Embarkation- Just a really bad/sad experience for all who I spoke with.
Cape Liberty- arrived at 11:30 am expecting that they would start boarding around 12 noon. At 12:15 announcement came that Coast Guard was doing drills on ship and we wouldn't begin embarkation for 1 hour. No further announcements. Is any body in charge here??? When I took a Carnival out of the city they had us all singing songs, doing trivia-they handed out t-shirts and hats. I have two kids who were bored to tears. To be fair they had great cookies and lousy coffee (almost as bad as the coffee on the ship-which I gently refer to as the most bitter coffee I have ever had..It stunk). But no one seemed to know what was going on. A great silence enveloped the whole room for 1 hour. More people entered and could not find seats. 1:15pm second announcement- they would start boarding in 15 minutes. 1:30 pm first groups called for boarding-wedding party, and high level crown and anchor members. Very very slow going. One bus at a time. Everyone descends on these two lines as they are called up to board. They move as fast as my shower drips. This is a nightmare. RC people stand their and snap at you. The most unfriendly group you have ever seen. One of them squawked at my three year old because she was crawling on the floor. They all look very unhappy to be there. I wasn't the only one who thought so. All the people around me echoed our thoughts. They need Disney happy lessons as soon as possible. We finally get on our bus at 2:15. 5 minutes to boat. Beware the embarkation was just a prelude to disembarkation a true Dantes Inferno. Hell should be renamed Cape Liberty. More on that fun at the end.
The Ship- the ship is magnificent-beautiful beyond compare. The place is kept spotless. The art is magnificent. The signage is out of this world great. The pools are wonderful, all the bars are beautiful, the atrium is fantastic.
Windjammer Cafe- Beware the Windjammer one of the most miserable places on an otherwise fantastic ship. How can you build a ship for 3,000 people and only have 500 seats in the Windjammer. WHERE ARE THE TRAYS TO CARRY YOUR FOOD TO YOUR TABLES????? What no trays. Who put this place together. Every meal is a hunt for a seat. You leave your food at a table and go back to the line because they do not provide trays for you to carry all your food to the table. They must think we are all jugglers. I have two kids how was I supposed to get their food and mine at the same time? When you get back to your table someone else is sitting there. You don't want a confrontation so you go to one of the stewards to ask him to remove them. He shrugs. So you go over to ask them to move. They refuse. First agida (pain) of the day. This place is a disaster. Every 5 minutes an announcement for you to give up your seats to other passengers because their are not enough seats. My wife says "I thought this was supposed to be a vacation-why do I feel pressure all the time to give up my seat?" Get to the Windjammer early or you will regret it.
The Food- The worst and I do mean worst food I have ever had on a ship-what gives??? My waiter whose name I will not reveal was in full accord with my thoughts on the food. He thought it was awful and would try to recommend what he thought was the least awful each night. My local jersey diner serves food that is 100 percent better than this slop. The presentation of the food is childish, the taste is bland to just plain awful. What a disapointment.RC needs help desperately in this area.I never and I mean Never heard so many complaints about the food from people. I mean everyone I spoke with said the food was lousy.
My Room- Had a small inside stateroom. My steward was amazing. Kept the place spotless and made beautiful towel animals for the kids. One of the best experiences I have had on any cruise ship.
The Camp for Kids- WOW was this great. Never saw so many smiles on my kids. Loved it.The counselors were great. activities superb and a beautiful camp.
The Staff- Mixed reviews. My waiter, assistant waiter and room seward were great. Others could be surely. I kept wanting to say cheer up.I heard many other complaints like this from passengers.My wife said that sometimes the job came before the passenger. As in I was holding a pair of tongs for pineapple at the buffet when right in front of me the pineapple was whisked away-while I held one piece in my tongs. I said "excuse me" "but I was getting that". The woman who grabbed it away while giving me her back said "sorry this section closed-try the other side". Never had that happen to me before on a cruise-weird.
Passengers- mixed crowd, alot of Quebecites and other Canadians ( announcements were always in English and French,lots of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, some British, Brooklyn (Russian), Staten Island and Long Island.Many more wheel chairs than I have seen on other cruises as well as developmentally disabled passengers. Plenty of kids.
Cruise Director- Gordon and his staff were terrific. Always on and always available. Theparades, ice show and all the shows were great. Biggest complaint was the music poolside. Never saw a band take more breaks and play less than this reggae band. All those in earshot said the samething 15 minutes on 45 minutes off. The band would start playing at 1 and stop playing at 4. In those three hours they played for one hour.
Excursions- Tragedy- On the Dominican Republic excursion a bus sponsored by RC flipped over. Many passengers were hurt-some extremely injured. Many were medi-vacced out out to local area hospitals. The bus behind radioed ahead to Explorer that they were bringing in injured passengers. I saw them getting off bus all bloodied. No one from RC to greet them ,nobody form the medical staff. All passengers furious. Iwas told that some were bought off for their silence with cruises-others refused to sign on. I met one couple whose parents were on the bus 84 and 80 respectively. They had to climb out the windows of the bus. RC did not contact them for the entire first day they were back on the ship. Only on the second day did they hear from them about signing a waiver.
The excursions and ports were OK.Labadee was wonderful-really enjoyed that.But RC HAS TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE. This and I think everyone can concur is a horror. The shops on Labadee are a gauntlet of individuals who grab at you as you walk through. I was terrified for my kids. Never have I experienced anything like the way you are hustled ,pushed, grabbed and cajoled while walking through this building. DON't go through this ordeal. Casa De Campo should be eliminated as a stop. Big bore. Puerto Rico-old san juan stay on the ship and avoid the armed camp that it has now become.Finally ST Thomas- met a couple that had been robbed on this trip. They took a cab with a guy who took them to the other side of the island and robbed them Turns out that this happens all the time according to my steward and the cab drivers pay off the cops.
Many of the drivers looked unsavory. I used to love St Thomas what is happening on these islands.