After tons of snow and freezing cold weather my family and I were more then ready to warm up in the Bahamas sunshine. Our group consisted of 10 people ranging in ages from 9 to 70 years old. Were we celebrating my parents 45th anniversary, so my bother and I treated my parents to their first cruise.
EMBARKATION: Was a complete mess. I was prepared for it from reading other cruise critic reviews but you don't understand the full chaos until you're stuck in the cruise traffic jam. (Think I95 during rush hour in a major city then add a major accident into the mix...yeah it was that bad) They say they are building up the terminal for Quantum of the Seas....where??? ... I didn't see any construction going on. Instead after waiting in line for an eternity you drop off your luggage and passengers at this oversized army tent like structure. (Not to mention there are passengers that are still getting off the ship waiting to be picked up in the same area and cars and taxis cutting across lanes to get to them) Where the rest of your traveling party wait in the cold for you to squeeze your way back into traffic, drive in between two decrypted buildings to park at the on site lot at $19 a day. Then you walk back to the tent building and cross through all the traffic where you then begin to hunt for the rest of your traveling party. From there you move to a building where you go through security. Then wait on a different line to check in. Being that we had priority boarding the check in line went fairly smoothly. This is where our real troubles begin. We had 5 staterooms all crossed reference with each other all in a row. Only 2 of the seas pass cards had the dining information printed on it. Both were children, one had traditional 6pm seating (ok great that's what we had requested) his 9yr old sister had late seating 8:30pm. Obviously someone made a mistake but no worries we thought well have it corrected at the dining room when we board. (more of that later) After taking our first family photo of the cruise we waited in a large holding room waiting to board the shuttle bus. The PA system wasn't loud enough to really power over the mass of people talking so I had to really focus to hear what boarding numbers we're bring called. After about 45 minutes of standing we were able to board the bus. The ride over was less then 5 minutes. We could have walked over to the ship faster!
FIRST IMPRESSION OF THE SHIP: She is huge. I know other reviews have said she run down and outdated. Quite the contrary. She is modern sleek, clean and tastefully decorated. Lots of warm wood tones throughout the ship. You really have to look extra hard to find a stain on the carpet. Some staterooms have flat screens and others have tube TVs. But who goes on a cruise to watch the 5 channels of TV anyways?
DINNER RESERVATIONS: We headed straight for the main dining room to fix our seating. My paper works says we are confirmed traditional 6pm dining. We aren't a fan of MY TIME as you get different waiters every night which dampens the quality of service. And having such a large group it was the one time a day where everyone would show up and we could chat and regroup. We were told that there was nothing available. That we would have to show up for MYTIME at 5:30pm to have a chance for such a large group to sit together. I just don't understand how I can have confirmed dining but yet not have it and how they can split up a single stateroom into different dining times and to top it off put a younger under age child by herself in a totally different time and dining location...or not assign any dining at all... I guess they thought we were going to eat at the buffet all day every day...it baffles me!
STATEROOM 9345: is an inside cabin. Small, but adequate for a 7 day sailing. She has a new flat screen TV (still had sticker on it) sofa, coffee table, dresser with storage, vanity mirror and chair. Our king bed configuration made it hard to walk around the sides of the bed. Room has a slight vibration, nothing too major.
I had purchased through Royal Caribbean website site the anniversary stateroom decorations and cake for my parents stateroom. It was supposed to be in place when we arrived. Nothing....spoke to room steward she stated she'll have them up and ready after muster drill....NOTHING...spoke to her again…after dinner was told...NOTHING....to cut a long story shut and after multiple trips to the front desk and different excuses and different times that I was told that they were supposed to be in place and having to prove I purchased them (bring all receipts) finally after 9 pm did they fess up and tell me they ran out of decorations.....cricket....cricket...Really they wasted my entire first day I spent it at the front desk going back and forth when all they could have said was miss we ran out in the first place.
My other issue was my room key. This little thing was nothing but a nuisance for me. It didn't work at all....I could get into my room and I couldn't purchase anything on board. Not even obtain the soda or virgin drinks from my royal refreshment package. I was told that I didn't exist. I sure existed when they gladly took my money to purchase this cruise. I existed at check in at the pier....why not now. It was so frustrating having to wait online at the front desk day after day wishing they would just fix my card already...but after every new card they issued me....it didn't work. (Grrrrrrrr). By day two I was at boiling point. I tell you the only people I got to know on this cruise was everyone that worked at the front desk. After so much frustration I asked them if they can duplicate my husband card since his was working and I'll be him for the rest of the cruise...of course they couldn't do that. They rather stare at my face every day.
