My wife and I were celebrating our 25 years of marriage with the third of three RCCL cruises within the last nine months. We had spotted this itinerary of 12 nights in the British Isles and Ireland, and thought how nice it would be to ... Read More
My wife and I were celebrating our 25 years of marriage with the third of three RCCL cruises within the last nine months. We had spotted this itinerary of 12 nights in the British Isles and Ireland, and thought how nice it would be to visit Scotland, in particular. We had not cruised on Brilliance before, but had done trips on sister ships, Jewel and Serenade.
Boarding/check-in in Amsterdam was probably one of the easiest we have ever done in 40 cruises. The problem was the gauntlet of sales crew between the dock and the ship, pushing everything from drink packages, restaurant specials, facials, massages etc. I t was like getting off of the ship in Barbados. That was not impressive.
The stateroom was ready as advertised at 1:00 p.m. As soon as we walked in, the smell of the sewer system in the toilet/washroom was ridiculous. The cabin attendant came, washed and sprayed again, but had to call a plumber. Eventually the smell subsided until later in the cruise and it came back again. Again, the stateroom attendant had to take the same actions as on day one. Also we were told that our cabin was noticeably warmer in the middle of the night when we said how uncomfortable it was, because the line has instituted a rotating policy which raises the temperature to save energy. On one occasion we had to leave the door open to get some sleep. We were not amused or impressed.
When we asked the attendant if he had forgotten to leave the shampoo, conditioner and lotion, as is always done, he replied that company policy at RCCL was that unless we had 340 loyalty points with Crown and Anchor, (even though were are Diamond Plus status) there would be no no shampoo, conditioner or lotion given. That may be written somewhere, but we had never heard of it. Makes RCCL look pretty cheap and classless.
When we asked about a bathrobe that we have always had, we were told that since we asked, we could have one each. But if you do not ask, it will not be provided. So far, Day 1 not so impressive.
We had been given onboard spending credit, and wanted to check the account on the TV. "Sorry that technology does not exist on this ship, but you can go and stand in line at Guest Services to have a copy printed out". Now the the line has decided that Guest Services is the best place to add the noisiest place on the ship; the Centrum. Morning Zumba classes, Evening rock bands and lord knows what else during the rest of the day. You literally have to yell to heard at Guest Services. Not bright. Do not choose your your cabin too close to the aft elevators if you retire early. Showtime ends at 11:30 p.m.To add insult to injury, after spending 25 minutes in the line, on two occasions, I was given another passengers account information, and had to go back again. Again, not impressed.
The offers to sell us "special things" continued every day. We were informed that part of RCCL staff training and contract renewal states that the line is less interested in servers, and more interested in sales people. That is certainly obvious.
With regard to food, the Windjammer buffet started out very well early in the cruise, but was less impressive in its choices as the cruise went on. But, in fairness, it was superior to the dining room. On its best night, the Dining room food quality was average. Up until now, if you did not like any of the daily offerings on the menu, there was always the fallback standards of steak, chicken and/or salmon. Well, not anymore. Forget about the salmon. The Assistant Head Waiter made it clear that we were not getting salmon. Unfortunately, his delivery needs work. When one person at the table said they would like salmon, in a frustrated tone our fearless head waiter huffed and said "why don't I just bring everyone salmon." Not everyone is cut out for sales, I guess.
Because of the mediocre offerings in the dining room, we went to Chops and Giovannis three times, without the promotion. Which reminds me that someone should keep an eye on the differences between what the RCCL website says and what is practiced on the ship. The website offers what amounted to a three for the price of two restaurant deal, on the condition that your first night had to be taken on the first or second night of the cruise. When we talked to staff, we were told that that was not actually true, and we could have gone whenever convenient. Not impressed.
When we filled in our mid-cruise "How is everything Survey" we shared some thoughts. We then received, on the second to last day, a letter offering a future cruise saving certificate. Don't get me wrong. They did not have to do this, and I know it. However, this is where we have another example of the difference between pretender to excellence and a real contender. The certificate was for a new cruise within the next 12 months. A quick check of our C&A file would reveal that we already have our next two sailings booked in May and September 2020. Considering that I am still working and have restraints on my vacation times, the offer is more frustrating than pleasing. The same applies to a Casino letter we received with the same conditions. The old saying that its the thought that counts does not apply here.
As a final farewell, for the first time, we decided to purchase the airport transfer tickets, only to find that they had not put my luggage on the truck, and thus made me chase someone down at the airport, since the ship had no one there to help. Luckily the supervisor from Inter-Cruises was excellent and went above and beyond to help.
Having said all of this, I must distinguish between the Corporate policies in Miami of RCCL which are tarnishing the image of the line, and the dedication of many of the on-board staff, who work hard and do what they can to help and make the thought of returning more palatable. The dining room waiters, the stateroom attendants, the Concierges in the Diamond and Diamond Plus Lounges made the difference. And less the HQ staff tries to take credit, forget it. Their policies have staff reminding at all chances to remember the number ten, as if it is the be all and end all.
Miami needs to focus on defining how much is enough. This incessant nickel and diming of passengers is a reflection of what I see as a major malaise of our times. It is ruining the industry. Read Less