I want to start off by saying that we were avid RCCL cruisers. We went on the Mariner of the Seas in 2008 and had the time of our lives. Last year we went on the Explorer of the Seas, and even though there were some issues, we still walked off the ship saying what a great time we had. This time however finished us off RCCL. We believed RCCL was the "Cadillac" of cruise lines- well now they are the clown car at the circus without the "fun".
The boarding was abysmal. Our day started at 7am with Yankee Trails Bus tours. With the boat delay, (which we never received a call about) the bus company was nice enough to drop us at a mall to kill time. We arrived at the pier at about 1:30pm, checked in and there we waited, and waited and waited (they didn't have the sea passes printed so you had to wait to check in a second time). When another part of our group who traveled separate from us walked through the herding area at about 6pm saying they had to wait an hour in line and were now boarding the ship, well you can imagine our surprise. At 8:30 pm we were finally on the ship.
We walked in to an absolutely filthy room, fingerprints over all the mirrors, dirt on the bed, the safe was locked (which took 3 hours to unlock a couple of days later when they had the time to fix it). The refrigerator is actually a "chiller", well it was room temperature at best. The balcony was covered in brown muck, the paint was peeling and the railing desperately needed varnish. So those of you who thought that these things were fixed in dry dock- no such luck.
Not to let this ruin our vacation, the next day we opened our cruise compass eagerly anticipating our day's activities. Highlighter in hand we circled only two things- The main show Judy Kolba (which was hysterical!) and the Port and Shopping show (heads up- they claim you will receive something "free" (bracelets, pendants) at these shopping shows and all you get is a paper to bring to a store in port to receive it and when you get it, you understand why it's free. The comedians were great but the rest of the shows were exactly the same as last year. (very disappointing).
The cruise compass was pretty much the same every day. Rock climbing, ice skating, inline skating, scrapbooking, spa services (for a fee), bingo (for a fee), fitness center (for a fee), casino activities (for a fee), outdated movies and trivia games. With the lack of activities, expect to drink a lot of over-priced drinks or visit the casino often.
At least on a cruise the dining and food are incredible- so we thought. We were told that our group would be all eating together, nope. (RCCL told us it was taken care of before the trip even started). With our party scattered throughout the dining area, we were stuck in this little room off the main dining room. It was way too crowded in there. We were shoved right up against the table and kept getting bumped every time the waiter had to walk between us and the wall. The food was mediocre at best (not what we were used to), but at least the waiter really did try to do a good job.
There were no outdoor midnight buffets, or poolside night parties and I think they only had one daytime activity poolside- the belly flop contest. Sorry I was wrong, you could play pool volleyball or ladderball with the 3500 people desperate to find something to do.
On our last "warm day" it rained for 5-10 minutes (which is normal in the Caribbean I guess) and the band packed up everything before they started and cancelled the only other poolside activity -The Men's Sexy Legs Competition (after the rain it was sunny and beautiful out!!)
The ports were great, but they shaved time off of every port except for San Juan.
Beware of the soda card, the bartenders don't receive gratuities for it- so expect some eye rolling and an over whelming feeling that you are bothering them. (We paid $68 a piece to have soda for the cruise)
We have yet to hear from RCCL about any of this. We went down to guest relations to ask what they could do for us and were told to call the 1-800 number. Not sure why we would have to call when we had a guest relations representative in front of us, until it dawned on me- they charge for phone calls made aboard ship.
So, thank you RCCL for making it completely obvious what we are to you - cattle with credit cards.