Embarkation and disembarkation went smoothly. We encountered at least 3 rude staff members in the photography department. We realize they are third party workers, but they are on the ship and representing Royal Caribbean just the same. One was rude while taking photos, one was rude when asked about editing a photo to remove an imagine that was in the background. And the third was rude when asked about a 'folder' to store pictures in while we tried to decide on puchasing them (a service offered on Celebrity by the way). We did put this in our comments section for the survey. We also noticed ... that in comparison to Celebrity, there were quite a few little areas where things were lacking with Royal. The staff in general is not as friendly. In the bars and public areas there was more than one instance of what I would classify as a 'bad attitude' ... either because I had a beverage package or because they were not 'into' what they were doing. They are also responsible for more areas. For example the assistant waiter had to get me my soft drink at dinner and handle my wife's wine ... in addition to her normal duties. This caused service to suffer. This was also noted on our comment card. Other things at dinner were the lack of a bread basket, which required the assistant waiter to deliver bread to each person at each table from a large tray. Again time wasted. We did not find the food variety at dinner as varied either. There were several items that appeared more than once on the menu ... and this was only a 7 night cruise. One other small thing was the lack of a small fork to use with the escargot or an acutal soup spoon to use with soup. Maybe these are being too picky, but it is a small detail. Especially when combined thw the lack of a dedicated beverage server and the lack of a wine steward. We also noticed a real lack of enforcement in the sanitation policy. MANY people just walked by the hand sanitizers and nothing was said. On past Celebrity cruises we have been met at the doors of various public areas (especially dining areas) with the hand sanitizer. We also noted this on our comment card. The other thing was dirty dishes being left lying around. We actually noticed dirty trays sitting in the halls for HOURS. This is not sanitary either. This was also an issue in other areas of the ship, but probably not to this extreme. Overall it just seemed that service was lacking, and that more demands were being placed on fewer staff.
We were alos VERY DISAPPOINTED to have a non-smoking cabin and find an ashtray on our balcony. My wife is former smoker and we did not book a cruise with NCL because of issues with smoking. Then we were again VERY DISAPPOINTED to find the casino reaking of smoke ... and to make it worse there was a 'domed' advertising ball on top of one of the slot machines with a no smoking display on it ... and someone was sitting at the machine smoking a cigarette.
Our cabin attendant was wonderful, He took great care of our needs. Though we were disappointed that there were no nightly chocolates. The staff in the Windjammer were also better than most of the other public areas we were in. The cruise director was good and the staff that we met were good as well. The shows were wonderful, and the ship .... though maybe in need of some touch up, was good. The lines were never bad, and things went smoother that I thought they would given the size. There were a good number of activities, but not as many as we had thought there would be ... or at times that we thought they would be at. There were a number of things we would have attended if they had not conflicted with either being ashore, in dinner, or at another activity.
All in all it was a nice vacation, and we enjoyed it. Royal Caribbean should consider hiring more staff and paying more attention to detail and service. We will probably sail with Royal again ... especially if we take the children; but more than likely we will look elsewhere for our next cruise vacation by ourselves.
IF Royal Caribbean is trying to differinciate themselves from Celebrity, it is not being done in the right areas.