We were traveling with another couple and we drove to Venice from Germany and the last leg of the drive, from Padua into the Venice port was frustrating. The driving directions were extremely poor and we were unsure most of the way. We eventually got directions to the port area and made it. Hooray! Embarkation was relatively smooth; checked in, got our Set-Sail passes and received our luggage within a few hours.
Our room was lovely, a large outside stateroom on the second floor...standard in most ways...perfectly adequate. Our one disappointment was that there was no refrigerator in the room. That was a first for us. The steward explained that the suites on the upper floors have refrigerators, but we weren't so lucky. I began to realize that this was an older ship, and then it was mentioned that this ship was to go to dry-dock in November for refurbishment. Now I must say that it was a lovely ship. What is needed probably is an update in spots...like mini refrigerators in all the suites...the ship could use some specialty restaurants, especially for those longer cruises when the food in the dining room starts to get on your nerves. Our steward was Frankie and he was wonderful and he was responsive to all our requests.
We usually try to go to the Dining Room. We enjoy being served instead of the rigors of the Windjammer where we try to negotiate getting a table, balancing our drinks on a platter, etc. The breakfasts and lunches in the Dining Room were lovely and again, the staff was responsive to all our requests. I love the breakfast bar and the lunch bar in the Dining Room where you have a lovely selection of cereals for breakfast and salads for lunch. This is a lovely addition to the Dining service. I always enjoy the interesting hot and cold soups on board. Our dinner table was lovely and we joined with the table next to ours for a table of 8 (lovely people). Our head waiter was Carlos, his assistant was Charlene and our bar waitress was Gloria Gloria. All were absolutely wonderful. They were extremely helpful and responsive. They would have our standard requests ready for us at the table when we arrived. We cannot say enough about how wonderful our Dinner staff was! They were so friendly and just wonderful.
My only real complaints were with the service desk and the internet service. The internet service was extremely slow and extremely expensive. When I complained at one point, the service desk person was not particularly nice or sympathetic. At the prices they charged, the service should have been much, much better. That is a real turn off to me and to a lot of people. No one minds paying for service, but the service needs to be good. On several other occasions when the service desk was called, they were very unresponsive. In one case we were wanting to borrow a wheel chair for someone who had fallen. Getting the wheel chair involved at least 4 separate phone calls to the service desk. The only service person who was helpful was June and she eventually followed up and got us the wheel chair.
The ports were wonderful. We only used Royal Caribbeans port trips for Athens and it was a good trip, efficiently handled. Having gone on private tours in Cairo and the Holy Land I was curious how they would handle a bus full of people at the Acropolis and I must say that our guide ran the tour like a Master Sergeant! She was nice, efficient and very firm with us. Doing 2 days in Egypt and then 2 days in the Holy Land was really rough on our legs; it would have been nice to have a day in between, but whatever! We survived. Split, Croatia was a lovely end to the trip, a nice, relaxing stop.
We felt like we were away for a month. We met some wonderful people. It really was an experience of a lifetime. Most of the people we met had never expected to have the opportunity to see these wonderful places and it really brings home the reason for Royal Caribbean to do their good work. These trips are very important to some people and they are "once in a lifetime" experiences. My thanks to RC for making it so special.