9-11-11 - Allure of the Seas - WOW
We arrived in Ft Lauderdale and met our friends Roger & Kat at baggage claim. We rented a car one way from Avis to be returned at the port. We both stayed at the Roadway Inn on State Rd 84. Rooms are reasonable and clean for a one night stay. For dinner we ventured to the Outback Steakhouse on SE 10th Ave Ft Lauderdale. Yuk! It was probably the worst meal we have had on land in a long, long time. The bathrooms smelled like pee and the food was WAY over salted. We will not return there as Checkers or McDonalds would have been tastier and more sanitary.
We arrived at the pier and boarded rather quickly. No issues whatsoever with the personnel at check in or the boarding process.
First impression after getting onto the ship....WOW! It was huge! Very well done and although there were a lot of people waiting for the cabins to open, we only felt crowded in the windjammer. Lunch there was pretty poor. Less choices as that of other Royal ships and we found the food to be subpar there. I was wondering if they let the cook from the Outback onboard. The central park was amazing, and hot until the ship started moving.
We had booked a D8 balcony, Cabin 8138. The room was found to be clean but smaller than the E2 Balconies on Freedom or Voyager Class Ships. Storage was an issue compared to other cabins were have sailed in. Our steward was Ryan. He was absolutely one of the highlights of this sailing. He took care of all our needs promptly and courteously. The welcome back gift and nightly chocolates on the pillows were a welcome sight. WOW - Thanks Ryan and RCL for going back to the small touches!
The Concierge in the Diamond lounge Rahim was very good. Also Jaime & Roberto who were the bartenders there were awesome! We did enjoy the lounge every evening. Bjorn was a blast as always (we have sailed with him several times in the past. WOW - Great Job guys!
Dinner on the first night was compliments of Roger & Kat at Giovanni's, an alternate dining venue ($). It was hard to read the menu because of the dim lighting, but oh my, the meal was wonderful! After the dinner, we explored the ship some more. I did have to go to guest relations because one of my bags was not delivered although I never received a call to visit them. The lady at guest relations had me follow her to a back room where there were 15-20 bags as well as mine. I was asked to open my bag because I was flagged for liquids. I opened the bag, removed the case of water and they inspected my two 12 packs of seven up that we had brought onboard and apologized for the inconvenience.
We went to the evening show Chicago. Excellent show! We all really enjoyed it as it was done very professionally by their entertainment staff. After the show, Donna and I went to take in Jimmy Blakemore in the pub. We had him on the Mariner 2 years ago and really enjoyed his playing & singing. WOW - what a show! I think it may have been the best we have seen at sea on any ship.
Upon returning to our cabin, some of our door decorations were missing (on night one at that!) I explained to the man at guest services that we had some of our belongings pilfered, gave him the 3 megapixel cameras that can see the cabin door, and asked that they please look at video between 11-1 to see if they could determine who stole it. This fellow went in the back and brought out Francesco who proceeded to tell me in a very condescending way, that it was not important to them and they cannot look at their video. This was absurd! I happen to run a very large security company in Denver CO and I know the capabilities of these Axis M3014 cameras. To look at the activity in the hall over the 2 hour period would take maybe 10 minutes since there was minimum people moving in the hall at these hours. WOW - Imagine telling your customer that they are unimportant!
I returned to my cabin, got one of my business cards, wrote the times and camera addresses as well as my cabin number on it and went back down to deliver it to Francesco. I told him I would be expecting a call from the hotel director in the morning to address his attitude and the stolen items. After being rudely interrupted several times by this member of guest services, I finally got my point across. He walked into the back room and returns with one of my stolen items. Now, after sailing RCCL many many times and being a diamond member, I am used to some things being taken from the door decorations. I have never been treated this badly by a staff member (especially one from guest services). If this was my first cruise I absolutely would not sail the line a second time. RCCL should address this and transfer Francesco to a position that does not have to deal with the public as he is a liability to the company with his attitude and rudeness. WOW again - whatever happened to customer service?
Our first day at sea was very nice. Breakfast at the windjammer was awful. The eggs were slimy and there was no omelets station. The bacon was deep fried and the sausage was cold. We were also told it is a charge for V8....a first for us in the windjammer. We did find out that Johnny Rockets serves eggs to order and they were much better (and hot). The meet and mingle we got to meet some lovely folks and it was well organized. We had lunch in the MDR and absolutely loved the salad bar. Dinner we went to the MDR where we met our waiter Austin, his assistant Roger, and the head waiter Tanja. Service was excellent! Shrimp cocktails were arranged for this and every night. The food was perfect Hots were hot, colds were cold, all served in a timely manner.
Labadee, we had booked the "Labadee Snorkel Safari" arranged through the ship. The staff was awesome on the catamaran, but there was no head and the area we were taken to snorkel left a lot to be desired. Next time we will not waste the money on this excursion.
After we returned to the ship we did a little more exploring around the ship. We did love the I-pads scattered throughout the ship. There was never a line to use them and the interactive TV was another great feature. It was cool to use them to navigate the fastest way to get to a venue elsewhere on the ship. WOW - great feature!
Falmouth. Although this is historic Falmouth, we got off the ship to a beautiful, although still unfinished, pier. It even smelled new. We had booked the "Falmouth & Montego Bay at Leisure" tour through RCCL. What a waste of money! It by far was the worst excursion we have ever taken. You are taken by bus to a shopping area in Mo Bay, half the stores are closed, never are you given a chance to get out of the bus to take a picture or two.....it doesn't even stop along the road except at red lights! The tour guide left a lot to be desired as we were promised to try this or that later.....which never happened. WOW - We should have stayed on the ship!
Cozumel was a wonderful day as we went to Paradise Beach on our own. Service there was excellent as well as the food! The shrimp ceviche was killer! Overall, the cost was cheaper than Nachi Cocum or Mr Sancho's. The facilities were much cleaner than the others, and the food and service were far superior. Their new pool and patio surrounding it were wonderful (no swim up bar though) This was a great day!
(Paradise beach gets a WOW here!)
The other two sea days were typical. Abracadabra & Blue Planet shows were top notch! WOW- Great entertainment!
Finally, We did have an issue with some of the staff in the MDR on the last sea day. Before we sat at our table (1:10pm) we were rudely told to hurry up and order if we wanted something from the kitchen as they wanted to close it. Ummmm, the dining room is open to 1:30. This was uncalled for. Donna also had a problem with 2 staff members (and a cart) who were chit chatting in one of the pinch points by the salad bar blocking access to the tables. She said excuse me and they totally ignored her, continuing their conversation without moving themselves or their cart. This is unacceptable especially since she is disabled and had a extremely hard time getting past them. Over the course of a week, I was bumped into seven different times by crew members without even a pardon me or anything. Overall, this ship's crew seemed to have an "I don't give a crap attitude" as they may not even see you again during the seven days. Overall, the week beat going to work, but I now realize the bigger isn't always better.....especially when it comes to the customer service we are used to getting on other ships. 10-30% higher fares for 30% less customer service doesn't seem like it is a worthwhile investment for my hard earned cash.
There were children evident all through the cruise, which we expected, and most were well behaved. Also, there were 2 places to take in the ocean....our balcony & the top deck. It was kind of like hanging out at a mall.....no windows in the public area to see the ocean. Next time, we will not be sailing the beasts as the bad service and the negatives outweighed the positives. The beasts are just not our cup of tea and I hope that RCL is not going to this direction across its fleet with all the extra charge stuff.....or we may start shopping the competition and looking at alternatives.