We are experienced cruisers and have done 19 now ranging from weekenders to 7 nights to 15 nights - Med, Caribbean, Panama Canal, British Isles, Indian Ocean etc. etc. and as you've probably gathered already - cruising is one of our favourite things in the world to do!
So we tried RCCI (Voyager) in 2007 and wanted to take our son (aged 9) on a short cruise during the Whitsun school holidays and found this 3 night mini-cruise to Le Havre from Southampton and thought - perfect.
We booked the Holiday Inn cruise package and could not have been closer to Indy before embarking. We chanced our arm and were onboard before 11.30am - check-in was very efficient and we were soon enjoying the main pool and bar area for a wonderful sunny afternoon - jacuzzis, pools, sunshine and cocktails - who could ask for more!!! Very impressive cocktail range and even served my favourite (BBC - baileys, bananas & cream) - do try it if you go on Indy. Also, when special cocktails are bought round by barmen in the special cocktail glasses, if you buy one of these cocktails, you get to keep the glass as a souvenir and they are nice glasses.
We had an E1 deluxe ocean view stateroom (7708) at the aft of the ship with a lovely large balcony and everything was in order.
The ship was full for this mini-cruise and we like many other families had decided before setting off that we were going to give Le Havre, Honfleur and Paris a miss and just stay on board to get the full RCCI cruise "fun" experience and on the whole we did just that.
The food and service in both the very busy restaurants and bars was good despite the staff obviously being caught short with just how many passengers stayed on board during port days. One thing we always notice on RCCI is that there are no vegetables served with dinner (only that comes in the meal) and we really miss our veg both from home meals and that of the silver service of P&O.
Our son obviously wanted to try the rock climbing wall and the flowrider surf simulator so we went to check out when he could do these activities only to read that the rock climbing wall only opened for both days from 3.30pm-6.30pm and that the flowrider also had very restricted hours unless you wanted to pay a ridiculous sum of money to hire it privately for any period of time!!! So we ended up, like most people on board, queuing for over an hour for each activity - we thought we had gone to Alton Towers by mistake!!! Still, when Luke got on the wall and flowrider, this was all forgotten but it would be better for all concerned if RCCI had just opened these well advertised activities all day instead!
We love a bit of karaoke and so decided to go to the On Air studio on Deck 3 and have a bit of a sing song only to find that many popular "British" karaoke tunes were missing. Considering this ship now sails from Southampton all year round, RCCI needs to address this straight away. Also, these days most karaoke microphones are cordless due to Health & Safety reasons (as well as extrovert performers like my OH who loves to run around the bar seronading unsuspecting punters)!
The hypnotist show was fabulous and Luke had a tummy ache from laughing so much. The casino is great - it has 5 roulette tables (double zero wheels unfortunately however all take neighbour & French bets) as well as numerous card tables and machines. We enjoyed a few hours in here. We also managed to get some tickets for the ice show that we had been told was full (we blagged a couple from diamond plus members Declan and Chris - thanks guys) only to find that 1) 1/2 the seats were empty and 2) the show was not nearly as good as the ice show we had seen on Voyager.
The drinks are overpriced and that's without the 15% service charge however we were aware of this from our previous cruise and from other reviews!
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed the ship - Luke loved the H20 zone and we struggled to get him back to the room just to shower and change for dinner but he did well and tried food that we never thought he would and looked lovely in his tux for formal night so a great time was had by all but then.....
We arrived back in Southampton on the Saturday morning and disembarked early as we had booked the ferry over to the Isle of Wight for the day as we thought we'd make the most of the weekend and already being in Southampton. Our trouble began when we arrived home and Pete tried to buy his train ticket to get to work in London and his debit card was declined. At the same time, I was doing the food shopping in Asda and upon trying to pay with my debit card (from the same account), it was also declined. Luckily for me, my brother was with me and loaned me the cash to settle my bill however Pete had to walk home from the station where I had only just dropped him off so he could try to get some money to pay for his ticket to get to work!!!! Neither of us could understand why our cards had been rejected as we knew we had plenty of money in our account to pay for our day to day expenses before we both got paid again.