OBC: what's the point of evening having on board credit when they not going to honor it. Once again my fellow cruisers bring all your cruise paper work of what you’re supposed to get. Glad I did but it still took a fight to even get it. I booked this cruise during a WOW Sale and I was supposed to get $100 from Royal Caribbean, $70 from my travel agent $25 for referring guest and $50 that I purchased online. Did I have any.... of course not...the way my luck has been going this cruise why would I expect that to turn out right. After calling my agent that finally amount came over but with Royal once again I had to prove that I owed this...ok by now I'm getting offended with all this proving. So much for customer service! Epic failure on Royals part. I'm supposed to be a relaxing vacation but here I am doing more "work" then I actually do at work and talking my throat dry. So once again I showed them my booking paper work and after standing there forever and after agent after agent and managers looking at my documents they finally put all amounts into pending....pending what’s that supposed to mean? I had to still wait till the next day after they confirm this amount with corporate. Ugh frustrating...the thought of possibly having to spend time at this desk again the next day.
Finally after hours wasted of my vacation one of the agents said he'll refund me for my undelivered cake package. I asked for it in writing. He said he couldn't give it to me in writing. I told him my fear is that it won't go through like everything else with this cruise and I'll spend time at home of the phone with Royal with no proof that I'm even supposed to get a refund. He said he promised he'll refund me and give me free internet time on Saturday evening so I can check my card balance and see that they refund has been posted. Ok thank you, we shook hands.
PORT CANAVERAL: By the time we got to Port Canaveral warm weather and sunny skies greeted us. I'm still trying to figure out why the cruise line chooses to stop here. Yeah I get the Disney excursions but I wish they would build up the immediate area because there's nothing and I mean nothing to do around the port. With the late arrival (2pm) paying all that money to go to the theme parks which are an hour away didn't seem worth it to me. I read here on cruise critic that the Radisson hotel provides a free shuttle to the hotel and Ron Jon Surf Shop. This is not true! The "free" part isn't true; however they do provide a shuttle at $12pp. Royal charges 15pp. We opted to stay on the boat to enjoy an empty ship.
NASSAU BAHAMAS: is Nassau...I think I just been there one too many times. Only reason I only bother bout getting off the ship was because it was my parents first time there. The island was crowed as we were in port with Norwegian Sky and Royals Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas. A lot of the sidewalks are under construction which forced pedestrians to walk in the street. Yes it was scary...worse than trying to "jaywalk" in NYC.
COCO CAY: loved it. I waited till 11am to board the tender to the island. It is the perfect time to go ashore as it's just after the morning rush over and right at the start of the beach BBQ. Plenty of lounge chairs throughout the island. I even enjoyed some time swinging in the hammock. The BBQ featured hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ chicken, Ribs, rice and beans, Mac & cheese and corn on the cob. There was also fresh fruit and cookies. The kids enjoyed the water slide. At $20pp for all day use it was a great value as it kept them highly entertained. I stuck my toe in the lovely blue water however; it was way too cold to go in any further. There were a few "polar bears" out there enjoying the water.
GYM: went to the gym 5 out of the seven days. I arrived when it opened at 6am. There is a variety of equipment and a whirlpool. The whirlpool opened at around 7 am. The ladies locker room had a stream room and dry sauna. By the time I got done working out (about 7:45am) and using the sauna the gym was packed and all 20 Life Fitness treadmills taken.
SHOW: "Invitation to Dance" performed by Royal Caribbean singers and dancers and from the creators of Dancing with the Stars was a complete bore. It started off so slow I found myself nodding off by the time the music became up-tempo it was in a different language so I really couldn't get into it. Finally...English...but it was "Mumbo Number 5" followed by "She Bangs...She Bangs”.... (Enough said)
SHOW: "Tribute to the Temptations" has made my top 5 list of best shows that I've seen on cruise ship. They sounded great just like the original group. It was one big sing-along in the Palace Theater.
SHOW: "The Magic Experience of a Bob Brizendine." Is he a comedian or a magician? I don't know but he sure was great. Bob had good audience participation and interaction. Don't walk in late or you'll get singled out and greeted by the entire audience as my husband found out the hard way. It sure was funny!
SHOW: "Spirits of the Season" ice show was really enjoyable. Bring a jacket to the show as its pretty chilly inside. Entrance to the show is according to muster station so make sure you have your sea pass card handy, otherwise you'll have to wait till almost show time before you can be seated.
SHOW: "Fast Forward" performed by the Royal Caribbean singers and dancers was great. The show recreated scenes from iconic dance movies such as "Fame," "Footloose" and “Saturday Night Fever" among others. It was one great big sing-along and trip down memory lane.
