Wow what can I say!!! Our 1st time as cruisers, and disabled ones at that. We had assistance to board this magnificent vessel. Our first thoughts were how big it was. We were shepherded to the Windjammer aka Windy City where we first experienced how helpful the staff are. From then on we never had to fetch or carry any food and we were even spoilt by their cutting up our food without being prompted. Our disabled Deck 8 cabin was great once we had negotiated the maze of bags racked up in the corridors (RCL please note in my opinion this is a safety hazard for wheelchair users). The cabin was far bigger than imagined and we had no trouble parking up two wheelchairs without needed to park in the shower. We removed the un-necessary glass table and turned the bed round to allow for easier access to the bed for my wife's chair. That done we then unpacked (would have been nice to have had help!) before completely dashing around the ship looking in all the nooks an cranies.
Onto My Time Dining where we were first sat near the entrance to King Lear on a table for two despite asking for shared. Needless to say the next night we got our wish and met some lovely people culminating in the last formal night of three having a table of 4 couples who all enjoyed each others company. The waiters were outstanding and Danilo and Allan soon had us well provided for. The food was excellent and most nights were different with a steak as backup if needed. We tried Jonny Rockets one lunchtime (such a laugh) as well as the buffet breakfast and lunch in the more formal and helpful deck 3 room. From a wheelchair users view this was the better deal as you could see the chioces of food whereas the Windy City was higher and the labels difficult for a short person to see easily.
The entertainment was good most of the time but varied from a top comedian through to an x factor reject but everyone has their choice. The production shows were very presentable but relied on the IOTS Singers and Dancers who were good but in too much abundance. More variety maybe as I heard at one point the same people had been on board for some time. I must mention Rock The Boat who entertained us most nights after dinner or a show. A true Rock and Roll band very talented, and enjoyed by their audience.
Now the bugbear. Shore excursions are geared up for the tours. The way I felt it went was that disabled people are 'expected' to do the easy tours sat on a bus/coach for hours. There were 'On Your Own' trips but not enough of them and certainly not wheelchair accessible. We did have a discussion with the Excursions Manager and Miami will be hearing from us. At Lisbon, we booked the 'shuttle' but the local bus pulled up alongside the ship for a fraction of the price. In Rome we tried DIY on the train but this was off our own back and we just about got back on time after being told in St Peters that the earlier train we would not be acceessible which meant the next one cuts in very fine, but he ho the shuttle was still there after we ran back from the station.
I do think RCL need to re-think their policies on excursions maybe actually using users who live in their chairs to canvass thoughts and requirements. That said we got off at every port and did things ourselves but we did hear of guests not getting off anywhere as they were led to believe ports were not accessible, far from it.
Finally, a few thanks. Guest relations are wonderful even sticking tape to hold on wheelchair lights that have broke. Big thanks to Raj and Vittoria who knew our names every time. Raj even ran after us at Soton to say goodbye. They are a great face of RCL and nothing was too much for them.
The spa and barbers are great even if a little bit expensive but we both felt great having been pampared.
We must mention Captain Teo and 1st Officer Dave who were very hospitable to us making our 1st cruise so memorable. The Captain using his sense of humour had everyone hand washing and no viruses or sickness were heard of.
Our Stateroom attendant, Christian, was the most helpful person you could ever meet. He was curtious, very efficient and guided us through life on board. His towel animals were brilliant.
Getting off was a bit drawn out but we didn't want to leave but eventually we had to end our grand adventure.
Watch out Indy we will be coming back!!!!!