We are 63 & 59 years young and booked our first ever cruise with RCI. As i have already told you we were EXTREMELY disappointed with your product.
To summarise, the highlights of our 7 days with RCI were the days that we left the ship to visit something REAL away from the ship. Even this was spoilt to an extent by RCI as noted below.
For your information we would offer the following comments on the various elements of our "experience".
1. Arrival, boarding and check in. This was well organised and everything it should have been, well done.
2. Our Cabin. Your records will show that we were in 2610 which is a modest cabin. Whilst we would have preferred a little more space, this is a matter for us to take up with our tour agent Club La Costa, who gave us a clear impression that the cabin would be larger than it was. Our comments about the cabin accommodation are that the lack of SUCH BASIC amenities as tea/coffee making in room, (we found room service to be a waste of time and an inconvenience), ironing facilities (without excessive extra costs), and shampoo's and other toiletries not provided. This left us with the distinct feeling that we were on holiday with cheap scape (and money grabbing outfit). We also note that the daily gift of chocolates to be left in our cabin, as mentioned in the small ship guide given to us on boarding, never appeared.
3. Cabin Staff. Our cabin steward was brilliant and RCI are very lucky that you get such good output from people that you treat like slaves.
4. Sports Bar. This is a joke. On our first day i went to the sports bar to watch the practice for the International Formula One grand prix. Your bar staff did not know what this was and advised that the only "Sports" available was from ESPN, which is an American channel, and we all know how poorly informed the US are in WORLD affairs, so this was a dead end conversation. I went to customer services to try and resolve but was met with the admission that RCI "could not afford to pay" for the European licence to receive European channels. So why are RCI running cruises in Europe?????
Our disappointment on this subject was recovered (not by RCI) since on the Sunday race day we disembarked to Valencia and found a bar that was showing the F1 race on a wonderful 60" TV screen.
5. The next negative with RCI was the EXCESSIVE price of alcoholic and soft drinks. My preferred drink of beer cost me $7.32 (Â£4.72) per 20oz (1 uk pint). Even at top uk bars we only pay Â£3.60 ($5.58) so we regard your prices as a rip off because we have no choice. Not a good way to engage with your clients. On a closer look at the receipts, we also noticed a service charge of 15% is added to the cost of drinks, but more of that later.
5. EASILY THE MOST SERIOUS COMPLAINT ARRISES FROM THE (ILLEGAL IN UK) POLICY REGARDING SMOKING. THIS WAS A TOTAL DISTRACTION FOR US AS NON SMOKERS. WE DISCOVERED THAT YOUR NORMAL POLICY HAD FOR SOME REASON BEEN CHANGED BECAUSE OF THE LARGE NUMBER OF SPANISH TRAVELLERS. THIS WE FOUND TO BE AN INSULT TO US, AND WAS A CONSTANT ANNOYANCE, BE IT IN THE BARS, AT THE POOL ETC.
The so called english pub was so for from its title that it MUST contravene the trades description laws in uk as well as anywhere else in the world as it is proliferated with smokers, desperate to smoke anywhere they can because it is not allowed in the promenade street.
6. Breakfast in the restaurant. Whilst the range of fare was extensive, we found that the temperature quality left a lot to be desired. Cooked food was never at the temperature it should be. On the Wednesday of our cruise the cooked breakfast was so cool that we complained to the table attendant. Rightly he reported the matter to the "head waiter/supervisor" and that lady attended our table and appologised, saying, to our disbelief, that she was not surprised at our complaint because the dining room was not equipped for hot breakfasts, and that this was only provided "AS A FAVOUR TO US" What on earth should we read into this unbeliveable statement.
7. Evening dining. Whilst we must again congratulate you on achieving the most exceptional output from your waiter and assistant waiter despite the way you treat them, (the head waiter never introduced himself to us so at the end of our stay we diverted the tip that you designate for the head waiter, to the waiter & assistant. Please confirm that our wishes were complied with). We cannot agree that the dining was a good experience. The main ingredient for such is of course the food. We were advised that the menu was changed daily. Not entirely true. Yes there were small changes but the mainstay dishes did not. Every day there was Grilled Chicken Breast and Broiled Salmon. Also we would say that the dishes were very ordinary and similar to our normal everyday meals. So what was the experiance supposed to be??
8. Afternoon tea? Nothing was offered that REMOTELY came close to any definition of "afternoon tea". In the windjammer it was wall to wall burger and chips??
9. Entertainment. High point, the ice skating show which was exceptionally good. Otherwise there was nothing to write home about. There was nothing in the way of appealing and intelligent entertainment that we expected, i.e. cooking classes, dancing classes, wine tasting and the like.
10. Poolside entertainment. Whoever thought that the debacle of "mens bellyflop" and what ever you call the disgusting exhibition of men flaunting themselves at women "judges", was anything close to familly entertainment, should be dismissed immediately.
11. Tipping. We were offered, without explanation by our agent, the package that "includes pre paid tipping". We now know that this is NOT TRUE. As said above we were charged 15% service (tip) on all drinks. We herewith require repayment of the total we paid in tips above the "included" payment, this totals $33.33 (Â£21.50). This sum is taken from receipts that we can provide if required.
12. Excursions. Your ship docks at container ports that are generally the most unattractive places. You then have the CHEEK to charge for transfers into local towns. This is a cost that should be accepted by RCI. We therefore require the refund of $16 (Â£10.32) that was charged in addition to that which follows.
We did, in all naievity book the train ride from Cititavecchia to Rome at a cost of $89 each. We later discovered that the same journey by the public train system cost 9 euros ($12) which something that would have been known by you but was not shared with your clients (again presumably because you regard us as a captive audience). We therefore require the refund of the difference in cost of $154 (Â£99.35).
12. Ship to shore telephone calls. We were obliged to contact our travel agent whilst at Ajaccio. We made the call through the ships telephone operator. When this was done we were not informed of the call cost, ($7.95 per minute). When the sums of $15.90 & $190.80 appeared on our account we challenged these at the customer service desk because of the outrageous level of cost but were rebuffed with the answer that this was YOUR charge and that was that. I defy you to justify this as reasonable and require a refund of at lease 80% or $165 (Â£106.68)
You can see our feelings are that RCI seem to be trying to resolve the US budget deficit all on their own, at the expense of their clients. We will not be treated this way. We will be forwarding a copy of this to our travel agents, Club La Costa, and will soon be posting this on any travel websites that we can find, eg Trip Advisor etc