This is essentially a copy of the letter of complaint we wrote to Royal Caribbean after we returned from the cruise. I will add some commments as I go, especially in relation to other reviews, as many of the experiences were the same.
Check in was not bad. We needed two wheelchairs for our party (see below)and we had to wait at least a half an hour for the chairs. We got almost all of our luggage right away, but I had to go searching for one of the pieces for two days. Finally got it from the front desk (not out with the other lost luggage which would have been simpler).
First let me tell you the best things about the cruise: the Ice Show - fantastic; the singers and dancers in the Palace Theater; the Marty Allen show; and the food in both the dining room and the Windjammer Restaurants. Our waitress, Maria and her assistant Cecile were also wonderful.
I want to say one thing about the ice show. The organization about getting the tickets is the most disorganized mess I have ever seen. We were told to come down the on the first day to pick up tickets. Well, I went and got 4 (for our two cabins) with no trouble. Later I spoke to people who either didn't get the notice at all or thought they had to pay for them. Therefore, they didn't get to see the show at all. Why don't they just put the number of tickets per stateroom in the room (no choice in which show, just the luck of the draw) and then everyone gets to see the show. The first shows (I went the first day) were packed and the second shows there were empty seats because of the folks not realizing they could see the show anyhow - just get on line. We actually got on line and saw it twice. Loved that, but still - very poor planning.
Now the bad things:
1) When we arrived on the ship, my mother had sprained my ankle (on the plane). I took her immediately to the infirmary. There she was x-rayed and given a bandage on her foot. I reserved a wheelchair from the front desk (which I later returned as it was very cumbersome). Later when she went down to get rebandaged my mom was met by a very disagreeable and rude nurse who was very unhelpful. Also, when my mother was headed down to the infirmary the second time she encountered the most distressing incident - seemingly dangerous for any ship. All the elevators to the first floor were stopped at the second floor and then went back up again. She asked several officers to help and they all could not figure out how to get her down to the first floor. Finally one helped carry her down to the infirmary. When I complained at the front desk about this I was told this was typical because we were tendering to the island we were visiting (which seemed irrelevant, btw)and I should have called for help if it was needed . Since she did not know it was needed until she was stumbling around trying to get to the first floor (there was no notice of the closure), this was not a feasible excuse. (By the way, this is in total agreement with the reviewer about how difficult it is to get anything accomplished with the front office staff - answers for everything, but do nothing.)
2) I think it is regrettable that in this day and age of infection and spreading disease, that there are no seat covers in any of the public bathrooms. This again is a health issue that is not taken seriously enough by this ship. Also, I have been on ships with lots of disinfectants everywhere, and I actually had to look for them on this ship. They were few adn far between.
3) The towels that were placed in my room when it was cleaned were absolutely in tatters. I would not even keep towels in this bad a condition except for rags and would certainly not give them out as acceptable towels to visitors in the ship.
4) I tried to call the hotel manager on three different occasions to set up a meeting to discuss some of these issues with him and he was absolutely inaccessible. He is kept very well protected by his staff. Having spent years as manager in customer service I was always available to speak to someone who wanted to register a complaint or just talk about issues. I never asked my front staff to cover for me. This is reprehensible. (see above about front office staff).
4) Finally, the day we arrived in Bayonne, NJ, the roads were closed and the airports were closed. My father is 93 years old and my mother is 83. We stood in the freezing cold (16 degrees,) wet slushy snow for over two hours trying to get a taxicab. I think the ship under the circumstances should have kept visitors on the ship longer until transportation was available rather than have us standing around freezing. To be honest, I really did not think my dad would live through the experience, but I am glad he did! I have been trying to book another cruise with my mother and father and he is still having such nightmares about cold and snow that it is hard to persuade to go anywhere. I have finally gotten him booked on a trip to Mexico - on Holland America.
5) We like classical music. Well, try to hear the classical quartet. The place that they are situated is accessible to about two guests. No one else can really hear or see them as they are placed on either side of a hallway (two on each side) outside the casino and the seating area is divided by the center area of the ship. People are walking right by you and talking and it was terrible. After 2 tries on two different occasions we gave up!
6) Here is something that is going to be agreed with by some folks and disagreed with by others. There seemed to be very little communication on the ship. I am not talking about overhead announcements which I hate and thankfully were few and far between, but I am talking about daily newspapers and ship news. Other ships I have been on have too much paper, but it is all recycled in a special container in the room. On this ship there was no place to leave a note outside the room and almost no paper deliveries at all. I would like to be a little more informed.
One other good point: the shore excursions were great (although the staff were a little short tempered at the counter - don't ask any questions. I did my own on the TV to avoid the contact after the rude behavior. The walking tour in Puerto Rico was divine, the snorkeling at St. Thomas as good as most of the diving I have done and Labadee snorkeling was only fair, but the boat trip was lovely. This was just a few weeks before the Haiti earthquake, so we are all very sad for the island people.
We will not go on Royal Caribbean again. I thought service was excellent by a select few (dining servers, room steward, Windjammer) and the rest were mediocre at best. I sort of felt like I was with a herd of cattle being moved from one place to another. The areas were all crowded - no places to escape crowds except for your own stateroom.
That's it. I have to admit that I am a Holland American gal, but everyone I know has beefs and compliments about their favorite cruise lines. This was definitely a first and last for me with RCCL.