We travelled to Sydney to board the Radiance for a 12 day cruise around New Zealand on 28/1/17, having booked the cruise approx 9 months previously via the local Flight Centre with Circular Quay being the boarding point. On 25/1/17, I was ... Read More
We travelled to Sydney to board the Radiance for a 12 day cruise around New Zealand on 28/1/17, having booked the cruise approx 9 months previously via the local Flight Centre with Circular Quay being the boarding point. On 25/1/17, I was formally notified by Royal Caribbean via email that the boarding would occur via White Bay and tendering to the ship from there, that it "may take a little longer" and giving allocated boarding times depending on what deck your accomodation was on.
Well, as far as I can tell, Royal Caribbean were not honest with their information or the way they informed the passengers on this cruise.
The boarding from White Bay - which is a container port, with very poor facilities surrounded by what looks like waste ground and it not adequate for the purpose of having 2,500 passengers board a cruise ship - lasted in excess of 3 1/2 hours of what I can only describe as hell!!!
On arrival at White Bay, passengers were ferried on a hot bus to a piece of waste ground with a large, hot tent with a never ending queue of people being processed before being loaded onto another bus to a building with more never ending queues, leading to a hall filled with cheap bendy plastic chairs to wait. Whilst waiting passengers were given a stale muffin and a printed leaflet from Royal Caribbean "apologising for the inconvenience", to then join more queues, getting on another bus to the quay, then a tender to the boat. During this torture passengers were subjected to being given "attention/direction and guidance" by a crowd of Royal Caribbean employees - over-enthusiastic, smiley people who were just simply very loud and annoying!!!
We felt very sorry for those passengers who were either aged/mobility challenged - it was terrible to see them subjected to this inexplicably overlong boarding process in a hot, stuffy environment. Once on board, there was no recognition given to what the passengers had had to endure to get there, not compensatory drink/voucher for a free drink/food - Nothing!!! This was definitely a sure fire way to rile approx 2,500 passengers all in one go!!!
THEN, we were informed that we would have to go through the same process on our return to Sydney - it was a horrible thought to have hanging over your head for 12 days, let me tell you. I have been on a number of cruises in the past, but never been subjected to such an arduous, totally disgusting and inhuman way to just board a ship. Royal Caribbean gave no explanation to passengers for their decision to organise boarding this way (the fact that their prize ship, the Ovation was docked at Circular Quay on the same day may have something to do with it being a financial decision???). Royal Caribbean should have been paying me to have to undergo this terrible service!!
Many passengers expressed that they would never cruise with Royal Caribbean again throughout the cruise because of their boarding/disembarking ordeal - and we totally agree.
Royal Caribbean need to take a leaf out of Celebrity's books - the overall standard of just about everything on their ships far outweighs Royal Caribbean, particularly their communication regarding the passengers experiences, standards of food, activities, entertainment, acknowledgement of their staff's hard work/standard of service - so I know what cruise line I will be praising and booking further cruises with in the future.
The standard of the cruise itself was very average - the live entertainment was very average, activities were poorly planned and executed at times, activity choice repetitive, food provided in the Windjammer of average quality and all plates, bowls, cups were plastic!!! Plus always having to circle and circle again to find an empty table.
The My Dining system used on this cruise was absolutely ridiculous - it defeated the purpose of having the option of being able to "choose" when you wanted to eat as I found out after boarding that the RC system encourages passengers to block book reservations for the whole cruise via the RC website prior to boarding. This leads to passengers who were not aware of this system (me) being left with the only option of dining late every night. There was also a lot of pressure from this system for passengers to dine on large tables with other parties - not what our group of 4 wished to do, and we were not alone. We took this issue up with the Cascades Dining Room Front Desk person (I felt sorry for her, as this system was very difficult to administer and people were constantly frustrated by having to wait whether they had a reservation or not!), finishing up with having to make a block booking for 7.30 pm for the whole cruise and cancelling for when we made a decision to try a signature restaurant. This system has no "My Dining" choice about it and I admire the Dining Room Staff for the job they do under this system. It would be better to do it the Celebrity cruise line way - also called My Dining. Passengers can make a reservation one day ahead only - that way ALL passengers get a chance to "choose" the time they want to dine.
We experienced poor preparation for some classes held by the entertainment crew - dancing lesson showing how to do a beginner waltz - music totally inappropriate for this resulting in participant couples charging around the floor at a rate of knots trying to keep in time with the music, being very confused and then provided with a 30 second piece of music to practice with instead, as the instructor didn't have any alternative music.
The tendering from the ship to Akaroa was long and frustrating for passengers - this was not helped by no announcements made by staff via the loudpspeaker as to why there was a hold up other than "the sea is a bit choppy" - followed by prolonged silence! It also appeared to me that the attending crew were instructed not to say anything when passengers complained or insisted that they needed to get off because they had a tour booked - very frustrating. Found out afterwards that there was a hydraulic fault at one of the ship's tendering points, so it could not be used - why didn't staff just announce this??
The band who played on the open deck every afternoon, played the same style of music every day, at the same loud volume - very boring.
There were quite a few broken chairs in the cinema which stayed broken the whole cruise.
Couldn't get adequate information prior to the cruise about the Beverages Packages either via their website or sending emails with our questions. Found out what we wanted to know after we boarded (the type of wine we prefer would still incur extra cost!!!) - decided not to purchase the Beverage Package (would have cost approx $1,500 AUD for 2 people, & there is only one alcohol beverage package on offer), paid as we went and saved ourselves heaps.
The disembarking process took a little less time than boarding. We were allocated group 20 to disembark at approx 9.20 am - had we not impulsively joined the long queue snaking down the stairs waiting to board the tender from group 16 at approx 9 o'clock, we were at real risk of not being able to the airport to get our flight back to Melbourne at 1.30 pm the afternoon - this again caused a lot of angst, pressure and resentment that practically all the passengers on the ship I spoke to, like ourselves, had booked the cruise in the belief that boarding would be via Circular Quay and no-one had any idea what the result of being moved to White Bay would mean - it was much more than "inconvenient", it was dishonest in the way Royal Caribbean communicated this with passengers, disrespectful to have not compensated passengers in some way for their treatment towards us and, I would suggest, has resulted in a significant number of people vowing never to cruise with RC again!!!
I completed the RC survey emailed to us when I got home - have had no response to date, but given past experience with the management of Royal Caribbean, I shouldn't be surprised. It wasn't long ago I saw newspaper advertisements by RC boasting that they had been voted the Number One Cruise Ship in Australia!!! I just wonder who they canvassed to get that result!
Not Happy, Royal Caribbean - you get a No from Me!! Read Less