On a positive note, the ports on the Holyland cruise were amazing. To see Venice, Athens, Egypt and Israel all in one tour is wonderful. However, this cruise is poorly organized and we had several problems. There isn't much in this review on the ship or food. We take cruises for the ports. However, the food in the Windjammer was poor compared to other RCL and Celebrity cruises I have been on. They could also have a sports bar or a place that people under 40 would like to hang out. Even if they just played ESPN classic games and had pool tables/ping pong tables. Majority of the people on this ship are at least 60 years of age. But we don't mind the difference in age.
I have taken RCL and Celebrity in the past and had a wonderful experience. What is going on with this cruise? Below are the four worst parts of the cruise. However, they were generally unorganized the entire time. For example, they could not find us by our stateroom number in the computer half of the time they asked us. This is one of many mild problems below are my four biggest that really contributed to a poor experience on this cruise.
1. Our room was moldy. I am allergic to mold and it took them 7 days to get us out of the room. So, I spent my honeymoon sick and am still coughing. By most people's standards the room might have been okay after the bathroom was cleared of mold. But I was still sick. They are dry docking the boat in November. So, problem should be fixed for future passengers.
2. The tour in Egypt was wonderful (Grand Overland tour). We did Luxor and Cairo in two days. However, the Jerusalem and Bethlehem tour was horrible. The tour group was way too big for such a busy location. When we went to Jerusalem the tour guide had us walk behind the group with a lollipop with the group number on it because we were the only young able bodied people who would do it. Then he proceeded to leave us with 25 of the 45 people at the Via Dolorosa. There were several elderly people with COPD, heart failure, and canes. They were all looking to us to take care of them. We cannot be expected to take care of elderly people when we are paying 175 to take a tour on our honeymoon. We missed the entire tour talk because we were taking care of elderly people. The whisper ear pieces do not work if you are too far away from the guide. He kept walking away from us even though I asked him to slow down. Then he proceeded to yell at me when I asked him to slow down for some of the elderly people I was trying to take care of. It is an impossible situation to be yelled at by the guide to get people to hurry that are too sick to walk fast. I don't want someone to die! This is not the way you treat people who are trying to help you by holding the RCL lollipop to keep the group together. When we complained to the cruise we only received 35% of our money back which is not sufficient for our experience. It was horrible! Not to mention it ruined the highlight day of the cruise for us. We missed the most important part of the most important day of the trip! We also were made to be in a gift shop for over an hour in Bethlehem. Not to mention the ship was over an hour late getting us off the ship and we were all herded off the ship like cattle. We were stuck with all of these people in the hallway of the first deck. Other people started having anxiety attacks from it. It was really an odd situation.
3. In Venice we got off the boat early on the morning we were leaving and they tried to make us take a tour to Murano for 42 Euros instead of the 6 Euros water taxi. They would not give us directions to the water taxi to go ourselves. I have been to Venice multiple times and just wanted to visit a shop in Murano. There were about 20 people standing outside of the boat asking for the same taxi service they received the night before right from the dock to San Marco's square. But we were all told we had to take this tour to Murano. They wanted to go to San Marco's square. So, we had to walk off and ask random people on the street the directions. If you are in the same situation, the water taxi is over the bridge to the right about a 15 minute walk and is 6 Euros. It can take you anywhere near there. The attendants speak English.
4. We had a horrible time booking our airport transfer off of the boat. We were told that it would be taken care of because of our moldy room. Then we ended up not getting tickets in our room. This was after checking back with the desk several times and being told they were sure it was being taken care of. Then they had us get off the boat with the earliest group because of our flight time that was book through Royal Caribbean. Some of the desk clerks could not even figure out how to look up our flight and others had it easily. We were assured our luggage would be on the deck when we got off even though they knew it was with a much later groups color. When we got to the deck there was no luggage for an additional hour and a half. Subsequently, we almost missed our plane. This caused us to have to fight to get to the front of the line at the airport in a foreign country.
I meet the hotel director George. He went on the highlight of the trip for us, the Egypt Grand Overland tour. He solved my mold problem they day after I told him. He was great in general. The majority of the staff was very nice and professional. We only had a problem with Alberto at guest services being rude and unhelpful. He also miss lead us to believe we would have luggage with our transfer to the airport resulting in us almost missing our flight home. The staff in charge of organizing things seemed unequipped to take care of things. The computer system seemed to be a problem.
It is a good thing I have been on other RCL and Celebrity cruises before or I would never cruise with RCL again. Please fix this cruise. The ports are too good to have such a poorly run cruise.
I would do it over again but I would not take the cruise's shore excursions in Israel. I would book privately. Even if I would have had a better tour guide the groups were still 45 people. It is very busy there and you have to walk through tight areas. It is too easy to get lost in a group that size. The people who booked their tours privately had a much better time because of more manageable tour group sizes. A manageable size would be 10 to 15 people.