My wife and I have sailed on Royal Caribbean several times before and are Gold Members. Last years trip to the Western Mediterranean was amazing with a few small glitches. This years 25th anniversary cruise aboard the Explorer of the Sea to Bermuda was absolutely horrible and after speaking with other passengers, I find we were not alone. I booked this cruise as a surprise for my wife’s and I 25th anniversary. I pre-booked a 75 minute deep tissue couples massage for the evening of the 15th. I also Pre booked an anniversary dinner for 2 at Portofino restaurant on the 16th to celebrate the night and had all of the paperwork to prove it.
Upon arrival at the ship we fought through the typical Bayonne NJ traffic and in a decent amount of time made it to out stateroom. After waiting in a lounge to get to the room (6638) we were able to see our accommodations for the first time. I was surprised to see an old tube version TV instead of a newer flat screen. I was told that the More
ship would undergo a complete rehab next year and it would be upgraded at that time. Is it really so hard to take out the antiquated televisions and swap them out? I have lived with old tube TV’s my whole life so that did not bother me so much and I shrugged it off. In the bathroom was an old porcelain garbage can covered in rust. It looked terrible. The bed was still separated into twins and I requested to have them pushed into a queen. I laid down on one side and could clearly feel a ridge running down the center of my mattress where the coils had separated. If I rolled to the left I would continue to the floor. It was not a small ridge it was severe. I asked the attendant if there was possibly a pad that could be put down to soften the ridge and she stated she would look into it. I was thinking a foam egg pad which I had seen in the hallway from the previous cruise who must have had the same complaint. Instead she provided me with a pad no thicker than a bedspread. It did not help but I put up with it for 5 days. Her attitude was poor and she rarely followed through with our requests. When I returned later that evening I had to push the bed together myself. As for those cute little towel animals we found on last years cruise every evening, We got them only 2 of the 5 nights
While checking in at the dock the hard sale guys started their spiels and we bought an extra evening at the Portofino fine dining restaurant. The meal was excellent and the service first rate. For desert they brought out 2 towers of chocolate covered strawberries and various cake pieces. The dinners and massage were booked in advance with COSTCO Travel who also got us multiple ship board credits. One of which was for $50.00 dining and another each for $238.00. On day three we went to the desk and looked at our current charges. The $50 dollar credit showed up as $25.00 according to Royal Caribbean. We asked about the discrepancy and were told by Christine that if I supplied copies of my paperwork then she would straiten it out . We gave her copies that specifically stated $50. And she went to work on it. The same thing happened last year and the attendant fixed it within 15 minutes. This time however, we were told that we would need to take it up with COSCO when we got back to the United States and there is nothing more that they could do. I knew better!
On the first full day at sea we went to the pool in the solarium, which was supposed to be for adults. Multiple teens and young children were in the hot tubs and chairs were already taken with towels holding their spots, despite nobody occupying them all day. There was only one bartender at the bar and no waiters or waitresses on the deck. After waiting in line for 20 minutes, I was able to order my drink. The bartender stated he did not know where the other bartender was but mentioned they often pull them for a private party. It was the talk of the deck as many people were quite disappointed.
After a few minutes at the pool my wife and I went to the salon to confirm our spa reservation for the 15th. We have you down for a 75 minute Swedish couples massage tonight. I showed her the email from the cruise line on my phone and she looked confused. No matter, my back was on fire from the mattress so we took the reservation for tonight which meant missing our formal night dinner and photos. We arrived promptly at 8:20 PM for our 8:30 appointment. We were told to wait in the waiting room and fill out the necessary paperwork. At 8:30 we were greeted by an American speaking girl and an Asian girl who did not speak but rather nodded often which made it clear that her English was poor. After an interview discussing the areas that needed extra attention, we were led into the massage room. We were told to disrobe and cover ourselves with the sheet laying face down on the table. The window in the room went right outside to the main deck and people walking by were curiously looking into the room between the curtain and frame which had a 4 inch gap. We waited nearly 10 minutes and around 8:40 PM our massage began. It was by far the worse massage I have ever received. There was no deep tissue and I could barely feel any pressure. Before I knew what happened the girls put our hands together and rung a small bell before departing the room. My wife and I looked at each other clearly bewildered and she said to me, “Is that It?” We got dressed and went to the lobby where the attendant asked us if we enjoyed our massage. I asked her if that was a 75 minute deep tissue and she replied yes it was. I asked her the current time and she replied 9:35. I asked what time we arrived as per her computer and she replied 8:23 PM. I said to her that if we arrived at 8:23 and then had to fill out paperwork and have our counseling session before being taken to the room and waiting 10 minutes for the girls to arrive which would have made the start time somewhere around 8:40, and that it was now 9:40.PM, and we still had to get dressed before coming out here. How could that possibly add up to 75 minutes of massage. After doing the math in her head she realized a mistake had been made despite both therapists telling her they gave a 75 minute massage in our presence., she refunded our 450.00 or there about fee and charged us around 350.00 for the reduced 50 minute Swedish massage. It just ruined what was to be a nice evening.
Bermuda was great and the private beach at St. Georges called Tobacco Bay was amazing. Most of the ship crowded into the not so pink sandy beach at Horseshoe Bay. I discovered later that the trick is to go to Elbow Beach Resort hotel and proceed to the beach there. For $30.00 a person they will set you up on a beautiful beach with chairs and umbrellas and have waiters take orders for drinks and food. There are showers and restrooms also available for you.
After departing Bermuda we were once again at sea. It was our anniversary and we went back to the Portofino for our anniversary dinner that was booked in advance along with the proper notification for our silver anniversary meal. (I have the paperwork to prove it) At the end of the meal there was no singing like the other anniversary table s had and no chocolate strawberry tower like the previous visit. Just, here is you check and goodnight. I left a hand written message on the bill for the waiter about our disappointment but still left a proper tip. At 10:45 the manager called our room to apologized for the inconvenience and offered to bring up a tray of strawberries and a bottle of champagne. By now we were showered and in bed. So we declined.
If I learned one thing from this cruise is that despite having documents proving reservations and special requests that were pre paid I might add. You need to re confirm once on board. The crew on board this ship had an I don’t care and it will get fixed in rehab attitude which made me feel like I was not important. Our anniversary tarnished by the people who’s job it is to make it special. I spent nearly $4500.00 dollars on this anniversary cruise and found myself trying to fix almost everything. This is most likely the last time I sail with Royal Caribbean because of the way we were treated and the sour taste it left in our mouths. I had planned to take advantage of the discounts offered by pre-booking next years cruise on board to Alaska. Unfortunately my search to find another cruise line begins this week. Less