First let me make one assumption about this company. From my experience I must assume that there is a terrible disconnect between Royal Caribbean the company and Royal Caribbean the Ship, Crew and Staff. Therefore I will say up front that I trust and respect the Ships Crew and Staff immensely. I cannot say the same about the Company folks.
PLEASE READ THE LAST FEW PARAGRAPHS, even if you skim through the rest.
I left for my 16 day voyage with eager anticipation and hopefulness of a wonderful trip, sadly the first day was marked with Aircraft troubles between The States and Dubai. I had to rebook to fly into Abu Dhabi, missing Dubai altogether. I immediately contacted Royal Caribbean and they advised that this would pose no trouble what-so-ever and that the Ship and Crew would be expecting me the following day in Abu Dhabi. This was NOT the case. Once I arrived at the port in Abu Dhabi no one there was the wiser. It took quite a bit of explaining and pleading with the port security to give me approval for me to gain entrance to the port. Bear in mind its 98f degrees and I'm not the only one trying to board. Once at the ship, again no one seemed to be expecting us. After lots of confusion and answering the same questions over and over again we were finally aboard. Again there was total confusion by the staff.
The ship itself is dated in decor. The overall appearance is tired and looks worn. Lots of fake effects with notes of brass, glass and lots and lots of mirrors.
The food was hardly edible and after 5 days at sea starting to look as tired and worn as the ship herself. If you wish to order room service from the 3 or 4 items offered, get the cold salad, because when it does finally arrive it'll be cold, what ever it was. Oh and there is a "late-night" surcharge, so be prepared. Of course there are NO other dining options for late night, so why not try to make a few extra bucks!
The specialty dining rooms do offer some refuge from the boring and uninspired food in the two "free" dining rooms, but not by much. If they aren't closed for a private function (as on my cruise the majority of the nights they were), it might be worth the extra money just for an escape.
Bear in mind that EVERYTHING has a dollar attached to it. At dinner when ordering a bottle of wine, FIRST you MUST present your "Sea-Pass" card before they will even consider serving you. This is cheap. I over heard many of my fellow passengers complaining and moaning about the pricing on aboard. One man claimed to be charged for an envelope at the front desk, and the over all attitude was sorrowful that things had to be this way.
I went to play BINGO one day and was asked for 36 dollars for four cards. The prize if I was so lucky? A "Will & Kate" Union Jack Flag from the decorations on the ship for the previous days Royal Wedding tribute. Thats right 36 bucks for their garbage!
I went to yoga, one of the few activities offered that I actually had interest. 12 dollar fee please. Keep in mind this is a 16 day cruise.
You can quickly figure out that Royal Caribbean figured out early that anything of slight interest (which there are few and far between) they'll charge for. If you would rather spend your days listening to dull lectures or stringing beads for "jewelry" class thats fine, though I see no reason to leave the "old-folks home" to do that.
The majority of people just hung out and waited for it to be over.
The entertainment was on par with the cheapest of Atlantic City lounge performances, and although the shows are included, again this was a 16 day cruise. Lots of the same shows repeating. Gross.
No lets get juicy!
The ship left me stranded in Italy. I was to meet the ship in the port of Livorno, one of its last ports of call. I had rented a car in Rome and drove up through Tuscany. On board NO ONE on the crew even hinted or suggested that I should do otherwise. It was reasonable to believe that the ship would meet me in Livorno. This did NOT happen. They left me STRANDED with out my life sustaining medications. They left me STRANDED, with out clothing or personal items. They left me STRANDED with out advise or consul as to what I should do. When I called Royal Caribbean to ask where the ship was after running around the port for 3 hours looking, they offered NO explanation. I was totally ON MY OWN at this point. To Date they have still offered NO explanation.
I had to find arrangements to get to Rome in the middle of the night on a standing room only train that was pitch black dark and stank of Calcutta in the summer. I had to cough up 300 bucks to change my ticket home, I had to cough up money on top of money on top of money to see that I got home safely and TO DATE, Royal Caribbean had offered NO assistance in returning my personal items left on board, leaving it completely up to me to arrange getting these items home. They are now stuck in US Customs for how long? I cant get an answer.
Royal Caribbean has NOT even so much as offered me an apology.
PLEASE consider these last few paragraphs before EVER giving them your money. It is imperative while traveling that you have trust that your interests are being looked after. My experience shows that this is NOT the case with Royal Caribbean. They are more than happy to play their game, and more than happy to ignore things that disrupt their game.