I just traveled on a 7 Night Western Mediterranean Cruise, Navigator Of The Seas,Royal Caribbean on August 1st, 2010 departing Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy
I was remiss, in advance to check with the cruise line & my travel agent about their smoking policy. I had cruised the last 3 summers in Europe on both Celebrity (sister ship) and Holland America. Smoking was allowed on those cruises, in public areas, in designated smoking sections permitted outdoors on only one side of the ship.
If I knew in advance that much of the aft of the ship, including the piano bar, lounges, casino, pool and more locations all allowed smoking, I never would have taken the cruise. The options to use the ships facilities for a non smoker were limited. Much of the fun, festive activities available after the show were inundated with smoke. It was uncomfortable & effected my enjoyment.
While it is the cruise line's intention to try to please everybody, their smoking policy should NOT be hidden in the small print of their contracts. Cigarette smoke is extremely uncomfortable for non smokers. Their smoking policy should be displayed in bold print to warn all non-smokers. It certainly would have made a difference in my selection of a cruise line and has tarnished my view of Royal Caribbean going forward.
The dining rooms were pretty, food average at best. I ate in the dining room for dinner only. My first table, I was placed with an Italian American lady with her Italian family. Although the waiter was efficient and dining room pretty, the elders did not speak English. I do not speak Italian. The maitre d, with attitude & after much coaxing switched me to a table with a lovely English speaking lady an her 2 daughters. There was another couple at the table with their son, for 1 night but they never returned. When I saw them at an excursion they said they did not like the service and are eating else where. There was nothing special ever on the menu and the service just average. One evening I asked for asparagus. The waiter said we don't have it. We have mixed veggies only. Another evening I asked if they were serving lobster. He simply said NO. Another evening I asked for Mousaka which was on the menu, for the 4 of us to share with main courses, he made it a chore to serve 1 extra serving. Most evenings the people in the dining room were not dressed up at all. To say casual is being very gracious. Many wore jeans/ tee shirts and shorts into the dining room. I have never seen such casual - sloppy dress as this sailing. No one followed a dress code even on formal night people were very lax. I would guess less then 25% of the ship looked elegant My experiences with Holland America and Celebrity were much different. People still dressed for dinner on the other ships. This was not a refined group of people. I took excursions all 5 days and had lunch at the particular destination. I had room service every AM. I was offered only Continental breakfast as my excursions left early. It was fine and delivered on time One evening after the show I went up to the Windjammer Cafe for fruit. I was SHOCKED to see it was closed at 10:15 PM. They said they close every evening by 9:30. I never saw a buffet close before 11 PM in 15 sailings. What surprised me more, is that on the day of arrival I did go up for lunch. They used plastic, not china plates! The Promenade shopping was pretty although there was nothing to buy. I did have coffee and dessert in the cafe and the staff was friendly and open 24 hours One evening I ate in Chops Grill .I wanted a good piece of steak. It was good BUT I felt the dining room should have had better quality beef and they did not. My stateroom and balcony were lovely. They were designed well with adequate space. The bathrooms were small, less then I am used to and just basic. I had to ask for and tip for a robe. I did use it through the trip but had no desire to take it home.It is a great way to save towels which the cruise should have thought of and paced in the rooms At first they wanted to charge $50 until I spoke with the cabin attendant who I did take care of and he was good. Absolutely no products were supplied. I bring my own soap and creams but have never traveled where amenities were not supplied! The Casino offered a lot of options and Schooner piano bar had a great pianist. There was so much smoke in both that I could use both only on the NO SMOKING evening. It was a shame
The Spa is pretty but expensive. I did have a massage and my hair blown. During my massage there were 3 loud announcement over the loud speaker piped into the room during a 50 minute massage. I understand the massage was during sail away, BUT there is no excuse for the announcements to boom into the massage room. In emergency the desk can send someone to get you. The location of the spa is also unusual and visible out and in. There are large glass windows that you can look out and all the walkers, joggers can look in. The Steiner staff in the spa though are great. Both the massage therapist and the hair stylist were good. It was a pity I could not relax with the announcements. The fitness center and jogging track were good. I walked every night since I could not use any of the bars, loungers, casino due to smoke I always travel in early August due to my work schedule.
In the past 4 years I took 4 cruises either Celebrity or Holland. Never in my life as in this sailing, did I see so many children and such sloppy people. There was a hugh mix of people which is to be expected when embarking in Europe. I was told by many Italians and Middle Easterners on the sailing, that they booked really inexpensively, less then 1/2 of what I paid and booked within the last 10 days .I booked less then 2 months out. Every one of these last minute people, smoked, paid very little I did pre book all the excursions and really investigated all the ports.They were very expensive, 25% more then Celebrity last year. I chose 2 destinations in Genoa and Toulon that were ever 1 1/2 hour drives. It was worth it to me to go to Cinque Terre and St Tropez. Barcelona always fantastic, was great and we had 12 hours in port. Time allotment was way to short in Palma and Sardinia. We did not have enough time on the excursions to explore the destinations. I think Royal should make better deals with the ports to stay longer for those tourists that want to explore the beautiful islands I adore sightseeing. I also like to explore. I chose this cruise because of the ports. I really feel on such a small map coverage we should have at least 8-12 hours in each port. There is time within the weeks sailing if RC wanted to spend more time Bottom line, the ship was less then ok, the food average, the ports great but needed more time. There were only a handful of passengers to my liking. It is a very average, mass market cruise. I could not use the pools after the excursions. They were packed with smokers and kids. The outdoor music was LOUD. It was not at all relaxing. The smoking literally blew me away and is not acceptable. All the smokers as Celebrity and Holland did, should have been isolated at the pool area outside not in all the lounges, bar and casino. Smokers smoked where ever they pleased, often and all over. The ship smelled awful If you want an elegant cruise do not book Royal Caribbean. If on the other hand you want to pack kids into your room, wear tee shirts, shorts and smoke this ship is for you I realize I have a budget, I choose a mid priced cruise , as I can not afford an upscale ship such as Seaborne or Regent. I travel when children are off school I never expected this. As mentioned Holland and Celebrity have a much more upscale and elegant passengers, crew and amenities few children. Royal is not good quality or value, and the cruise was not inexpensive and was smoky. I will not cruise them again