We are annual all inclusive land travellers and have never taken a cruise because of the large expense involved. Our financial picture has steadily improved over the years and have visited all of the affordable caribbean locations over the past 6 years. Our most recent was the Mexican Mayan Riviera...5 star Bahia Principe. Because of the swine flue scare, we got an amazing deal for 2 weeks in August 2009...$3000 (for 2) approx ALL IN! We have heard nothing but positive things about cruising and knew that the next islands we want to go to are on the eastern and western legs of the cruise so we decided to cruise so we could check them out.
We arrived at the terminal of Ft Lauderdale and our first experience of service was excellent, not much different from the conferences we have both been on in the past. Check in was very efficient and we were able to go immediately to our room and check it out. It was nice...but not a WOW for a suite (no coffee machine and empty fridge)...imagine what an inside cabin is like... The ship is beautiful and most definitely has Wows everywhere. We went for lunch at the buffet and was somewhat surprised as it was small, little selection and nothing really special. I knew that we were going to have to pay for non-alcoholic bevs but thought they would be included with your meals but no...The bus personnel in the dining area are sales people as well, they sell you your non-alcoholic cards $29 and if you want juice, coffee...its only $50 per person per week. We only took the non-alcoholic bevs... The next morning we went to the breakfast buffet (not knowing that you can be served in the restaurant)and it was jammed packed. We couldn't find a seat (3000 people on the ship with 1000 crew)and had to sit at a table on the deck which wasn't very comfortable. I ordered coffee and when it arrived I understood why they were trying to up-sell us with the coffee...its garbage! Its syrup coffee not ground. Its the coffee you can store in the freezer frozen...fast food restaurants use it. You have to go half coffee and half hot water to kind of enjoy one cup for the day! very disappointed! The buffet was ok but fortunately we discovered that you can be served in the restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner (of course)which we did for the next 2 weeks.
There is no water in your room and if you want it you can either buy a big bottle for $3.50 and fill it every day and refrigerate or use the tap which is only warm water. You mean to tell me you can't supply water???you have to be kidding me! My wife and I have worked in food service for approx 25 years and have very high standards and of course a cruise is going to deliver? The first night featured prime rib. It was excellent as was the service. We selected any time dining and chose to sit with others for dinner. It was excellent. Dessert is excellent at all times so if you are a dessert eater you will love it. We aren't, but we always had some and it was fabulous. I quickly discovered the soup is the same broth every night (2 wks) with a different name (ingredients) each night (7 dinners). Come on, get chef Ramsay in that kitchen. I know I could rotate 3 different soups through the menu. At least put some ingredients in the soup. I love soup and considering the cruise kitchen is head up by a Chef (so they say)you would think there would be some great tastes for dinner. The only other night to look forward to was the lobster and shrimp dinner.
Now the ship features 2 other restaurants which you have to pay for $25/person. The Crown Grill is suppose to be an experience! They were suppose to pamper you for over and hour and a half and just stuff you with all the amazing items on their menu. The server we had (there are only 2 in the restaurant) had an attitude and was training someone else. I waited for her to take the ball and just WOW us. Giant Black Tiger Prawns was an entree as well as all the steaks and lobster. I asked if I could have the prawns as an appetizer and then have steak (rib eye med rare) and lobster as a serf and terf for main course. My wife ordered lobster only and an appetizer (can't remember). My Giant Black Tiger Prawns arrived on a bed of rice. They were lg cocktail shrimp (16-18 cnt), the lobster and shrimp night had giant black tiger prawns (which were amazing)and you are serving me this! The server said that they were Giant Black Tiger prawns...sorry...then came my steak! It was in some wine sauce which was horrible, half my plate was full of blubber/fat when I was done pulling it away from the meat. The lobster was good. My wifes potato was suppose to be twice baked...not! Don't waste your money people.
Liz the shopping girl...please don't be rude, we pay you to have this job. My wife and I were in the theater for her shopping presentation which she tapes. She was preparing the audience to respond in a certain way prior to getting started. Someone in the crowd responded out of turn and she scolded the person to not do that when she is taping. Get your head out of the clouds, who really watches the show on TV anyway and isn't this our show not yours! Finally, make the prices cheaper for drinks. Waiting till 8pm just doesn't cut it ($2.99 after 8pm).
This is our vacation where we are suppose to "escape completely" for triple the price! I don't think we will ever cruise again!