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1 Falmouth to Asia Cruise Reviews

Having sailed with other cruise lines I have a significant amount of underpinning knowledge to give towards this review ... First things first - this is a very american style ship attempting to embed itself into the AU cruising market, ... Read More
Having sailed with other cruise lines I have a significant amount of underpinning knowledge to give towards this review ... First things first - this is a very american style ship attempting to embed itself into the AU cruising market, as has other cruise lines before it, however, it has not done anywhere near the market research of other lines or simply does not include it into their duty of care or goodwill factor of customer service. 'They are here to make money and not friends', was the overall impression of a significant number of the passengers of the cruise we recently undertook. It is a very large ship and booked to capacity, they can afford to lose first time cruisers or those who have never sailed with them before, who are not satisfied with the overall RCL experience once tried, as long as aussies want to keep trying this cruise line and RCL can keep them curious. You cannot rely on having the majority of your passengers recreate on some new toy attractions (flowrider, rockclimbwall, skate rink) to provide evidence of overall high standard of accommodation (cleanliness, laundry of bedding, maximum utilisation of passenger cabin facilities), hospitality (food and beverage, dining facilities, bathroom facilities) and duty of care (safety standards, quality of product, customer service education and information, allowance for age range of passengers) - customers are simply not that stupid. Having sailed on a number of different cruise lines, we can safely say we have never felt so controlled and manipulated, as to how we recreate in our valuable spare time paid for with our hard earned money, as we experienced on this cruise. We were very alarmed by a number of security issues on board, that could have been so easily and significantly managed so much better. Travellers need to be aware that the AU Gov expects them to behave as the legal guardians of their passports and you can be fined, penalised and incur replacement costs for irresponsible care, misuse or theft of your passport. Indeed, the DFAT (Dept Foreign Affairs & Trade) website which is responsible for AU traveller education and warnings, clearly states that you do not hand over your passport unless you are under arrest/detention for some reason. Yet the first thing, this US Cruise Co. does is make you surrender your passport on embarkation, under the proviso that it is needed for visa arrangements for port visits/tours. If you do not hand it over, you do not board the ship and lose your money and time that YOU have paid for. Importantly, no where in the customer education that we were issued prior to check in and board, was this published or disclosed to us. However, we were required to advise RCL of all the details contained within our passport, weeks prior to departure as part of our booking process - so this begs the question - do they really need to confiscate a National Identity document, that you are the legal guardian of, when they already have those details? On any other ship we have been on, we have been respected to manage our own passport entry and evidence stamp at any port visit that required it - so what is the importance for RCL to be in custody of a document that does not belong to them - does the airline confiscate your passport for the duration of the flight? Indeed if RCL is so concerned with security issues, why can anyone who enters a passengers' cabin, simply turn on the cabin TV and access your private financial information in the form of your online cruise account and restaurant reservations for dining options that demand a surcharge (these details are not password protected or require a PIN to open. The return of passports required thousands of passengers to line up at a single point of storage, at a venue that had been double booked, resulting in waiting times of up to 4 hours for some passengers in very long lines with no proviso of duty of care for frail, injured, non ambulant, unwell or elderly customers - the words "shambles, complete debarcle, criminal neglect' were frequently used. Acommodation - Our cabin upon embarkation, had rubbish, bottle tops, coins and other assorted items all over the floor. The sheets has significant staining post laundering, which was alarming in size and colour. The small fridge in cabin, is so small and under performed it did not keep drinks cold, let alone make ice or be foodsafe to keep fresh food in. This forces people to eat and drink outside of the cabins except for room service options, which are extremely limited. For 6 out of the 13 days of the trip, our balcony was completely covered in black soot rain. It started at night which we did not detect and resulted in permanent staining of expensive formal attire, which we had to try and clean as soon as possible the next morning in our cabin bathroom as importantly for families in particular, this ship has no passenger laundry options of any kind other than the ships laundry service which is not cheap to use. A number of days into the trip the badly worn and stained hallway carpets were very damp and smelly and attempts by the ship did not remove the source of the damp or the pungent odour. Hospitality - Never have we heard so much negative feedback in regard to wait times, quality of food and selection of beverages, as we did on this ship. The formal dining room in particular was understaffed, food quality tasted of the cook/chill/ reheat method and was an american menu that had very little reflection on the variety and quality of fresh produce that australians prefer to order and consume. Very little in way of australian range of beers, wines or champagnes - mostly american and expensive. The specialty restaurants which demand a surcharge of between $25 to up to $70 per head, just for food items were very hit and miss and waiter service ranged from arrogant and misleading to complacent and downright dishonest WITH the exception of one venue - Giovanni's table. This small tasteful italian eatery felt like it had landed on the ship from another planet. The decor, staff, food and service was exceptional