Sorry for the novel, but it was necessary.
We had high expectations going into this trip. We have travelled previously on Carnival Cruise Lines (out of Australia) and found them to be okay, not great, not bad either, lots of kids ... Read More
Sorry for the novel, but it was necessary.
We had high expectations going into this trip. We have travelled previously on Carnival Cruise Lines (out of Australia) and found them to be okay, not great, not bad either, lots of kids though, so a little busy. We were told by others that Royal Caribbean was better, that there were less kids and the quality was better. So, in our wisdom, we assumed that if we picked the biggest and the newest cruise ship that Royal Caribbean had, we should have the best trip of our life.
Sadly, not to be. I actually had to start writing a list while on board because the issues were just that many.
In no particular order, this is just some of the things that we experienced on our trip:
* The Fine Line - The main headline show was cancelled on the second night of the cruise and then we were told that it would not be performed again for the rest of the cruise (technical difficulties - which actually means they sacked the Director and couldn't get it to work).
* Rock Climbing Wall - I don't understand the point of having two climbing walls if you only ever have one open at a time, and then leave people waiting hours in the hot sun for their turn. And don't fall too soon or you are sent back to the end of the line (and I mean a foot from the ground). Quickest rock climb in history.
* Food availability - There are loads of placed to eat on the boat, some of them are even included in the price (not many though). What I didn't like, is that between the hours of 3pm and 5pm (approx), there were 2 places to eat. Seriously, there are 6,000 people on that boat, in what reality is that going to work? The lines were crazy and the food in those two locations wasn't good anyway.
* The buffet - It was just okay, and I am being generous there. Carnival did it so much better. My kids rarely found anything to eat other than fried food and burgers. Surely you can do better than that. PS, your dessert buffet could also be better.
* Silk Restaurant - I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I generally expect some variety in my evening meal. Not in that restaurant. Every night it was the same menu, except maybe one or two changes max. By the middle of the cruise I couldn't stomach eating there again (and we checked the menu every night). Really disappointing. Carnival didn't recycle their menu on the cruises I was on. Dinner in the restaurants was an exciting event (especially with the entertainment they had). Dinner in Silk was rushed and boring.
* Scheduled events - It's annoying when you plan your day around the printed schedule, and then find out that events that we clearly printed on the sheet, are not on. We turned up to a Martini making class to find a staff member who had no idea why we were there (us and the dozen other people who turned up). He had to call around for ten minutes to finally tell us that it was a printing error and could we come back in 5 hours!
* Cup Cake making class - Again, we planned our day around an activity that we had prebooked, to then get a message stuck under the door to say it's been bought forward to 9am. I'm not awake at 9am! I don't want to make cupcakes with my kids at 9am on my holiday.
* Water pressure - Maybe it was just our luck, but we had issues with water pressure. One minute it was fine, the next it was gone, and then fine again.
* Guest services - I don't understand why you give guests the option of ringing through to guest services when you have no intention of every, and I mean EVER answering the phone. I tried so many times on the 7 days, and never got through.
* Noise - Note to all other travellers, we booked two adjoining rooms overlooking central park on level 14, bad idea! We did not take into account the fact that every morning, and I mean EARLY, the lovely staff would set up the pool deck for the day. And my setting up I mean skull dragging all the deck chairs across the ground. The noise was unreal. Pick a lower deck for your stateroom!
* Inward facing cruise ship - Clearly we were wrong when we assumed that bigger was better. It is not, in fact it was way worse. I'm not sure why they designed it like that, but the Harmony of the Seas is an inward facing cruise ship, being that it all seems to be focused toward the middle of the ship. It doesn't open out to give you a view of the sea. And even on the top level, 15 and 16, if you want to view the water you can only do it through glass (unless you are right at the back of the ship). It's like being in a goldfish bowl. It was weird. And then, no doubt because of the size of the ship, you could barely feel it moving. It was honestly not like we were on a ship at all. We should have just stayed in a resort on land, it would have been the same.
* Technical Difficulties - Clearly they had "technical difficulties" with the Fine Line performance, but they seemed to have technical difficulties with a lot of their performances. Perhaps they should look at that.
* Quality control - Being on holidays is fun, relaxing and enjoyable, but not so much when you find something 'alien' at the bottom of your Pina Colada. When I made known to staff that this 'alien' item was found in the bottom of my drink they really couldn't have cared less. Even when I mentioned that the drink in question was from a mobile cart on the pool deck, and that the guy scooped it strait from a cooler into my cup (therefore there would be an assumption that the item in question would have originated from the cooler), and that they should perhaps stop serving other people from the cooler; they told me to wait in line for 20 minutes at guest services and tell them about it. The cooler way empty by then! Oh well.
* Hallways outside the staterooms - There was not a moment on that cruise where there was not empty food trays or empty drink containers littering the hallways. Even at one point we had the misfortune of walking down the hall to our room to find that another guest had dumped a dirty nappy (and believe me, it was a #2), outside their door! Who does that! The smell lingered.
* Inconsistent drinks - You would assume that if you ordered a drink in one bar, and then went to another that you would get the same drink, and certainly the same alcohol content. Alas, it was not the case. Tip for other travellers, find the bar that serves the most alcohol in your drink - believe me, there is a difference.
* Billing - Then, the best part, I opted to pay for my account at the end of the cruise (for numerous reasons, but mainly because I was travelling with a "Travel Card", which did not have my name printed on it therefore Royal Caribbean would not allow me to attach the card to my account. So, when I went to pay for my account on the last day, with said card - which is a debit card - not credit card, I paid the amount in full. Then surprise surprise, we found out a few days later that Royal Caribbean had put a hold on my Travel Card for the full amount of the bill that I had paid the day before we left. So, I paid twice. I had to call them three times (to get three different answers) before I finally had to call my own bank (in another country) to get them to release the funds back. I ended up having to get Royal Caribbean to email me the release document to then email to my bank, all because of their error. Which the guy admitted on the phone. They should never have placed a hold on an account that had already been paid in full - after the cruise ended!
Honestly, I could go on, but lets not.
In summary, bigger is not better. You can't build relationships with staff members and feel truly welcomed and valued when you are travelling with 6,500 other people. It's too big and doesn't feel like a cruise ship. But then if your intention is just to be able to say you went on the biggest cruise ship in the world, then go for it. Then book a smaller ship next time and really enjoy yourself. Read Less