SHOW: “Farewell Show” I could have spent the last evening of the cruise doing something else instead of watching the “Cruise in Review DVD,” or listening to the cruise directors. If you have seen a farewell show before then you can SKIP this one.
WASHY WASHY: after the incident a few weeks ago "washy washy" was out in full force. I didn’t mind it at all. There are plenty of hand sanitizers throughout the ship. At the Captains night he wouldn't even shakes hands with anyone instead he gave the kids "a fist pound." I found that some of the public bathrooms water ran “yellow.”
ROYAL REPLENISH PACKAGE: found this upgrade from the soda package which also included virgin drinks and specialty coffee and teas to be worth every penny spent. Starbucks coffee at the promenade café was included and I started off every day with a Carmel Frappe and ended nightly with a Tazo tea and virgin Miami Vices and CocoLocos in between. I do wish there were more soda machines placed throughout the ship. Yes I know you can always get soda from any of the bars but I did enjoy having all the different options that the machine provided. The soda cup however was a pain to carry.
THE STORM: that wasn't really a storm. The Captain made an announcement that we were headed into a thunderstorm with high winds and as a precaution all open decks were off limits. I really appreciated the advance notice that the captain gave. The ship did well during the storm, it moved and rocked a little but not to a great extent, all shows and activities still went on as planned. The storm passed relativity quickly less than an hour.
24 HOUR POOLS: if you enjoy a late night swim or dip in hot tub I recommend going at night as the pool and whirlpools are open all night and are completely empty. My husband and I enjoyed the Solarium whirlpool...we had it all to ourselves at 11pm. Then we took a refreshing dip in the empty pool. By the way the solarium pool is slightly heated to a refreshing temperature. Only one of the two main pools were heated the other felt like “Ice water” and that was evident by the amount of people packed into the one heated pool as the other was empty.
ROLLERSKATING: the one activity I was looking forward to doing had very limited open times and when I did make it there it was "closed due to poor track conditions." I was told it was closed because of water on the track. Really!!!! It was very veryyyyy little water which could have been wipe up with a napkin...SERIOUSLY.
ICE CREAM MACHINES: only one outdoors on deck 11. Otherwise you have to pay for one in the café promenade.
STUCK IN ELEVATOR: members of my family were stuck in the elevator for about 15 minutes it stopped between floors. The elevator resumed service by its self...needless to say we avoided that particular elevator for the rest of the cruise.
THE BLACKOUT: for some reason unbeknown to the passengers the ships power was loss for about 30 minutes while we were in Nassau...no explanation given.
KIDS IN ELEVATOR: there were over 1800 children onboard and I could almost swear each and everyone wanted to play in the elevator pushing alllllll the buttons or just taking up valuable space in the evaluator because for some odd reason they find it entertaining to ride up and down over and over again. Can't blame Royal however; I would like to have a little chat with their parents. (Lol)
WINDJAMMER: was exactly that jammed packed. Ok I know I went at peak times and trying to find a table for 10 proved to be difficult at best. By day 3 we figured out it was easier to find a table if you asked the "washy washy" lady at the door to help get you a table.
JONNY ROCKETS: at $4.95pp service was BEYOND SLOW! Took forever to get a milkshake and I thought they had to fly to land to catch the chicken for my sandwich then fly back to cook it on the ship. It was delicious when it finally came but where was my chili cheese fries? I never received it but it managed to make it on the bill.
DEMBARKATION: was not as bad as I previously read...but still not great. We signed up mid-week for "self-assist" debarkation and we given group "I." That morning we ate breakfast in the main dining room at 6:30 am an enjoyed the view of NYC harbor as we docked. We went back to our stateroom gathered our luggage and headed for the waiting area which was on deck 4 of the main dining room. At exactly 8:30 group "I" was the first group called to depart. We headed to the elevators which were manned by a crew member to send the elevators priority to deck 1. If you are able to drag your luggage down the flight of stairs do it as it's much faster than waiting for the elevator. Once on deck 1 you scan your sea pass card and let out a big sad sigh as you leave the ship. Then you wait in a covered outdoor area for the shuttle bus. I think the seats should be removed on the bus and make it standing only, that way they can fit more people and luggage inside. We were able to board the second bus. Being that we were the first group called off the ship there was no wait to get through customs. We waited at the same passenger drop off location as embarkation for 2 members of our traveling party to fetch the cars. By the time we were loaded up the luggage and backed out the parking space it was 8:45am.
My advice would be to debark EARLY as I could see how that whole process could back up and cause delays.
UPDATE ON REFUND: I received my refund on March 3rd for the undelivered stateroom decorations and cake.
All in all I had a great cruise. Love the ship. My parents enjoyed their first cruise as well and are ready to book another one.