We travel quite often, both in the United States and Europe. Normally, we choose to cruise if the itinerary and cost fit into our plans. This cruise filled our desires to see Israel and Turkey as these are places we have not previously visited. The cruise allowed us brief views of both of these countries as well as looks at Naples and some Greek ports. Overall, the cruise offered excellent value and the service was superb except for a couple of issues that will be discussed later in the review.
Pre-embarkation and embarkation. We arrived at FCO the day prior and stayed overnight to spend the night at the port. I was disappointed Royal Caribbean did not offer transportation from FCO to the port but we were able to coordinate a van with two other couples thanks to cruise critic message boards. Unfortunately, the van driver did not show up. Luckily, we were able to book a van for the same cost by negotiating at the baggage claim door. At the port, our hotel was Porti de Roma and was very serviceable. The room was clean and the staff was extremely helpful. We easily walked from the hotel to the port entrance with one large rolling bag each. We entered the port at the port entrance gate (Southeast corner of the old Fort) and jumped on one of the shuttle buses provided by the Port of Rome. This bus dropped us off at the embarkation point. The departure process was extremely easy and took no more than 15 min. Public areas and state room. The public areas were extremely nice and totally clean with three exceptions. The only area showing wear was the hallway in front of our state room. The carpeting in this area was worn and should have been replaced. The library looked nice but was totally inadequate. By the end of the second day there were virtually no books available in English. If you cruise on mariner of the seas make sure and bring all of your own reading material. The Internet/online service was extremely disappointing. First of all was the cost. There were several plans available either by the minute or a pay in advance plan that offered a slightly reduced rate. These plans varied from slightly over to slightly under $40 an hour. In my opinion this is an outrageous cost. Royal Caribbean advertised the ability to connect wirelessly from some rooms. My computer was able to detect a wireless connection but I was never able to establish the proper user-name/password to use the service. There was never any one in the Internet area that could help me with this problem. Finally,the ability to use a printer was nearly nonexistent. On several occasions I wanted to print confirmations of private excursions. There was seldom paper in the printer and I could never get anyone to respond to calls for service. Finally, I stopped calling for help and just assumed there would never be any paper in the printer. On a happier note our state room was extremely nice and had adequate storage. The bed was comfortable, the shower worked well and was large enough, the television and phone worked and the balcony was great. I recently cruised on Carnival and they provided a large amount of soaps, toothpaste, creams and even a razor with extra blades and shaving cream. Much less of this was provided by Royal Caribbean. Service. The service was fantastic. I could not have asked for better service from either our waitstaff in the dining rooms or our room attendant. I cannot say enough about this. If I cruise with Royal Caribbean again it will be because of the wonderful service we received.
Entertainment and shows. The entertainment was very good. We saw one of the special entertainers. She was fabulous. We were never able to properly schedule the ice show. I understand this could have been done over the Internet prior to the cruise. If that's the case, I highly recommend you do this. Everyone raved about the show and we could just never make it happen. I chalk this up to my fault rather than Royal Caribbean's.
Dining. Breakfast. We ate all but one breakfast in the Windjammer Cafe. We were extremely pleased with the Windjammer. The hot food was hot and cold food was cold. Everything was spiced well. There was an excellent variety. I was very pleased with the omelette's that I had made. The longest I had to wait was about 4 min.'s. We ate one breakfast in the formal dining room. We were disappointed with this breakfast. There was nothing on the breakfast menu that was not provided at the Windjammer and hundreds of items at the Windjammer and were not provided in the main dining room. One thing for both. I thought it was extremely cheap of Royal Caribbean to charge a $3.00 fee for orange juice. Lunch. All of our lunches were in the Windjammer and they were excellent. Super variety and very tasty. The only downside was it was crowded on sea days and seating could be difficult. Dinner. We used my time dining and we are very pleased. The food was very good to excellent. Of the 12 dinners I had I was only displeased once. Super service.
Disembarkation. Disembarkation was a disaster. We needed to use express disembarkation to meet a previously scheduled bus to the airport. We were informed that all we needed to do was go to deck 1 at 6:45 A.M. and walk off the ship. Unfortunately, there were hundreds of people with the same idea and there was no crowd control offered from Royal Caribbean. It became a shoving and pushing match to leave the ship. Add to this the extremely poor decision to close express disembarkation at seven o'clock for 20 min. We were told this was for our safety as bags were being transported near the gangway. We were lucky as we eventually were able to struggle off the boat and make our bus but I know there were many people who missed scheduled buses and taxis because they were upwards of 45 min. late for their scheduled time. This was all due to extremely poor or nonexistent planning by the Royal Caribbean staff and an abdication of their responsibility for safe disembarkation.