Much room for improvement: Freedom of the Seas Cruise Review by overthecruisetop
Overall Member Rating
Much room for improvement
Destination: Eastern Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
About five weeks prior to boarding, I communicated via email with the dining room staff and indicated what type of table placement we were interested in. I received an email back that included a screen shot about the table placement. I noticed the table was near a wall so I asked if it would be crowded and if the wait staff would have enough room to maneuver about the space. I was told the "wall" was only a "half wall" and there would be plenty of space. When we boarded the ship, our seapass card did not show the table number I was given in the email, so we went to the dining room with an open mind and wanted to see where the new table was and if it would meet our needs. We were shocked to find the table on an entirely different floor and right next to a huge servers station. It was also in the very back of the dining room. We spoke with one of the men at the podium More and he was unable to help us. He called the female dining manager for that deck and she seemed unwilling to help us. I produced the emails and the screen shot and she again said she did not want to inconvenience the other guests and she didn't see what the problem was. Only after quite a bit of discussion did she relent and called the guests and after one hour of our time, she stated she had resolved "most of the problem" and we could have our original table. This was a very poor way to start off our cruise, as we were looking forward to the Sail Away party, and here we were wasting time on a problem that should have never existed. We were not offered anything for RCI mistake, not a glass of wine, or anything at all!!!! And I might add the table we reserved prior to arrival did not have a "half wall", but a full wall and our chairs were jammed up against it. If one person needed to get up, you literally had to climb over the other people. And the opposite side of the table was back up against another table of ten, so the wait staff only had a narrow path to maneuver and was constantly bumping into the back of our chairs.
The next day, RCI made two mistakes. We were on CoCo Cay and three of our group had made reservations for the jet ski's. RCI had no record of that either. And this reservation was made by a different person than the dining table reservation was made by. After much discussion, they somehow were able to "find" the reservation and honor it!!! Also, another member of our group bought the drink package and was charged for seven days, not six. She pointed this out to the clerk and, again, the clerk told her she was wrong, but finally realized her mistake and corrected it.
So far, five people out of ten in our group had problems!!!
Two people made a reservation on board for an excursion on St. Thomas. They specifically told the clerk what excursion and the correct number for it. She booked them on the wrong excursion and printed off the wrong tickets. Only when a third person in our group decided to join in, did the mistake come to light. The new clerk realized the mistake and make all the corrections, etc!!!
Two other people had booked the Tiki Boat excursion on St. Thomas and were told to go to Crypt at a certain time. They were met by a female staff member who said she usually works in child care. She held a sign up and everyone followed her. Right before they stepped off the ship, she stepped aside and stayed on board. The group was not off the ship and had no idea where to go or what to do. All the other tour groups had staff still holding up their signs, but this group was abandoned. They all were frustrated and asked another group leader what to do. She told them to look for someone with a light blue shirt. Really? There were three huge ships in port that day, and you want them to look for a light blue shirt. After about ten minutes, the Tiki Boat arrived and the group walked to it and was able to board. RCI should teach their staff how to do a job from start to finish and not leave a group stranded.
As if that wasn't enough, the ship was completely sold out. I think it was oversold. So you have approx. 3600 customers on board, and you have approx. 100 chairs at the adult pool??? The venues for many of the trivia games was at the Schooner Bar, which sat maybe 60 people at best. The other venues had the same problem...the place for Family Feud sat a couple hundred people, etc. Poor poor planning on the cruise ships part. Do not try to stuff a bunch of people on a boat and then not have proper public space for them. Everyone of these places were packed with people standing, sitting on the floor, and crowded the place. And the plan is to add even more cabins........that is the reason I will never go on this ship again. It is already crowded, and you are going to add more people?
Also, the cruise line is so cheap that if you win a game, you get a pen or a key chain. Really? What about a free drink or some internet time? I was not overly concerned about the prizes, but even the staff member made jokes about the crappy prizes.
The guest service area is understaffed, often times with two people working. Again, you have almost 4000 people on board.....you need more staff. The excursion desk had two people most of the time, sometimes three........again....people have questions, need advice, etc. Have more staff!!!!!! At dinner we would be there at least 20 minutes before the drink person came to us. We tipped him on top of the 15% mandatory gratuity thinking that would help get better service. But it never did. We like wine with our dinner and we were usually half way thru before the first glass arrived. Then the guy would disappear and we could not get Bailey's with our coffee. Very poor service from that person.....who was nice enough, just spread too thin.
I plan to find a ship that higher staff/customer ratio's and has more space in the public venues. Apparently for RCI, it is all about cramming the ship as full as possible. They have no regard for the comfort of the passengers. Whoever designed the ship did not take into account the public venues and the fact that they need to be bigger and have more seating.
The staff works hard and tries to do a good job. I think most of the problems are management and their goal to turn as big a profit as possible. Less