This was my 14th cruise on RCCL. Reason for this one was, to once sail out of San Francisco which was really wonderful. We had the best cabin, an aft Junior Suite on deck 10, next to the corner Grand Suite. Loved it. Our room steward was probably the best we ever had. Concierge service was equally excellent due to the fact that the "cocktail hour" each night was held on deck 13 in the viking crown lounge/disco due to the many diamond members on this cruise. Free drinks and the view - what more can you ask for... Maritza the concierge was wonderful and she made up for the poor finger food they served each night (the exact same every night!).
Ports were good, overall a really nice trip, just to short for my taste as I like 12 nights or longer. Now on to the "not so good".
First of all the food. The buffet was extremely boring with the same food every day. Bland, often warm instead of hot and almost no variety from day to day. Dining room experience was not much better due to different facts though. The food itself was OK, much much better than in the Windjammer (buffet), but - please RCCL , I hope someone reads this, it is definitely time to change the menus!!!! How can a cruise line, that pretends and promotes to serve excellent food ( yes I know it is not a 5 star cruise line but still not one of the cheap ones either ), keep the same menus and thus serve the same food for 7 years and longer? This is how you get rid of your loyal customers. Very simple. I also cannot believe they still do the Italian night the way they do it. It was nice and somewhat funny the first 5 times but that was years ago. Please come up with something new. I feel sorry for both, dining room staff and customers... Besides, and this is maybe even my biggest criticism, it does not look any funny with the all Asian/Indian waiters anymore, "singing" O Sole Mio... It looks cheap and stupid these days. What happened to the good old days, when the staff came from all over the world? These days, especially true on the Serenade and the Freedom ( at least this is where I experienced it ) they all come from the Philippines and India. No offense, but sorry , they don´t ( or should say didn´t ) do it right. They don´t have the slightest feeling for providing good service and for being somewhat charming. They are often pushy, don´t listen and have no table manners, this experiencing especially with the Filipinos. Again, no offense, just my experience. I know they are cheaper and especially Eastern Europeans get better jobs somewhere else these days but RCCL must know that it will not pay off in the long run if they continue that.
My next cruise is on Celebrity and if I experience the same with them I will move on to another cruise line, despite my status with RCCL and Celebrity, simply because it takes away a lot of what a cruise means to me. Interesting though, I was on a short cruise 3 weeks later, this time on the Jewel of the Seas, leaving from Hamburg, Germany. It was a completely different experience, almost like being on a different cruise line. Happy staff from all over the world, lot´s of eastern Europeans, South Africans, a good mix of Indians and Asians but not as many, people from the Islands, from New Zealand and Australia. The atmosphere was completely different. Everybody was in a good mood. Service was great everywhere and from everyone and that does include the Indians and Asians this time, even in the windjammer it was very good and noticeable. When asking the staff, why it was so different on all other ships now, those that do not tour Europe, I was told that hiring mostly Asians is today´s trend, simply because they save money that way... Now figure, obviously Americans don´t seem to mind that or even notice that change or trend, but in Europe they don´t do it that way simply to keep up the good service and please the European customer... That´s at least my conclusion... Says a lot... So, in the future, if you want the good old RCCL experience, make sure you sail in Europe!
So these are my biggest complaints. Please change menus (and the themes), yes that does include the specialty restaurants (!!!), and please go back to dining room and wait staff from all over the world, not only from Asia!
I hope nobody feels offended by my criticism. It has nothing to do with general attitude towards people from certain countries or areas of the world. Not at all. I respect every human being, no matter where they are from. But when it comes to good service, especially when I pay a lot of money for it, I expect something else, and certainly not what I experienced with RCCL lately (except on the Jewel).
However, I am looking forward to the Millenium doing transatlantic in December.