My partner and I have visited the Emirates before and stayed in hotels. I was eager to try a cruise and he took some convincing. However this seemed an ideal compromise. We flew with BA (world traveller plus) and stayed in Sofitel in Dubai for 3 nights before embarking. Hotel was nice and in good location. We arranged our own transfer to the ship which was without problem and it was quick and easy embarking the ship.
Things went downhill from then on. Although we had never cruised before, there appeared to be too many people for the ship to accommodate comfortably. The 'windjammer' was always busy and proved difficult at peak times to get a seat anywhere. The sunbeds were an absolute joke. They were so tightly packed that it was difficult to actually get on and off them. That is is you could manage to obtain one in the first place. The ship has a policy that beds cannot be left unattended for more than half an hour but this is not enforced.
Accommodation was very small but kept clean. Entertainment was poor and very 'butlins', as was the quality of the food in our opinion. We only went to the dining room once and had to wait an age. Don't bother with 'my time dining' as you will soon find that it is not your time choice at all (unless you reserve a table at least 24 hours in advance). Despite only using the dining room (minstrel) once, all gratuities were automatically deducted from our credit card. SHAMEFUL! We went to Choppes Grille - good steak but nothing to write home about and Portofino was awful -food was cold and mediocre and service was poor.
We didnt get off the ship at first port of call as we knew there was not much to do. We did not book any tours with RC as they were already squeezing too much money out of us. We got off at Oman and paid a taxi driver to give us a tour of Sultans Palace and some of the nice hotels and then went to a private beach which was lovely and well worth a visit. In Abu Dhabi we caught the tour bus to Marina Mall and got a cab to Emirates Palace and then spent the day at the Hilton (you can buy a day pass to use private beach and pool and restaurant facilities). In Dubai we visited some malls and then found a little public beach and park. We then went to the Marina (Festival city mall) and ate at the Intercontinental Hotel which was fantastic.
RC purports to offer a 5 star service. No RC, you offer a 3 star service and charge 5 star prices