WARNING: Royal Caribbean refused to take my food allergies seriously. I suffered severe to life-threatening symptoms throughout my cruise because of staff providing misinformation about ingredients and the mishandling of my food orders. Other passengers expressed similar problems to me. RCI has been non-responsive.
I sincerely wish the following didn't happen but I hope you can benefit by reading my review.
1 out of 5...Guest Relations
I cannot speak more poorly of any guest services cruise experience than of that on the Brilliance. Every encounter, every transaction with this department ranged from ineffective to insulting. This included meetings with supervisor Lotfi and Dept. Manager Adrian Fernandez and even Patrick Olin, Hotel Director, who we spoke with on the final day of the cruise for over an hour. Patrick said he understood the significance of the health issues and constant problems we faced and would speak with corporate about it. Nothing was done to encourage us to give Royal Caribbean another opportunity.
2 out of 5...Dining
I had to use emergency medications to breathe after dining on specially prepared 'allergen-free' dishes which I pre/special ordered at the main dining room. Misinformation from chefs at the buffet caused moderate to severe allergy
reactions from foods I was assured were 'safe' for me. No on-board dining was safe no matter what I did to impress the staff about my medical condition.
We elected for "My Dining" - open-time dining, so we could eat when we were hungry. By day 5 we were told reservations were required. We found the limited hours at both the dining room and buffet inconvenient.
3 out of 5...Dining Staff
The dining staff tried to please but often shared excuses as to why service was less than optimal. The Head Waiter tried to correct errors as her sister also had food allergies and so was sympathetic. But the errors were coming from the kitchen and there was little she could do about that. She was congenial and we admired that she worked very hard to coordinate a busy dining room.
3 out of 5...Food
The food presentation was very good, the quality did not always match. At buffet, friendly signs encouraged asking for a Chef to be called whenever there was a question about ingredients, sometimes the staff resisted. The worst part was receiving inaccurate information causing me to suffer multiple symptoms throughout the cruise as I could not identify the offending food items. On day 10, my gums were bleeding so a dining supervisor insisted the Head Chef come speak with us. That's when we finally learned about the ingredient misinformation. This is Outrageous!
1 out of 5...Room Service
One night, after discovering the dining room was too full to accept reservations until near closing, we elected to have our dinners brought to our cabin. One dinner arrived an hour and a half later, the second arrived 45 minutes after the first - Neither labeled 'allergy-free' so I couldn't eat either. Although we canceled the second dinner, Room Service still knocked and woke us despite the 'Do Not Disturb' sign on our door. Dishes would clutter hallways for several hours.
4 out of 5...Ship dEcor
We appreciated the tasteful muted colors with richly colored woods and nautical theme throughout. It was kept very clean. We especially liked the art deco elevators. Most rooms and areas were easy to find and offered comfortable seating.
2 out of 5...Ship Design
Yelling over the live band 20 feet from Guest Relation's is required every afternoon/evening. We don't know how they do it. Enjoyable live music seemed everywhere in the evenings, however, there were no quiet places as an alternative. Even Guest Relations was unable to suggest a quiet place and our first cabin was too noisy to rest.The beautiful centrum was impressive but so many rooms (library, Internet and more) opened to it that band noise made it hard to read/focus.
3 out of 5...Cabin
Our first cabin had plumbing issues and the bathroom door trapped me inside for several minutes. It was never fully repaired. 3006 is right under the theater near the orchestra pit so noise was significant. We lost a lot of sleep the first 5 days/nights due to late night performances and daytime rehearsals. We missed out on Florence, Italy due to exhaustion. Everyday, as staff suggested, we renewed our request to be moved to another cabin. 6 days later we were finally moved to an cabin which had been empty the entire time. Our second cabin was much quieter and we were finally able to get the rest we
needed. The cabins show obvious signs of wear and tear an short shower curtains caused the bathroom to flood with every
3 out of 5...Cabin Service
Our first cabin's steward was the bright star of the staff. Idewa was excellent, friendly and very helpful in virtually every way. Like many staff, he struggled with English but ultimately exceeded at fulfilling our requests. The cabin steward to the second cabin, 3082, was the opposite and even missed cleaning the cabin twice. By the way, ice is not directly available to passengers and must be special requested.
4 out of 5...Ports/Destinations
Without a doubt, the very best part of our cruise was off ship! Hint: if you like to travel independently, do your homework first. This cruise line offers overviews but did not offer enough specifics on transportation and other necessities for easy independent excursions. Some ports have helpful tourist information desks, others don't so pre-trip preparation is a necessity.
We considered booking tours but after our extremely poor Guest Relation's/staff experiences so we decided not to risk it. We weren't expecting this and it did make things a little harder but we enjoyed the ports on our own.
The main problem we had with the cruise, other than the obvious food/health issues, was there were so many minor problems and such poor attitudes among the staff. Finger pointing and blaming others was common. We are from California and have neutral accents, my companion is fluent in Spanish too, yet staff often had trouble understanding us or wouldn't make the effort to. We would ask an easy question like, "What time may we call to make a reservation?" and the staff person would say "Yes" even though we spoke slowly and repeated ourselves. We also couldn't get answers to simple questions such as: What do we do if the ship leaves port without us since you took our passports? (If it wasn't for reading Cruise Critic we wouldn't have even known they were going to take our passports from us. RCI's website has a small side note that says they might take them.) It wasn't until the last day of the cruise, when we met with the hotel director that we finally learned that the
passports of any who missed the ship would be left with the port authority for retrieval. Was that really so tough a question for the boarding personnel or guest relations to answer?
We discovered Cruise Critic reviews to be spot on. One said the ports were the best part of the cruise - we agree. Another said the food looked great but fell short on taste - we agree. Another warned that staff was not quick to rectify cabin and plumbing issues, correct again. We also agree with other reviewers that the dEcor was warm muted colors with richly colored woods. The public areas were kept clean and the nautical theme tasteful. But we didn't see anyone mention the cavalier attitude toward food allergies and I felt that this was so significant that it needed to be posted on Cruise Critic.
A passenger I met said he bribes a chef to personally oversee his food preparations, another said they absolutely insisted on being provided with food ingredient labels even if personnel resisted, that being rude was the only way to get the necessary information. Neither of those options appealed to me but on Royal Caribbean, extreme measures appear necessary - Whether or not you have any food allergies, pass over Royal Caribbean - you'll be glad you did.