This review encompasses the whole experience, booking, communication, and the cruise itself.
This was our 4th Med cruise with RC and we struggled a bit with finding a Med cruise that didn't replicate ports we'd already ... Read More
This review encompasses the whole experience, booking, communication, and the cruise itself.
This was our 4th Med cruise with RC and we struggled a bit with finding a Med cruise that didn't replicate ports we'd already visited. We got around that by boarding at Rome instead of Barcelona, and then taking a coast tour at Florence. Great, all sorted!
The online booking process direct with RC isn't the slickest in the world, but the one thing that annoys me is that you can't seem to book a coach transfer, only a very expensive limo transfer....more on that later. (If the coach transfer is already included I'm even more annoyed, as it doesn't say so.)
So we landed at Rome and got our limo transfer to the ship, and we cheked in without problem and our bags were in our room within a couple of hours.
We were in 14192, a portside slightly forward of midships cabin with an outside balcony. The style of cabin we've had on all our previous cruises. I think the beds are a generous size, a super King size if you like. The balcony is much larger than previous cruises, big enough for a full size lounger.
The cabin position was good for getting up to the forward pool area, but the windjammer is aft in this ship (I didn't check) so a minute or two to walk to the aft lifts.
The downsides to level 14 is that your are directly under the main pool level, and this gives you a couple of issues :
a) The overhang from the pool deck means you get very little direct evening sun.
b) It was directly below the towel station, so the early morning cleaning routine woke us up frequently.
c) A portside cabin makes no difference when docking, as it's starboard in dock quite a bit also. The views from most ports on this trip are a bit dreary in any case.
d) the sail up to Marseille can be a bit breezy, but our balcany door seal failed and blew like a steam train whilstlr most of the night. I jammed it with the compass leaflets! They fixed it the next day.
I find the TV offering extremely poor. There is a channel that shows you your itinerary, and there are tablets around the ship that do also. However, when I tried to book a tour on one it kept crashing.
The WI-FI offer is shockingly expensive (I get phone separation anxiety!) , so in retrospect as this tour meant we'd be on shore or close to a network every day bar the sail to Marseille I would buy extra international credit on my phone and use the local network. (My wife did she spent £7 in the week, as opposed to my £100 for the week.
So, all that done in the first 2 hours we went for a walk on this monster sized ship, and i is an impressive looking beast, from the outside and inside. One thing we didn't appreciate is that every cabin has a balcony, the inside cabins overlook central perk or the boardwalk.
It, as normal took us a couple of days to remember our port/starboard, aft/foward, made more complicated by the windjammer being in the "wrong" end of the boat.
I feared that getting a space to sit by the pool would be difficult given the number of guests, but it was never a problem, even on the sailing day.
There are a large number of pools and jacuzzi points to take a dip, an enough bars dotted around on deck to get a refreshment within 60 seconds of getting to the bar.
We were Gold members and both of us were on the $42/day drinks package, which we didn't get anywhere near using to it's value, so maybe we'd pay as you go next time.
We spent an hour or so touring the rest of the ship, and found the shopping offer as normal to be extremely exclusive and expensive branded goods, which didn't excite us at all. The slides looked impressive but we didn't have a go on them, and we also had a quick look in the gym, and the other eating places on the boardwalk and central perk. We ate at the pizza place for a snack one day, and had a beer at the "pub", but mainly had a pre-dinner drink at the schooner bar.
If I'm honest I expected RC to do something with this ship that amazed me, not just give me Adventure of the Seas, but a big bigger. A big slide doesn't count, but the outdoor arena at the blunt end looked good. the casino smells badly of stale tobacco, I avoided it.
We didn't take in any shows at all, as we were at dinner from half 7 to half 9, then after dinner drinks, a walk up top, then bed by 11 as we were up at 6 most days for excursions.
The staff as usual are all eager to please, especially the waiters in My time dining (or whatever they're calling it these days). We paid gratuities up front for MTD and booked times in advance which worked well and we never had to queue for more than 2-3 minutes around our booked time.
Food offer was smiilar to previous years, and all of excellent quality. The one dish I left beacuse I didn't like it much was instantly replaced with another dish I chose. There is another upper floor of dining (for the suites?) and there is the Main Dining room MDR downstairs. This makes it all feel a bit cramped and when the crew do their normal singing and serviette waving you can only hear but not see much, as there is so much less viewing space.
I was alos a little concerned that the windjammer would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers, but even on the odd day we were there for breakfast at 07:30, the staff kept opening up more seats and more serving stations to accomodate everyone. I never queued at all, ever. The food again was of great varity and great quality. We ate in there for lunch most days as well.
There are water stations at the outside bars, and you can also come in the WJ and get juices. You can't get the coke on demand at the autoserve without a premium package and the official coke cup.
We had of course registered our credit card during the booking process, but we had a problem with it twice on our cruise. After a couple of days (onbaording day at Barcelona) our seapass card was decined at a bar, so we couldn't buy anything at all!! que me joing at massive queue at customer services for a 40 minutes wait to be told the problem was our credit card had been declined. Quick phone call to the bank sorted that (we hadn't told them to expect overseas transactions), but why couldn't RC have sent a private message to our room to explain, not leave me completely cut off without a clue as to why? That experience realled teed me off. There was another far worse experience to come.....later.
