EMBARKATION: We are Senior Citizens and have been on HAL several times and Celebrity once. This was our first trip with RCCL. We usually book our own air transportation but this time booked it through the cruise line. We had a 10am flight from PHL on Dec 21 and arrived in MIA at 1:30pm along with several other families, and were met at baggage pickup by the cruise line rep. We then sat on a bus and waited for other planes to arrive while they loaded luggage onto 2 trucks for two ships. When we arrived at the pier, we were let off the bus quite a distance from the terminal and after this long walk waited in a long line to check in. (I had done the on-line check in at home) After another mile walk from the terminal onto the ship, we finally arrived at our cabin at 4pm - too late for lunch but just in time for the life boat drill. Needless to say, we didn't receive our bags until after dinner - about 7:30pm.
DISEMBARKATION: The day before arrival in MIA everyone received color tags for luggage. We, along with many others, had received the wrong colors, and had to have them changed. The disembarking went well however, arrival at the airport did not. The bus driver made sure to remind everyone to tip him generously. He was supposed to let people off at their specific terminals. He made 2 stops, and at the second said we all had to get off
there. We needed to be at US Air and were not anywhere near it. There we stood, with all our bags, and not a cart in sight, having no idea where to go. An airport employee passed by, asked if we needed help, and found a porter for us. As we followed him to our check in area, I could not believe how far away we had been let off the bus. I do intend to write to RCCL and advise them that this travel situation left us with a very poor opinion of their cruise line.
FOOD: We were not too impressed with the dinner choices or quality of the food. HAL seems to do the best in both of these categories. Breakfast in the Windjammer was excellent. But lunch was not that great. Other ships have more choices, such as: a Deli station, Asian and Italian stations with more selections in each of these.
ASHORE: The ship docked at the Cristobal Pier in Panama at about 3pm. Before any announcements were made, lines had formed and were snaked all the way around the deck. We waited about 45 minutes to get off the ship and shopped at the pier for about a half hour. When we were ready to get back on, there were 2 gangplanks but they would only use one, so there was another long line. At this point, it was 5pm, and at the rate the line was moving, we never would have made it to dinner at 6pm. I walk with
a cane and could not stand on line this long, so my husband asked someone in charge if we could please use the other gangplank. By then others started to complain, so they finally let us aboard. On another day, when we arrived in Colombia at 11am, passengers started to congregate around the exit and stairways leading to it and the crew shouted at everyone to stay away until they were ready. They were disorganized but it was not entirely their fault. The passengers should also have followed proper procedure.
GENERAL AMBIANCE: The ship was beautiful and the entire crew were exceptionally friendly and helpful - nicer than on any other ship we had been on. The rooms were a little smaller than usual but very comfortable with lots of closet and drawer space. The shows were all very good - we enjoyed them. The mid ship elevators were a problem. The signal lights kept going out, so the elevators would pass by and not stop. Plenty of chairs available at the pools, even on sea days.