April Anniversary Cruise
We have been on-board for about 24 hours now, and while we are far from being experts on the subject, the joint opinion is that we are not impressed. It is a cruise, so it's not that we are miserable by any stretch, but not blown away by anything. Our first cruise was last October and was on the mid-size Carnival Glory. We are sailing Carnival's Fantasy (a smaller ship) in October of 2014, so when the opportunity came to get another trip in this year, we wanted to try something different. A bigger ship, at a time when there would be more children onboard, was not really the goal, but going on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas won the chance due to all that the ship had to offer. I don't feel that we were expecting too much, but we were expecting what differences we did find would be positive ones. So far, that just has not been the case.
First, and probably something that I will be more cautious about in the future, is the amount of limitations that are created by passenger size. I am a little under 6 foot tall and I weigh about 300 pounds. While I know I'm a big guy, I am far from the biggest person on this ship. I have been squeezed by the armrests on the seating in the main theatre, the Windjammer restaurant, and even to some degree in the main dining room. There seems to be very little option for bigger people. I specifically searched for chairs without arms with no luck. The shower is quite tight as well. i appreciate that the shower curtain has been replaced by a door that doesn't cling to you, but banging it every time you try to raise your arms isn't much of a trade-up. I know I need to loose weight, I don't need reminded several times a day. This was not an issue on the Glory. I am going to check into it on the upcoming cruise. I want to see if it is related to ship age, or cruise line. Our last cruise, we thought of several friends and relatives who would have enjoyed cruising very much, but with some of them being mobility challenged, it has me questioning accessibility as well. Research results - The refit and more recent Carnival boats have couch type seating in the theatre and chairs without arms in the dining areas. For those needing, handicap seating is located mid-theatre as there are no steps to navigate. So, our trip for October is in the clear.
I have read a few reviews over the past several months that talk about a general lack of caring or customer service on various ships and most seem to blame it on the pre-paid gratuity option. I'll fight that by agreeing that I have seen that attitude, but where I have seen it is from the people who wouldn't be getting gratuities. The volume on our television could not (still can't, actually) be adjusted. Some channels are quite loud, others inaudible. The buttons on the set don't work at all for anything and the remote only turns it on and changes channel. In calling guest services, we were told that maintenance was closed but someone would be able to check on that first thing in the morning. I understand that it was almost midnight, and I had a relatively minor issue, but with 4300 passengers, should maintenance ever be 'closed'? It is also now 2:15p the next day and still nothing has been checked. Our room steward said she would bring a different remote back in the evening for us, but I would have thought someone would have checked on something by now. Update: at about 5:00p, after another call, a nice guy from maintenance showed up and re-booted (?) our television. That fixed the problem.
Another issue that has arisen is when trying to call room service last evening. I was on hold from 10:30p until 11:45p and still never got anyone to answer. Thinking I may have had an issue with the pre-programmed number in the phone or something I should have done differently, I mentioned it at the guest services desk on the way back from walking down to the Promanade Cafe and getting some sandwiches and cookies. The response at guest services was, "that happens sometimes." I fought the urge to say out loud "it shouldn't and you should care enough to fix it". The cookies were also hard as rocks from being over-baked. Post-cruise update - Room service was an issue the entire trip. Food was great, when it arrived. We had delivery from room service ordered prior to 11pm each evening and had an average wait time of a hour and forty minutes for the 4 nights. The latest arriving just prior to 2am, a full 3 hours after ordering. The cookies never got better... hockey pucks would have been easier to bite into.
Negatives done. My wife and I are different from many cruisers. I noticed that most seem to operate on the same eat and nap schedule as we do, we just don't care to be out in the sun for our naps. Because of this, we didn't really notice that the ship was crawling with kids other than during one show when a younger one got fussy and his Mom took him to the back of the theatre. There were parts of the ship we didn't see, so having a boat so large maybe isn't necessary either. We enjoyed decorating cupcakes and the various trivia games around the ship. It was nice to not have to travel through the casino to get to the other end of the boat unless we wanted to. Having 2 lower levels and 2 upper levels to navigate the length of the ship was nice. Decorations were great, photographers nice and informative without being pushy, and it was in general, a very nice cruise. I'm sure someone will complain about how long it took to disembark, but that wasn't a problem that I can see was RC's fault.
In summary, this was a fine cruise. I was curious to see if our first Royal Caribbean cruise was going to top our first Carnival cruise and have to say that I was a bit surprised that it didn't. The things that have my wife and I leaning towards Carnival may be unique to us. We liked the more basic everyday choices on the dinner menu (my wife is not as adventurous as I am when ordering) and the previously mentioned seating situations are the biggest reasons that RC may not be for us. Very nice ship, in general very nice staff.