My husband and I just came off our 4th cruise with Royal Caribbean (March 5th - 10th) on Radiance of the Seas and our 6th cruise in all. We have previously sailed Navigator, Explorer and Monarch as recently as November 2009.
I would like to take this opportunity, if I may to let you know how this cruise came about and some of the things that happened on the cruise but to also acknowledge some of the wonderful people with whom we came in contact.
In January 2010 I was diagnosed with an incurable bladder disease known as Interstitial Cystitis a/k/a (painful bladder syndrome). I should mention that it does not kill you it's just incurable. For 12 months my husband and I travelled to 7 Doctors all across the state in total, looking for help of any kind. I even underwent surgery in July 2010 for a bladder pacemaker. I had never been sick a day in my life (I'm 55 years old and proud of it).
During that time I had lost close to 30 lbs. and being only 5'1" I really couldn't afford to lose that kind of weight. My intake of food was severely limited to approximately 6 items. Since everything passes through the bladder, I was always in extreme pain. I hardly ever left the house and became severely depressed which not only affected me but my entire family. I was the go to person, I was always the social director and here I was barely able to get out of bed.
In December 2010 my husband and I found an Angel of a Doctor. Although there is no cure for this disease she took a different approach not only with the medication that I was on but she treated me as an individual instead of just passing me along like the others.
For the first time I started to feel a little better. I guess you could say I was going into remission. As you can imagine this took a great toll financially, even though we have medical insurance, our out of pocket expenses were exorbitant. We'll be paying them off for years to come.
Our families got together and wanted to do something special for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. They knew how much we loved to cruise and since I was feeling better they gave us the money to purchase the cruise.
We drove the 2 hours from Orlando to Tampa and the excitement was palpable, I was feeling better, looking forward to spending time alone with my husband and celebrating. All previous 5 cruises had been spent with our children and my Mom. Not that we didn't enjoy having them with us but this was to be a special time, just the two of us and 30 years is a big deal and we had come through such a difficult 12 months.
I was concerned about all the food and knew I had to be careful about what I ate. During these last few months I was able to add a substantial amount to my diet thanks to this wonderful new Doctor that I have been seeing.
When we retired for the evening on our first night, little did we know that we would be awakened at approximately 2:00a.m. by the sounds of banging, hammering and drills. It sounded like it was coming from our closet. We couldn't imagine what was going on. We immediately called down to guest services and spoke with Karina Rodriguez, who at the time herself did not know what was happening. She assured us she would find out and call us back. She did call us and advise us that a pipe had burst and the maintenance crew were trying to fix it. It wasn't until the next morning when we got the full story. The people who were occupying the room directly below us had left the shower water running which caused the entire mess.
For the next several nights we would receive a notice in our room telling us that work was going to be done between the hours of 2:00a.m. and 4:00a.m. which would affect the flushing of the toilet and the running of the bathroom water. Also that the water would turn black and we should let it run for 15 minutes or so. Being sick I was very concerned and chose to use my evian water package for brushing my teeth. I wasn't about to take any chances.
On the 2nd night we were awakened again by the sounds of drilling and what sounded like scraping noises. We knew it must be maintenance working on the problem so there was no sense in calling guest relations. This also went on again the 3rd and 4th night.
The last night of the cruise, March 9th was the worst. We were awakened sometime around 3:45a.m. The noise was so loud that I said to my husband it sounds like someone is taking a baseball bat and just banging on pipes. It would stop for a few minutes and then start up again. Around 4:00 a.m. we called guest services and spoke with Karina Rodriguez. I could barely here myself on the phone. It was so loud that I couldn't believe we were the only ones who were hearing the noise. She said she would call back and see what she could find out. She did call back and was unable to find out where the noise was coming from. She said she would talk to security. The banging was incessant.
She said she would send security up to our room. Security came up at 4:30 a.m. by the time they arrived the banging was still happening but it seemed to have travelled further away. Security did mention that they could hear the banging but to no avail was anyone ever able to find where the noise was coming from. Karina told us the next morning that maintenance had advised her they stopped at 3:45 a.m. I don't know if there is any way to prove that or not. For if it was not maintenance then it had to be another guest(s). She had also mentioned that some workers were standing out on one of the decks.
