My husband and I have been cruising for many years, and our favorites are Holland America and Celebrity, with honorable mention for Ncl, Princess, and Carnival. This was our First Royal Caribbean cruise, and after booking the D1 category, the most expensive cruise we have ever booked. Unfortunately, I wish I could say the experience was worth the cost.
To begin with, we drove from Arizona, which was only a wonderful 5 hour trip. We parked at 5 Star, which is right across the street from the pier. When we sailed on Celebrity only a month prior, the cost was $12 per day. But now one month later, it cost us $15 per day. Arriving at 11 AM made embarkation a breeze. Our Cabin D1 was larger than other balcony categories, and we found it sufficient for our needs.
The ship is absolutely beautiful. Probably the most impressive we have been on. The glass elevators were absolutely wonderful. Our cabin stewardess was Rhonda from Trinidad, and she was also fabulous. We had request late seating, small table. Were assigned a table for 10. After cruising so many years, we knew to approach the Dining Room Captain asap to make a change. I can't say he was very nice in his demeanor to us; however, he did reluctantly agree to assigning us a table for 4. I must say I have NEVER seen so many huge tables of 10 in a cruiseship dining room. However, I will say that by the 5th night, many of the tables were more than half empty because so many people were unhappy with the cuisine in the dining room.
With reference to that issue, I will say that after the 1st night, I thought the food on this ship was going to be equal to Carnival. (Sorry for the insult, Carnival.) However, by the 3rd evening, I revised my opinion; Carnival was much, much better than what was being served in the dining room on the Radiance. Since this was our first Royal Caribbean cruise, and knowing that we love Celebrity's cuisine, we figured being operated by the same corporation, we couldn't possible go wrong. What a misconception!!!! First of all, the beef was absolutely awful!!!! They must be buying it from Mexico. After spending over $6,000 for a 2 week cruise, we only had lobster once and I wonder if they could spare it. Overall, the preparation of the food was so bad. Maple syrup was watered down. Pancakes were like hockey pucks. Way too much herb seasoning on everything meat. Size of shrimp was pathetic, the rare times they even offered it. Pasta was ordered and always delivered almost raw without any of the sauce described in the menu. To eat hamburgers and hot dogs for lunch was certainly not what we had bargained for on this expensive cruise. However, at least they were edible.
Passengers who were Platinum and Diamond agreed that they have never had such a disappointing dining experience before on RCI. I must say, however, that our waiter, Vikram, was the best ever. In addition, I do believe we had the best entertainment ever on this ship. I guess you could say it was the worst of times and it was the best of times.
What really irked was the fact that we couldn't get any bathrobes!!! Shame on RCI!!!! We became very friendly with Platinum members who also couldn't get bathrobes. What a joke!!! Even Carnival gives 2 to a cabin. As for customer service at the Guest Relations, there wasn't any good customer service at all on this ship. All of the waiters at breakfast and lunch were totally uncaring or incompetent or both. Even the ones in the Windjammer were as unpleasant as I have ever seen on a ship.
Hawaii was as usual, wonderful. Although I will say pulling into Hilo on the first stop is a huge disappointment to those who had never been to Hawaii. Why don't the powers that be, eliminate Hilo and reinstate Kauai?? Duh??? Embarkation took forever because some non US passengers did not register with immigration in a timely fashion. I do believe the ship's management should have gone to their cabins instead of announcing their names a million times. Thought we would never start disembarking.
All in all, we did meet wonderful new cruise buddies from Boston; and all of us did have a wonderful time. Would we sail RCI again - NO NEVER!!!! How such a beautiful ship could have such a problem kitchen is beyond my comprehension. Is anyone doing any checking up on the comment cards? Also, their level of service also leaves a lot to be desired.
Another major issue we had with this cruise, was that there was no dancing before dinner for people assigned to the second seating. Celebrity always has dancing before dinner for both seatings. What is wrong with the management on this ship??? If I sound so negative, it's because to have spent so much and received so little, can make a passenger bitter. Can't wait for our upcoming Celebrity cruise in October.