They need to triage that queue, urgently!
Okay, now onto the tours. We pre-booked all of tours with RC. It's an expensive way of doing it and there are many that do their own thing, but it's the way we prefer and hadn't experienced any issues with this method before. the one general comment I will make is that all of the tours left little or no usable time for your own pleasure.
Day 2 Naples/Capri/Sorrento/Pompei
Sail from Rome to Naples overnight, then disembark for a Tour to Capri (walk to a smaller ferry dock). Nice ride over in a small ferry for half an hour, then a trip on the fenicular railway for 2 minutes and up to the top. Spent 30 minutes on a short guided tour, then another 30 minutes free time, and we were back down the funny colour to board another ferry to Sorrento. This was an all day tour so we had a three course lunch at a local restaurant which was excellent.
a 20 minute "free time" followed and then were off to Pompei on the coach. It's not a bad tour round the site, takes about 90 minutes and there are as ever plenty of tat stalls at the end.
Sail to Barcelona
Spent all day on deck 16 taking in the sun and supping vino. Grabbed lunch from the WJ and brought it outside to eat. Our one and only full day of doing nothing.
I have been here on business but we'd never been here together so our tour today was the Cathereral and the Gothic quarter. (Our original tour that included Jambon tasting was cancelled due to lack of interest.) The Catherdal was very impressive but our timeline didn't allow us to go inside (it's about 10euro), so we then had a walk through the city to the gothic quarter where we took in another couple of historic sights. unfortunately it was Sunday so our again limited free time right by the market couldn't have been better wasted. It's still a strict catholic country so nothing much opens on Sunday. Oh, make sure you have legs/arms covered for visits to Religious sights in both Spain and Italy.
Palma de Mallorca
Short overnight sail and we docked pretty much in downtown Palma. Another guided tour that was very similar to the Barcelona tour.....more gothic, and more Catherderal. in retrospect I would have just taken a walk off the boat.
Another slightly disappointing half day tour, but it was at least on an "open top" bus. Well, not a traditional one. It's a mini bus with the top cut off and then covered up with some canvas. That was a cool way of travelling, what wasn't cool was a french driver/guide who couldn't speak English. Really poor when there are two drop off/pick up points that he has to mime the location and time!
Another religious location, another 20 minutes of unusable free time.
Florence La Spezia
Now this was a good trip. we'd done Florence and Pisa before so we went on a coatal boat tour from La Spezia taking in la cinque terre. It starts off with a tour through the main village narrow streets and takes in fabulous home based bakeries and pesto making. Wonderfull to see.
we then spent an hour on an open top ferry touring 3 coves of local villages which can't be accessed by road as the cliffs are so steep. Very pretty.
We disembarked on a very bouncy jetty at the last village, and wandered around the shops and bought our lunch at a local pesto shop.
The route back to the boat is firstly via a train for one stop, then the bus (waiting at village number 1), and we got back late at just before 7. Only issue with this full day tour is that lunch wasn;t included, but they don't tell you that!
So we're packed after dinner and our cases are taken down later that night.
Our limo pick up says we have a pick up time of 06:40......but our boat doesn't dock until 07:00 and our plan isn't until 13:10??? We don't need to be at the airport 5 hours in advance we think. (our imo was booked on-line with RC as part of the original booking)
So our suspicions are confirmed when our disembarkation time is given as around 08:00-08:30.
Then the first of 2 major issues that will cause me never to set foot on a RC again.
We disembark, and my wife scans her seapass card at security and goes through. I scan mine and I get a loud "you 'aint getting off buddy" buzz, and I am instructed to go to customer services. No reason given. yes, I am on deck 2, about 2 seconds to get off, and you want me to barge back through the crowd to get back u to deck 6, then wait 40 minutes in another queue!!
So I do. I have no choice.
Our credit card has been declined again ! No time to clear it with the bank, so we empty the last of our cash (about $100) to clear the tab, and we rush back down to get off.
No car. No driver. no sign with our name. Out 4 hours until our flight, the airport is an hour away.
There is no help desk on the dock, there are no RC reps. Nobody! I can't get back on the ship, I have no international calling, but i remember my wife does.
Call the limo service. They cam at 06:40 and left just 10 muntes ago. They don't know if they can get the driver back. I wait for a bit considering options. There aren't many.
a) wait until they send another driver and risk missing the plane/staying overnight/paying for a new flight, or
b) pay 200 euro to acquire one of only about 3 waiting private mini vans. (there is no general taxi rank here!)
I wait 10 minutes and take option b.) splitting the cost with another couple in the same boat, pardon the pun.
We get to the airport exactly 3 hours before depature and sail through to departues in 45 minutes. I haven't had so much stress in a very long time, and that single airport trip cost me £200 english pounds.
Tat was the last time RC. You blew it. The worst bit is that there isn't a customer service option to talk about holidays you've been on, or customer feedback. Someone please send thema link to this post. Read Less