This was our second family cruise, though the first was a 3 day Carnival cruise to the Caribbean 10 years ago complements of my father-in-law which I understand is not in the same league as what we did. We booked one junior ocean balcony ... Read More
This was our second family cruise, though the first was a 3 day Carnival cruise to the Caribbean 10 years ago complements of my father-in-law which I understand is not in the same league as what we did. We booked one junior ocean balcony suite and one room with a balcony overlooking the carousel. I had heard a lot about crowds and poor food beforehand and I was prepared for this kind of experience (we chose the cruise mainly because of the timing and itinerary) but honestly for what it was I thought they did a good job. The 'pay for dining' food was quite good (we ate at Chops, Jamie's and Izumi) and we thought the Windjammer (included buffet) was honestly quite decent as well. I would not say the same about the main included dining room (for both breakfast and dinner) but once we knew our way around that was fine. Yes, the crowd was unreal (6800 capacity, 6200 booked), but I thought they managed it very, very well and we never had problems finding seats to eat, chairs to sit in (although they weren't prime poolside, but we never expected it), etc. We found the staff quite friendly and our room attendant Paulo was first rate. If my review were to end here I'd easily put up four out of five. I didn't care for the entertainment, but that may be me more than it. Here is what I didn't like:
a. The lines at Guest Services were always really long, and paradoxically the kiosks were never fully staffed. People get in line for Guest Services mainly for one reason: Arrangements. Arrangements gone wrong, Arrangements to make, Arrangements to change, etc. Any inconvenience in dealing with these kinds of things is a direct detractor from the vacation. I felt like this process was really inefficient, and it created stress, which is the last thing I wanted to experience given the purpose. Calling Guest Services was no better as they would usually not pick up (which is why we would have to go in person and queue up).
b. Selling, Selling, Selling. Granted I am not a normal cruiser, and granted I might have chosen a different boat had I taken some time to think about what I wanted out of it, but we couldn't be in the main shopping area for 10 minutes without being hustled for $19.99 watches with fake Swiss names, free faux sapphires in the jeweler, etc.; like I started to avoid the whole area at varying times just to avoid being pitched.
c. Two of out of our three dining experiences resulted in the restaurant not knowing/recognizing that we had a dining package and attempting to get us to sign full bills before we explained it to them, they checked and then resubmitted the correct bill.
c1. These two false dining charges actually showed up on my statement and my credit card bill, and customer service at RCCI only respond partially to requests (they acknowledge what is likely the problem but then never follow through and don't return calls, claim the boat doesn't answer them, etc.); three weeks later this is not solved.
d. I paid $211 for some number of photos on a memory stick, but when I attempted to put them in my computer I was told to download a separate program to read them, and halfway through downloading the product my screen told me the file was corrupted and it stopped. When I called RCCI I was told "that's not our responsibility, you need to deal with a company called Image Photo", to which I responded "you sent me the bill so it's you that has to solve my problem" to which I was told that they understood where I was coming from, but no solution as of yet.
All in all, whatever pleasant memories I had of my cruise (and there were a few) were overshadowed by the hassles (or downright attempts to fleece me, depending on how you look at it) of making arrangements, not getting hustled or paying a bill that is accurate. Read Less