My husband is a retired police officer from South Florida of 23 years. He worked in construction before that and he now works for Home Depot. He felt that it was a mallet that was being pounded. With his experience and knowledge of construction and tools, I seem to want to trust his instincts. In any event, we had 5 nights of constant interrupted sleep for hours on end. We never did get back to sleep that last night.
I would like to say that this was not the 30th Wedding Anniversary cruise of my dreams or my husbands. The one reason that we have travelled on Royal Caribbean is because we felt that it was a cruise ship that had a mix of people from young to old. This cruise was definitely a spring break, one of the reasons I would never cruise on Carnival, due to their reputation. This time I felt like that's where I was. Certainly when it was young people below us who left the water running. From what I understand there were 500 minors on board. We felt like we were being overtaken. If you weren't up early, trying to get a deck chair was next to impossible. We were always exhausted from not getting any sleep, therefore, we were not up early enough.
I was also very disappointed when my husband and I had reservations at Chops Grill for our Anniversary. Directly quoted from your brochure "We suggest smart casual attire in Chops Grille - jackets for men, dresses or pantsuits for women. It should also be noted that there is a sign outside the Cascades restaurant that says "no shorts, tank tops, sandals or hats". Many people apparently didn't pay much attention to that sign either.
When my husband is dressed in a jacket and tie and I myself am dressed in a fancy cocktail dress for our 30th Anniversary and we have made a reservation at Chops Grill, I don't expect to see people walk in with shorts that look like they came from the circus, mountain dew t-shirts or torn jeans and sandals. I can tell you we were not the only ones who were disturbed by this. We could hear others at tables near us talking about the same thing.
If you make a rule then you need to stick by that rule. We don't mind paying the extra money for not only the food, the service but also the ambiance. Which by the way was all impeccable, except for the ambiance when you have people sitting at tables dressed like I stated above. If I wanted to have dinner with people who wore shorts and sandals I would eat at the windjammer or poolside. It takes away from the mood and really isn't fair to those of us who not only follow the rules but look for a place to get dressed for the evening and be with others of the same ilk.
My husband chose to dress up in a tie and jacket every night except for formal night when he wore his tuxedo. I wore a formal cocktail dress every night to dinner. Now I don't expect everyone to do what we did, but I do expect that if you have a sign out that specifically says what you are not allowed to wear, then those people should be turned back to their stateroom to put on the appropriate clothing or eat somewhere else. I did express these thoughts to guest relations.
Speaking of guest relations, I would like to acknowledge the following people who we feel always had a smile, whenever they saw us coming, would call out our names to say hello and even if they couldn't fix how people dressed were extremely sympathetic and just listened. They are the following: Karina Rodriguez who took our 2am and 4am phone calls and even went looking to try and find the problem on the last night of where the noise was coming from. Joel Sanchez, who I once said to him "you probably want to run when you see me coming" replied "that is not true, that is why we are here to help you in any way we can". We had two reservations and we wanted to cancel the one at Portofinos so we could be at the dining room on our last night and he took care of everything. He also was able to change our dining time to a later hour at Chops Grill. He said I will take care of it all. Don't worry about anything. Steven Newall and his great english sense of humor. When he found out I had 6 pieces of luggage I thought he would roll on the floor laughing. I said don't mess with a woman. I need one piece just for my shoes. I loved bantering back and forth with him. But if anything was ever needed he was right there too, with a smile on his face.
Most of all I would like to thank Rosa Torres. What a special and beautiful person she is. On the first morning we went down to guest services and I asked to speak to a manager. I didn't want to air anything that happened the night before in front of a long line of people and they took us back to her office. We explained to her about the broken pipe and what happened.
That was the 1st of our 5 night lack of sleep. She asked us if we had planned any excursions and we had not. We wanted to but were concerned about the price. We only had so much money to spend. She said she wanted to do something special for us and we should pick out whatever we wanted.
One of the reasons we had picked this cruise is because of the Mayan Ruins and we had not yet purchased the tickets. We told her we really wanted to see the Ruins but the short version not the full day. She gave us two tickets to the Chacchoben excursion. She said a friend of hers had taken it and said it was wonderful. She was right. We had a terrific guide named Lety and the time spent there gave us goosebumps. Rosa even called our cabin later that day to see if we had a good time. My husband spoke with her on the phone, I was unavailable but I was sure to send her a thank you note for being the kind, gracious and generous person she is. It was great to see her again and give her a hug as we departed the pier.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it was a long letter but in order to be understood I needed to give you the whole story.