I immediately phoned my bank who informed me that RCCI had 4 pending transactions on my account and that they needed to cancel them so they would "drop off" my account!! I then phoned RCCI post cruise customer relations department who told me they could not cancel the transactions as they had only asked the bank if the funds were available and not to actually debit the money from my account!!! These 4 transactions came to over £500 and were processed on 3rd-5th June 2010. Today is 14th June 2010 and the funds are still not available to me as RCCI are still saying they cannot cancel the transactions and my bank is telling me it is the retailer's responsibility to do this otherwise amounts just remain as pending on my account but I have no access to my own money!!!! JUST A WARNING - IF YOU REGISTER A DEBIT CARD ON RCCI - YOU WILL PROBABLY EXPERIENCE THIS SAME PROBLEM AS THEY DO NOT DEBIT FROM THE AUTHORISATION CODES THEY OBTAIN DURING YOUR CRUISE BUT PROCESS A SEPARATE TRANSACTION AT THE END OF THE CRUISE AND THEN FAIL TO CANCEL THE PREVIOUS ONES!!! I WOULD RECOMMEND YOU EITHER REGISTER A CREDIT CARD OR PAY BY CASH OR AS WE WILL FROM NOW ON TRAVEL WITH AN ALTERNATIVE CRUISE COMPANY LIKE P&O WHEN THIS DESPICABLE TYPE OF THING DOES NOT HAPPEN. AS YOU CAN APPRECIATE I AM STILL VERY ANGRY ABOUT NOT BEING ABLE TO ACCESS MY OWN MONEY AND NOBODY BEING ABLE TO TELL ME WHEN THIS IS GOING TO BE RESOLVED (11 DAYS SO FAR).
I WOULD NOT RECOMMEND RCCI FOR THIS REASON AS WE WILL NOT BE TRAVELLING WITH THEM AGAIN NO MATTER WHAT FACILITIES MAY OR MAY NOT BE ON OFFER ON THEIR SHIPS. WE ARE SO DISAPPOINTED AS WE WERE HOPING TO TRY OASIS ALAS THIS IS NOT TO BE!
I HAVE BEEN HONEST AND FAIR AND WOULD SO HAVE LOVED TO WRITE A GREAT REVIEW BUT I'M AFRAID I'VE BEEN LEFT WITH A VERY BITTER AFTER TASTE AND ALL I WANT IS FOR THIS NOT TO HAPPEN TO ANYBODY ELSE. IF IT WASN'T FOR THIS PROBLEM WITH RCCI STEALING MY MONEY, I WOULD NOT HAVE EVEN MENTIONED ALL THESE SMALL NIGGLES THAT I'M WRITING ABOUT TODAY AS OVERALL THEY DID NOT AFFECT THE ENJOYMENT WE EXPERIENCED ON THE SHIP AS WE ALWAYS ENJOY OURSELVES ON ALL CRUISES (DESPITE SAILING THROUGH A HURRICANE ONCE) BUT WE DRAW THE LINE AT A SUBSTANTIALLY FUNDED COMPANY LIKE RCCI STEALING OUR HARD EARNED MONEY AND EVEN PREVENTING MY OH FROM GETTING TO WORK TO EARN MORE MONEY TO SPEND ON CRUISING!!!!
THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED WITH RCCI BOTH TO US AND OTHER PASSENGERS AND IT MAKES ME WONDER HOW MUCH INTEREST RCCI IS EARNING FROM HAVING TENS OF THOUSANDS OF PASSENGERS MONEY IN PENDING ACCOUNTS EVERY DAY!!!!
THANK YOU FOR READING MY REVIEW AND SORRY IF IT HAS DISAPPOINTED YOU TOO!! SORT IT OUT RCCI OR YOU WILL LOSE MORE CRUISERS LIKE US!!!