We booked the 11/8/2009 sailing over a year prior. Our daughter was diagnosed with cancer in September 2009 and we decided that after a year of surgery and treatments, her family would be ready for some rest and relaxation. We chose this ship because of the H20Zone and hot tubs. My husband and I have previously sailed 8 times with RC. We live just 1 hour and 45 minutes north of Miami and drove to the port. On previous cruises we were on board by 11:30 and for that reason, I told my daughter not to worry about packing snacks for her 32 month old son.
Expecting priority embarkation, we were told that we would be late boarding as 2 cases of legionnaire's disease were on the previous sailing and the ship was being thoroughly cleaned. Next we were told that Customs was checking the entire ship and crew and embarkation would be further delayed. We all sat in a huge room with nothing in the way of drink (water) or food (maybe pastries) available. Our grandson was very hungry and his Mom went to try and get snacks where there was a line of approximately 50 people trying to get potato chips or whatever. Time dragged on and we sat and sat. Finally at approximately 2:30 we were told we could board. Expecting the Wind Jammer to be packed, we opted for Sorrentos for a quick bite of pizza. Excellent service and pizza and salad.
Off to see the H2O zone. It was all roped off and not operating. When we inquired, we were told there was a sanitation issue. It remained closed all day. The next day we went to the H20 zone. It was closed - were told there were not enough children on board to warrant its opening - huh?
My daughter who is now taking drugs to prevent a recurrence of her cancer suffers from joint pain due to the drugs. She was so looking forward to the hot tubs. Closed - are you kidding me. Were told it was a sanitation issue.
I could go on and on and tell you the different answers we were given by guest relations as to why both the H20 Zone and hot tubs were closed. On the last night of the cruise - the truth. Equipment problem. The H20 zone had also been closed the entire previous week. Maybe tomorrow (the last day of the cruise) it would be open and maybe the hot tubs too.
The entire week there were no additional activities for kids to compensate for the lack of a working H20 zone. What do you do all day with children on sea days?
I think you get my drift - $5000 for no H20 Zone or hot tubs. Enough.
Service - our cabin steward took care of our needs and most mornings and evenings we found our cabin ready when we returned from breakfast and dinner. I was impressed with how well he cleaned our balcony (sometimes neglected on other cruises). So an A for him.
We chose My Time Dining for flexibility and were given a nice table with wonderful servers. Even though we were a party of 2, 3 or 5 on some nights, we had the same table for 5 nights and the same servers for 6. They were outstanding. Our Assistant Maiter'D Oliver was outstanding as were the entire dining room staff. Our only complaint was at breakfast we were sometimes seated at huge tables and breakfast took forever when we were seated with groups who knew each other and wanted to socialize. Food portions were smaller than previous cruises and I am all for that. However - food quality has definitely deteriorated and some nights I found the main entrees very disappointing.
We loved the ice show and the Motown show was great. My daughter and her husband enjoyed Quest and other adult activities. We enjoyed having our grandson fall asleep in our cabin some nights. The entire crew on the ship went out of their way to be friendly to our grandson. We loved Vintages and sat there people watching.
My overall impression - Royal Caribbean flat out lied regarding the H20 zone and hot tubs. Why can't they be upfront and tell you that you will not get to enjoy these activities and why can't they come up with some additional activities for children, especially on sea days.
This was our 9th cruise on Royal Caribbean and our most disappointing. We loved the Mariner and Navigator. Even the parties for Platinum were disappointing - meatballs I wouldn't even feed to my dog were the only offered appetizer. One drink only as some of the servers concentrated on serving only passengers of their race (unbelievable). Ice Tea in the Wind Jammer was so diluted it looked like colored water. Lemonade also was so watered down that it was undrinkable. Food at the Jade looked old and appetizing. I was not impressed and only visited the Wind Jammer when everything else was closed.
Every place we turned we were offered a photo opportunity or a drink. The entire promenade always was filled with merchandise. They might as well hang a big sign saying we want more of your money.
We have been on approximately 25 cruises and we have seen so many changes in the last 5 years - none for the good.
In summary - this was the worst Royal Caribbean cruise we have taken. Back to Celebrity, Princess or Holland America. They don't have the H20 zone or the dramatic hot tubs, but hey - we paid the fare and as far as we are concerned, Royal Caribbean stiffed us.