We are a couple in our 40's and this was our tenth cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity, Disney, NCL and Carnival before and this was our second time with RCCL. Our previous cruise a couple of years ago was great and ... Read More
We are a couple in our 40's and this was our tenth cruise. We have cruised on Celebrity, Disney, NCL and Carnival before and this was our second time with RCCL. Our previous cruise a couple of years ago was great and we were very satisfied. This is the reason we choose RCCL again this year.
Unfortunately this time we could see that RCCL has cut some corners to save money and it shows. But we still had a good experience so I would still recommend RCCL but read this review to know what to expect.
We choose this cruise mostly based on the itinerary that was offered. This cruise was a 12 night cruise with 4 days at sea. The cruise left and return to Harwich (UK) and ports included Copenhagen (Denmark), Tallin (Estonia), St.Petersburg (Russia), Helsinki (Finland), Stockholm (Sweden) and Skagen (Denmark). Initially this cruise was sold with Visby (Sweden) as the last port, but it was later replaced by Skagen which is too bad because Skagen is not an interesting destination at all.
This is a nice ship that is well designed so you are able to find your way around in no time. It is spacious and it never feels crowded in the public areas. The "Centrum" area is an open space in the middle of the ship that goes from deck 4 to deck 11 and it is great because when there is a show or a performance on deck 4 you can gather around this place on almost every deck and enjoy the music and the view.
The stateroom is nice and very functional so it feels bigger than similar staterooms on other ships. In fact, this stateroom is bigger than many other "family-room" we book with other cruise company. They made really good use of the space. Everything was very clean and the service was meeting our expectations.
The evening shows were good and we enjoyed them. There was a good mix of singing, dancing, comedy, tribute, etc… The only exception that I could think of was the magician which was really lame.
The ports of call were the main reason we choose that cruise and they were all great to the exception of Skagen. We never expected any delay to get off the ship in the morning. In fact, sometime we were even able to get off the ship earlier than the time printed on the daily journal. We never had to tender either which is good.
The ports were all very interesting but my advice would be to book your excursions off-ship because they are a lot cheaper for the same experience.
The pool area was a nice place to relax. We never had any problem to find a chair on this ship. The staff seemed to apply the "no hog chair" policy and most of the passenger did not reserve a chair if they were not there.
There is good soft ice cream in the Windjammer restaurant, and you can always find some good refreshment in the "Park Café". They frequently have "Strawberry" and "Mango" no-sugar added water which is very refreshing, one of the best options when you are thirsty. In the morning there is an omelette bar which offers the best choice.
About the main dining room (Reflections), we were a group of 15 so we had two big tables. The service was very good at one of the table, but average at the other table. At the good table, after the first night the waiter would bring us our usual drinks as soon as we sat. He was very attentive and always had a great smile to offer. However at the other table the service was slow and we never saw a smile on our waiter's face. And the assistant waiter was borderline rude. I also noticed that they are not too strict on casual nights and you won't have any problem getting in wearing something nice and clean, even if it is not long pants.
The sports area is great. You have a nice climbing wall, a very well maintained miniature golf and a "basketball/volleyball" court that are fun to use. There is also a running track if you are in the mood.
Registration, embarquation and disembarquation went smoothly and rapidly.
The food was really disappointing. The food in the Windjammer buffet at lunch and dinner did not offer much variety and the taste was just average. It was not bad, but it was not very good either. Most of the time there is a "burger/hot dog/pizza" counter but the patties are bring all at the same time in a big plate and they could stay there for a while so they are never really hot, just lukewarm most of the time.
About dinner in the main dining room things were not much better. Most of the time the steak was overcook (even when ordered rare) and it was not tender at all. We got a good steak about 2 nights out of 12. The bread was really good and the presentation of the main course was good, but it definitely lacked flavour. A lot of people were talking about the quality of the food and were surprised that it was not better than that. The deserts were ordinary at the exception of the "chocolate sensation" cake that was the best choice most of the nights.