and RCL should take a good hard look at this team and how they go about business. Food in buffet is very american and often hard to find a seat. Outdoor bar areas close very early for travels into hot, humid tropical waters which does not allow for one of the main things aussie travellers love most - relaxing under the stars on the top decks in the middle of the night, after a session at the show, nightclub or casino, and having a coldie, debriefing on the days activities, friendly arguments about the worlds problems, big laughs about who cheated at mini golf, knowing they do not have to rush, because the bar closes 1030 - 1100 pm, forcing everyone inside to purchase a drink, which could not be purchased more than one at a time or less than 10 minutes apart. Drinks packages were described as 'Sneaky, Greedy' in that many people bought them thinking the price they paid covered the duration of the cruise and was not a daily charge, due to lack of sufficient/correct/current printed education and very poor explanations provided by too few and too language challenged staff, allocated to spruik these packages. Items advertised on the packages were either not available or not honoured by RCL and this was particularly offensive, as it was not due to abuse by the owner of the product/package which can cost up to $80 AU a day and still only includes few wines, beers and cocktails. Some very obvious cocktails were priced 70 cents more than the package allowance, yet purchasers were not allowed to pay the extra 70 cents for these cocktails - you have to wonder what the thinking is there? On some of the busiest decks and entertainment venues, bathrooms contained single male and female toilet cubicles for areas designed to cater to hundreds of people, resulting in frustration and distress for frail or elderly. Many public areas were lit by heat generating bulbs which compounded environmental factors aboard the ship. What many people did not realise was this voyage did not stop at the beautiful asian waterways or harbours of the destination countries, but instead anchored at large major industrial ports (very noisy/smoggy if you chose to stay on board) and no tender boat service were used. Excursions were started with an often very delayed bus trip for hours to get to where tours started only to be rushed through tours in an hour or two, in what should have been a comfortable afternoon, only to be rushed back to a bus and get back to a ship late to have missed their allocated dining time or chance to see a show. Ironically, the day after disembarkation, the ship travelled back to the beautiful area of Na Trang in Vietnam and employed the tender service, rather than herd all the passengers onto late crowded buses from an industrial port hours away - what message does this send to aussie passengers about RCL's care factor to them as a client base? "We've got your money, now shutup and get on the bus".? Customer Duty of Care - This was wildly inconsistent throughout the ship. Badly maintained safety strips on steps were located around the corner from smooth marble steps and unlevel paving that wet feet added further traction issues to. Circular stairs were far to narrow for adult feet to tread confidently. Pool deck events were boycotted and seriously endangered by the fact that the live band/dancing area was allocated to one that was constantly slopped over by the pool right next to it - a safety risk to electrical gear for performers and those few who did attempt to dance, many slipped and fell and were only supported and attended to by their fellow passengers - no management presence was evident to provide supervision of these events. Pools were far too small for size of ship and number of passengers - many people developed illnessess after 3 or 4 days in pools/spas. No drinks in glasses were allowed at pool deck tables yet people hijinked around in the spas with glass stubbies in hand? Pool deck staff were run off their feet and suffered genuinely due to lack of numbers and management support - interestingly RCL used recent refurbishment to increase the number of cabins/passengers by hundreds - where was the matching staff ratio?. The bones of the ship felt very cramped compared to other ships for us who have no mobility issues, so must have presented a challenge to those who did. We spoke to a 74/75 yr old couple who boarded late at the port due to a delayed flight and were advised all the porters had embarked and they would need to carry their own luggage up the gangway onto the ship and they had booked one of the largest suites on the ship. Customer Service education or information was often non existent or misleading or simply not honored. Daily program activity information was constantly repeated on the hardcopy newsletter each day, wasting massive dollars and paper - ironic for a line that promotes themselves as eco friendly (Save the Waves campaign). I repeat, Aussies are easy going and very patient, but they are far from stupid. Entertainment which was organised on sector/deck basis did not allow for allocated dining times - no one thought to cross reference many organisational aspects - resulting in lots of double ups and very poor communication from area managers in terms of entertainment and hospitality, which unfortunately flowed onto passenger inconvenience. Sometimes you are lucky and can travel in a bubble on board a cruise ship immune to the negatives and customer dissatisfaction - but I doubt there will be many on the trip we took who will have achieved this, based on the hundreds of passengers who could not wait to get off Voyager of the Seas. This begs the question - what did RCL do really well on this ship? They got you on the ship quickly and they got you off the ship quickly - and wonderfully fore those who got to experience it, they left Giovanni's to get on with the job of great customer service, even when the ship's stores had run out of menu items, they provided a guenuine apology and lovely alternatives - they are the epiteme of a flagship restaurant on board a cruise ship and really made the cruise for many diners onboard. Hopefully they will jump ship to another line and many more passengers can be treated like australian clientele - understanding, forgiving, easy going but far, far from stupid. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015

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