The 4-bedroom Suite on Harmony of the Seas comes at the cost of an average new car. We are not wealthy, but while on-board the Oasis 2 years ago I decided to take advantage of on-board booking promotions, and “blow” part of our kid’s ... Read More
The 4-bedroom Suite on Harmony of the Seas comes at the cost of an average new car. We are not wealthy, but while on-board the Oasis 2 years ago I decided to take advantage of on-board booking promotions, and “blow” part of our kid’s inheritance by having a family reunion on-board the Harmony. You see, my wife Kim had told me “when I pass, I want you to take all of the kids on a big cruise, and remember the fun memories they had with me, and smile”. I pretty much told her “B.S. – tell them yourself”, and ran down to book the 4 bedroom. In total there were 9 of us, including our 8-year-old grandson. 4 of the 9 had never cruised before!
We received an e-mail from the RCL Royal Genie Dept about 5 weeks prior to the cruise date. That e-mail contained a survey for everyone to fill out. Questions like “if you could invite 3 people living or not to dinner who would they be?” were obviously designed to help the Royal Genie find out the “make-up” of the cabin. When we booked this trip 2 years prior, we were told some things about the Royal Genie and the “perks” that just were not accurate. So, what DO you get? You’ll NOT have to book any reservations on-board, and you’ll get the best seats in the house…for everything. This includes things like specialty restaurants (no extra charge), shows, tours, priority flow-rider cueing, and disembarkation/boarding. Your Royal Genie will take care of all of those things once you get on-board!
Andrei was our Royal Genie, and he introduced himself by e-mail about three weeks prior to boarding. He wanted to know about any special occasions, etc. BY FAR, ANDREI WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLE SERVICE EXPERIENCE WE HAVE RECEIVED IN OUR 18 PAST CRUISES, OR IN FACT ON-SHORE AS WELL. I can’t say enough superlatives about his ability to predict our needs (really desires) PRIOR to us even asking about them. The pride in his work runs deep, and you just know you’ve met an exceptional human being. Andrei insisted on handling every finite detail, from lost keys to planning our dinners. We told our kids “the good news is that you just got spoiled beyond belief, the bad news is that any future cruises are just going to suck!”
When we arrived at the Pier at 10:30 am, we were immediately escorted to the Genie Lounge in the Terminal, which was decked out with all kinds of delightful finger foods and beverages. I bet were there 5 minutes before Andrei came in to “swoop us up”, and bring us on-board. As he walked us past Guest Relations, he stopped and said “this will be the LAST time you see this desk…for you WILL be contacting me for EVERYTHING you need…RIGHT?! I laughed, and knew this was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He walked us around Coastal Kitchen, and after a few minutes invited us to enter our Suite. A chest full of beer, and a case of water alongside the well-stocked refrigerator told me that Andrei had read all of our surveys about “what would you like to see in your cabin”. We had brought Christmas lights, and a tree to decorate…so my son and I got busy while the others were exploring the ship. I had to chuckle. The balcony of the 4 bedroom protrudes out towards the sea in its’ mid-ship location, and when we went on the Bridge Tour (yes included) one of the Officers remarked he was “seeing them on watch all night”. Not sure if that was a complement, but I really didn’t care. We exchanged gifts one evening, had stockings hung on metal hooks which we had brought with us…and on more than one occasion we heard comments from the crew about how much our decorations made them feel close to home…awesome.
We would see Andrei about 4 times a day. He predicted our breakfast patterns, and would greet us tableside (every meal) . He would coordinate the days activities with me, and then based on that he would greet us prior to everything else we did (as an event) for that day. Several memories stand out for me. Both ice shows were awesome, but the “non-production” show was the best. My grandson seated beside me had ice sprayed in his lap from one of the skaters' blades, and was wide-eyed with every blade slice he heard. Second…one day I’m sitting in the Suite just laid out on the couch, and the doorbell rings. Here comes Andrei with two waiters…and about 12 tropical drinks. Not just any drinks, Andrei had obviously seen what we had ordered at the bars (no charge), and duplicated them for this experience. WOW. Third, on our last night we had the Italian restaurant cater a dinner (no charge) on our balcony to celebrate our daughter-in-law’s birthday. After dinner, we went around the table and each guest told my wonderful wife what a positive impact she had made in their life. For this guy, it was “Mission Accomplished”, the perfect end to a perfect cruise.
I'll leave detailed restaurant reviews for other folks, but I'll say our favorites were the Chef's Table, followed by Wonderland. Chops was not good for a boarding afternoon lunch, but great for a dinner a few nights later. Coastal Kitchen was a yawn, but part of that was our fault. Andrei had us seated at a huge round table with these IMPOSING high back chairs. Every time the awesome waiter came by we got startled! So, when we asked to be re-seated we obviously were in someone else's "territory", and the level of service plummeted. Jamie's Italian delivered an incredibly hot, and fresh meal to our outdoor table on our deck for the last night. We're still marveling at the coordination that must have taken to do so. Overall, Kim and I miss the level of service from the Waiters, and the absence of Asst Waiters...at all restaurants. Everyone is just too rushed, and too busy to linger, chat...and in general make a great impression. Sad. RCL, better be careful...your "cost savings to enhance profits" approach is being viewed with a scornful eye by thousands of us...your (currently) loyal cruisers!
I saved the bad stuff for last. Without getting into too much minutia, we were promised some “things” when we did our on-board Oasis booking that just were just not true. “Changes” had been made in service promises. One of those was our original document said that all gratuities would be included, INCLUDING the Royal Genie. Later brochures have a nice little asterisk at the bottom inviting guests to “include an extra tip for their Genie”. Our entire family has been in the Hospitality industry for years, and tips are a big deal. This new wording also meant hundreds of extra dollars out of our pocket from what was promised. There was more of this kind of “nickel and diming”. As the cruise got nearer, we advanced those concerns to RCL Management, and had a telephone call with a “Damion” in the “RCL Executive Office”. His demeanor was dry, uncaring, and blunt. Think of the friendliness of an IRS Auditor. He was the self-proclaimed “highest source” we could issue our (documented and in-writing) gripes we had…and his answer was basically we have your money, so don’t bug me. That I recovered in time to even have a good time on the cruise is all about Andrei. After the cruise, I filled out a scathing survey and told RCL that after being Diamond something…and 13 cruises with RCL…we would cruise with them no more. And, I told them why, and how the corporate office had treated us. To our surprise, we got a call from Nedroy (also RCL Corporate) who promised us a full investigation…and a call back. I'm happy to report that Nedroy did fulfill his promises to us. One key in our defense was that we had every promise made to us DOCUMENTED, and had saved every bit of it. RCL did the right thing, and handed us a generous future cruise discount. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Nedroy, who just would not "drop the ball".
What did we learn from our frustrating experience? First...save every document to verify every promise, and Second we will always in the future try to tip "the old fashioned way", where WE determine who gets what. I'm not certain that will work out for us, but we're going to try!
Bottom line. The Royal Genie experience is one that (if you can afford it) advances your cruise experience to the next level. If you're wealthy, you'll get what you paid for. If you're just rich in the love of experience over things, I can't think of a better way to blow some big dough! Read Less