With more than 30 cruises under our belts, I think I have a pretty good 'base' for comparison purposes. You can review the cruise ports on many sites so I'll concentrate on the ship and services.
We drove to the pier and arrived around 10am. There was a long line on Port Terminal Blvd but we learned that most of the traffic was from people parking on the right hand side of the road to wait to pick up disembarking passengers. If you arrive before 11am drive up the left side to get to luggage drop off and you'll see that it virtually empty. We dropped of the luggage and then proceeded to park the car for $19/day. From the car it's a 1 minute walk to the tent which they refer to as the terminal. I'm still not sure why they forced us to drop off the luggage before we parked the car as we could have parked the car and dragged the luggage the 1000 feet to drop it off.
We're Diamond members, so check in was a breeze and then they put in this small room which probably held 100 people to wait to board. At least they had coffee, water and cookies to kill time. At 11:30 we proceeded to board the ship which involves you boarding a bus for the distance of about 2 ship lengths. Somehow they need to figure out how to build a covered walkway and do away with the buses. We had express debarkation so you can imagine what a pain it was to drag you luggage onto this bus. It would have been quicker to walk to the terminal.
The ship is 10 years old and it's in pretty good shape but I hear it's going in soon for refurbishing. It may have been the time of year but we found they're to be many older people on the ship and believe me, I'm no spring chicken. I kept telling the wife that they should have motorized scooter races in the Promenade but she just keeps telling me that I need therapy. It may be because of the location of the port and the people it attracts but I found many people to be rude especially when it came to elevator etiquette. No matter what the age, some of these people think they can just push their way on no matter when they arrive or how big they are.
Now for the service on the ship; all the cutbacks that RCCL has made during the recessionary times are starting to affect the quality of the food, entertainment and service of the employees.
We have always been ones who enjoyed the shows after dinner but this entertainment was pathetic. The ship board singers and dancers performed 4 nights and this saves a ton of money. There were 5 nights when they brought on outside performers but we only considered 2 of the 5 to be decent. Many people liked the Violinist if you're into that sort of thing. The Unexpected Boys were like a high school group trying to imitate the Jersey Boys.......Poor
Our Cabin steward was Alfredo on deck 7 and he didn't do a good job cleaning the ship between sailings. I found a couple of pears in the cupboard above the safe when we embarked which I considered an oversight, but the next day I found someone's socks and ties in the clothes closet from the previous cruise so if you missing these items, you're outta luck.
It was only when the Head Waiter made some comments which I considered to be rude that I decided to report the 2 incidents to Guest Services.
Being Diamond members, we had access to the lounge before dinner but I was into my second cocktail before the waiter asked for my card and informed me that only wine and Champagne are free. This is different from Celebrity but because the room steward didn't put the Diamond member benefit letter in my cabin we we're unaware of the policy. I complained to the Crown and Anchor team and after 10 days and 3 visits, this issue was resolved.
For those of you who decide to prepay the gratuities, be aware that I questioned 3 different people at Guest Services and was told that you CANNOT adjust the gratuities downwards. I have never done this in the past but I was so upset at the room steward, I figured why give him the full amount if he didn't provide the full service.
It appears that RCCL's answer to all issues is to send chocolate covered strawberries to your cabin because we received 3 plates of these. My answer to the issue is to send a letter to Corporate to see how they'll treat a dedicated customer.
In the past we have been one who would always recommended RCCL but it took only one cruise with numerous problems to change our perception.