After our next cruise in November 2010, we will be Diamond members, so we are very familiar with RCCL cruising in the Caribbean, and looked forward to something a little different and a bit romantic for our 10th anniversary. Maybe we should have picked something else ...
It breaks my heart to say it, but judging by Explorer's 9 Night Bermuda and Bahamas cruise this year, RCCL is, indeed, slipping. Some improvements were found in the spa service (except for the snooty receptionist, but some younger people are a little funny with their perceptions of how they should behave in that kind of business). My hair service was wonderful, they pitched together with ideas and even helped pin my dress a little. My exfoliating scrub and massage were lovely, although there was no therapeutic done even on request, for just the "spa sampler" 99 dollar package. The facial I booked later was also very well done, friendly, professional ladies that seemed to really enjoy the work and chatting with cruisers. And for the first time, NO pressure to buy expensive products - perfect!
Dining, however, was saved only by the wonderful companionship of our tablemates, we've always been lucky that way on RCCL. I'm sure they're few and far between, but we wound up with one of those waiters that I've read about on Cruise Critic, a "fibber" who claimed he does not actually get paid for his work, but depends solely on tips. That upset one of our group, but it just didn't seem plausible to the rest of us, and further investigation proved it to be untrue, of course. Naturally, all ship's employees get a salary which they agree to when they sign a contract. Tips are a bonus to be worked extra hard for, and those in the dining room are among the highest on board. To Insure Prompt Service. Which, regrettably, we did not get, even though our waiter had only one table for 8 and one table for 6 to serve. This particular server explained that he is trying to get out of his 7 month contract due to his "bad back", and complained every single night about it to us. He also pressured us each night about our end-of-cruise comment sheet, demanding to know what we would be checking off and then insisting that only "excellent' would do. We ignored him as soon as he'd start up, and had wonderful conversations with our new friends, and really looked forward to dinnertime just the same. (The maitre 'd was in fact spoken to by the daughter of one of our party, and future cruisers can rest assured that "R" will not be likely to have his contract renewed, and in any case, did not broach the subject of his remuneration again.) That said, we too found that serving ladies first was not particularly followed, and also one of our gentleman received the wrong dinner 3 times. Long waits ensued between courses at times, and the food is just not as good as it used to be. Smaller vegetable portions, heavy sauces that are hit and miss for flavor, and cafeteria-style desserts, for the most part.
Shows were not bad overall, but the Frankie Vallee impersonators just didn't quite convince. The comedians were hilarious, but the humor is mostly skewed towards the oldtimers. A little more balance for those under 75 would be good. A few of the bar entertainers were way late in getting started.
We did get a nice anniversary photo at the table, as a keepsake, and our memories of beautiful Bermuda, but once was enough for us on this ship!