I am a long time cruiser going back twenty years. I had sailed on RC many years before on the 1200 passenger Nordic Prince. I have sailed on HAL the past five cruises, but found a deal on RC sailing out of NJ so I would not have to pay airfare. My friend insisted on booking a balcony cabin so we could eat breakfast out there each morning. Upon boarding the Explorer, I found a beautiful ship that needed maintenance in alot of places.
FOOD-AWFUL!!-However, I also found really bad food as well. We planned on room service breakfast, however, you can't get grapefruit halves from room service. So we tried the Windjammer buffet-can't get grapefruit there either. In fact, you can only get two kinds of juice-apple and orange. We found the breads almost inedible. The muffins were totally tasteless-the biscuits inedible, the food cold and bland. The high point was the omelet station. At lunch, the situation was worse. Pretty much every station had the same food. Vegetables were pretty much non-existent unless you count potatoes as a vegetable. The salad bar was limited to greens and a few vegetables, and a couple of salads with tasteless tomatoes. No protein was available for the salads. In another line, cold cuts were present-ham and salami only every day. The fish of the day was always breaded and fried. One sugarless dessert was available at lunch. There were almost no room service choices. Any food that should be spicy-curry, etc., was bland beyond belief. In the dining room at dinner, things improved somewhat. However, the menu was very limited. I had hoped to get fish every night. Fish other than salmon was only available two nights-and one of those nights it was friend. The wait staff had no clue about who got coffee every night, lemonade, etc. The waiter did not speak enough English-as a consequence, my dinner was messed up two nights. I had a NY strip steak that was as tough as shoe leather, and without the Bearnaise sauce that would hide its dryness. Indian food was alway bland-the curry I had no one would every recognize as curry if they were blindfolded.
RC-GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY PLEASE!-The bath towel deposit policy is ridiculous. You are charged $20 per towel, which is supposed to be refunded when you give your towel back. My friend was charged $40 for two towels despite turnign them back in. Other friends were charged $5 each for the freshly squeezed orange juice in the dining room. They were Swedish, and the waiter never explained that there was a charge for the OJ. RC has chains for an inch stations at every dining room, and spa attendants bugging you to sign up at the dining rooms. You must pay $15 for a filet in the dining room. My friend bought the filet twice, and said it was worht the money. He also said that the only good food he ate was the food he was charged extra for-Portofino, filets, and OJ. We both went to Portofino. I give it high marks for bread only. My appetizers were totally tasteless, as was my entree-which was supposedly garlic shrimp. My friend was asked if he wanted Pelligrino water. No one ever had him sign a slip for that-or told him there was an additional charge. No one ever filled his water glass (or mine) after the initial filling. Both he and I felt that RC was trying to nickel and dime passengers at every chance-many other passengers we talked to felt the same way!
GYM-RC made it very difficult to work out. You could not get breakfast before the gym opened. If you did not get to the gym right away, all the cardio equipment was full. of course, when there are only 20 treadmills and 5 are broken for the entire cruise, it does increase the difficulty. The walking-jogging track is a narrow space between two rows of deck chairs. This means if anyone is sunbathing, or if people are strolling the deck, it is almost impossible to jog or walk the track. RC is far, far behind HAL in food and services. I don't know if I could sail on RC again. Both my friend and I were actually glad to leave the ship after 9 days because the food was so bad. I went to Johnny Rockets and got the worst burger I have ever had. It must have been precooked 45 minutes ago as it had no juices whatsoever, and was as tasty as a wood chip. I am not sure if I would go on RC again even if someone offered me a free cruise.