We booked in April 2010 for our cruise in September and were advised that this was the best price and it would NOT get any lower.We appreciate that last minute deals are often available but we wanted to go on the cruise, so we booked it.Imagine our surprise when other guests told us they booked in June and got large discounts, hardly last minute, Thanks RCCL, for nothing. We left Edinburgh for the cruise from Venice and opted for a cruise lines pre cruise hotel package. The flight times were very unreasonable, having to be at the airport at 04.05hrs. in the morning and not arriving in Venice until 16.45hrs. Twelve hours and 40 minutes from Edinburgh to Venice. !!!!!! These were obviously the cheapest flights that Royal Caribbean could get.We were met by a charming rep. from the local tour company, who took us to our hotel, (The Carlton Grand Canal),given our room key and we discovered that it was looking out onto a back alley. Unlucky !!! Next morning we were awakened before 6 a.m. with the noise of a toilet being flushed and a shower and bath running and noisy and banging pipes. It appears that the bathroom of the adjacent room was directly through the main lengthwise wall of our room.We spoke to the hotel management who basically apologised but shrugged their shoulders, saying those guests were leaving that day, but not, that new guests were arriving later, you guessed it, same again, but a little later next day, thankfully we only had three nights.The charge made by RCCL of £ 496.32 per person was silly money,and we would have expected better treatment from RCCL, obviously not. I asked the hotel about booking direct and their rates were more favourable, and the rooms better.
We have often championed RCCL as being excellent for quality,service and standards but we were now having second thoughts.
We were transferred to the ship early on the day BEFORE sailing and feel that as the ship was staying overnight we could have been allowed longer at the hotel. The transfer again by the local company was fine, but when we arrived at the port, we were VERY surprised to find NO ONE from RCCL to advise us where we should go. Eventually we saw a sign saying, vision of the seas, and a berth number.We followed this until we saw a lonely looking man with a small paddle,which could not be read from more than 4 or 5 metres, with RCCL and an arrow pointing into a terminal, where it took about an hour, waiting in a long line to be attended to. This is why we felt it was pointless having such an early transfer, why not give passengers the opportunity to arrive later, after all the ship was staying overnight, this was the transfer included by RCCL and arranged by RCCL, a little more thought needed perhaps.
We eventually got on board, where a limited crew were available and we decided to locate our cabin. A member of the crew stopped us and asked where we going, and politely told us that the cabins were not available, go to the windjammer for lunch.
When we did get to our cabin, it was excellent and we met our steward, who was very friendly, things looking up, !!!!
Sadly the service in the dining room was very slow and the food sometimes cold or lukewarm.
I had to return soup on at least three (3) occassions, including twice at the same meal.
Other guests also returned courses that were incorrectly cooked.
At breakfast I asked for poached eggs, and was told they are not on the menu,so they are not available, strange, are they so difficult.
To have to wait one hour and ten minutes between first and second course also is not encouraging.
One lunch time we simply walked out because of the slow service.
We also ate in the windjammer a couple of times but were disappointed that even here, although the plates were often hotter than in the dining room, the food was not very hot and often the gravy was cold.
There was no wine waiter in the dining room with the table waiters and their assistants having to double up, thus slowing service down also.
We also noticed that guests who arrived after us were often leaving as we were receiving our main courses.
The shore excursions were excellent and the drivers and guides were friendly and knowledgeable but the trips were very,very expensive, and did we REALLY have to visit TWO papyrus factory outlets, at the expense of spending more time in the Museum in Cairo or other historical sites.
We prebooked our trips and RCCL took the money at the time of booking, it was not added to our on board account like several other cruise lines. So be warned.
The ship had no postcards for sale, and they were charging $2 for postage, I was assured they would go with the agents that day, but discovered two days later that the mail was still on board and would not be posted until we returned to Venice at the end of the cruise. so now we know why RCCL mail never arrives until after you have returned home.
The entertainemnt was mixed but the production shows were not nearly as slick as other cruise lines and some of the special guest acts were sadly, passed their sell by dates.
The cost of the drinks on board were very,very expensive, and a lot of guests were commenting on this, also, to run out of bottles of the less expensive wine on the first day and then another wine two days later, seems to suggest something is wrong.
Tea bags was another issue, with waiters having to scurry off to try to find regular teabags, after offering only a selection of Earl Grey or flavoured ones.
Dismebarkation was the usual 'get them off get the next lot on'.
Sadly again NO ONE from the ship was on shore to advise passengers which way to go and with another ship using the same disembarkation route, it was difficult to know which way to go. Again we had to hang around the airport for a long time before being allowed to check in at 12.10hrs. and then not arriving back into Edinburgh until 21.20hrs. There are other points, including the fact that RCCL have not even had the courtesy of writing a reply to my letter of the 8th.October 2010.
Are they not interested.!!!!
To summarise,we were very,very disappointed at the quality of service, quality of food and lack of value for money from this cruise. RCCL's standards have dropped dramatically since our last cruise with them and I don't consider they now run even a close fourth behind PRINCESS, CUNARD or P.& O.