Breakfast was a little better in the main dining room if you know the secret!!! The first time I went I was about to leave after reading the menu because everything on it was the same things we could get at the Windjammer. But before leaving I spoke with the head server and told him I was very deceived because there were no "eggs Benedictine" and no smoked salmon on the menu. He then told me that those items were still available, but they just don't put those on the menu and they do not mentioned those either unless you ask for those specifically! Those are the best items you can get for breakfast and RCCL do not advertise them, this is one of place where RCCL decided to cut so now you know!
On our previous cruise the Park Café was a nice option. They had smoked salmon and bagels available for breakfast, and in the afternoon they had individual bags of chips. But all that is gone now. They have burrito and egg muffin in the morning but no more smoked salmon and bagels. We could not get any chips either at the beginning of the cruise. However, the chips just appeared around day 6 and they were available up to day 9 then they disappeared. RCCL cut their expenses but I hope they do not expect that we won't notice.
Another irritating thing is the short hours you can get ice cream. Ice cream is not so expensive, so if I want an ice cream cone at 10h00AM or after 9h00PM, why can't I get some? I do not understand why they do not put the soft ice cream machine in an area accessible around the clock like they do on other cruise line.
If you are looking for a snack after 11h00PM, good luck. You can always use room service but there is an extra charge at night.
As for the Cinema, there was limited choice and most movies were at least two years old.
About the evening shows, there is not much choice if you are not interested by the main show in the theater. It would be great if they could book a couple of comedian to provide stand-up shows in one of the many location available at night.
When we got to the main restaurant the first night we were surprised they assigned us 2 tables of 10 since we specifically asked for 2 tables of 8 when we booked (we were a group of 15). But even worst, they completed the 2 tables by assigning 2 other passengers to each tables. We all speak French except the 2 other passengers at each tables. It was very awkward for us and for them too so we asked if our group could be move to 2 tables of 8. The women in charge spoke French so she told us that she would see what she could do, and then she just turned around and told the other passenger (in English) that she was sorry for the fact they were assigned at a table of a French speaking group but that was because we (the group) never told the cruise line that we were a group and we never requested anything special for our group. I don't know if she thought that we could not understand her, but I made sure to let her know that we did specifically requested 2 tables of 8 when we booked the cruise, and again a couple of weeks before the cruise when we wrote to the cruise line to specifically confirm this. The problem was not us not mentioning or requesting anything, the problem was with the RCCL system (or lack of) that did not followed up our request to the cruise ship responsibles. They finally were able to reassign everyone to more appropriate tables, but the attitude of the woman in charge was rude and not very professional.
We bought the "unlimited soda" package and if you plan to do that, be aware that the choice is very very limited. You can have coke, diet-coke, sprite and that's about it, and all of those are fountain soda. There was a couple of bar that had sprite-zero in cans, but most of the time we tried to order it we were answered that they did not have anymore sprite-zero. The fountain soda was on and off, it was flat about 3 times out of 10.
The soda package is definitely not worth it. You will be better to drink the orange/apple juice or the no-sugar added strawberry/mango water in Park Café and buy your soft drink individually when you really crave it. At least you would be able to ask for the good stuff (cans).
The last thing that is really annoying is the smokers on board. Why do they accommodate so much the smoking crowd? There is a complete side of the outside decks that is reserved for smokers and this is a real annoyance. The number of smoker on that cruise was lower than I noticed on other cruise (I guess this had something to do with the "age factor" of the passenger) but even then, it does not take many smoker to stink up a place. Just walking on the smoking side of the deck to go from one place to another was bothering enough to avoid it at all price.
If you choose this cruise for the ports of call you will be very satisfy. You just have to know that you won't be served the best of food, but you won't be starving either! I would definitely consider booking another RCCL cruise if they offer an interesting itinerary. Read Less