going through the motions” and were tired and cranky. The only WOW in this vacation was “WOW I can’t believe I spent all this money for such a bad vacation!”