Things you need to consider before booking with Royal Caribbean
We have cruised several times with several different cruise ship lines over the past 15 years. We actually cruised on the Royal Navigator of the Seas in 2006 so this was our second time aboard this very ship. I want everyone to know before you book your trip that we have NEVER been told NO so many times aboard ship! It was such a different experience from all of our other trips that we won't likely cruise any more.
The new trend is to have everyone purchase drink cards, not just the usual 'soda pop cards' but non-alcoholic cards and alcohol cards as well. What this means is that the line already has everyone's money so they don't have very many attendants walking about asking you if you would like a drink brought to you. You now get to go stand in line and wait 20 minutes to get a drink from the bar. AND, if you purchased one of their drink cards you are told that you can only get ONE drink and that you must wait a minimum of 10 minutes to get back in line to purchase another. We don't drink alcohol so this rule wasn't just for hard drinkers. I couldn't get two bottles of water to drink after working out in the gym. What a joke. I actually was not asked if I wanted a drink of anything for two solid days. That is not what the shipboard service is suppose to be like.
We also found the service in the formal dining to be changed as well...keep in mind we were on this very ship several years prior and we know what the standard service experience should be. We were sat down and given menus and expected to get our dinner orders submitted ASAP. We asked to start with drinks (non-alcololic for us) and the waiter actually became irritated. We ended up drinking water and hurrying thru our dinner. Second night he attempted to do the same and we told him no. We insisted that he go find a bar attendant for us so we could order drinks prior to placing our food orders. Our waiter did weird things like giving menus to two men at our table and not giving menus to the ladies for several minutes. Things like that shouldn't happen with upscale dining. Also, the waiter wouldn't bring me a cappuccino coffee with my dessert stating that my drink card did not provide for after dinner coffee. I ended up standing for 30 minutes in the service desk line the next day to get that resolved. So stupid that the employees of the ship don't know their own rules. Every bar tender had a different excuse as to why I couldn't receive a free drink with my drink card as well as the amount of time I had to wait to order a second one. The only high light was the room steward who took great care of us during our trip and one particular waiter that came to us each evening in the dining room (starting on day 3 ! but that wasn't his fault). Those two men were the only people who made our ship board experience special...everyone else acted like the passengers were just in their way. Also note that if you purchase the drink card that they charge you for each day you are aboard the ship; however, they will not serve you any drinks on the last day as they state that the cards no longer work on the day that you disembark even though you paid for that day! I don't know yet if all ship lines are moving to this type of service; but my guess is that they are...just like anytime dining is now the standard fare option on most ships too now. New cruisers will not realize that they are receiving substandard service but past cruisers know what the service standards were and will definitely be unhappy with what is being given now. I would rather stay in a hotel and eat in a regular restaurant and get up and go order my own drink from a bar without paying many thousands of dollars that we pay for cruising. I use to think the extra costs were worth it because of the special service that you received onboard. Not any more...