The good and the bad: I did enjoy the entertainment, especially the Tango show and lessons, the Karaoke, the dance parties, etc. but the dining experience ruined it for me.
This was my 4th cruise, but my 1st from Baltimore. I am vegan and gluten free because I am allergic to dairy and gluten, but I have never had any issue. I usually just alert the staff and they make things I can have. This time I did alert the staff, and spoke with them at length daily, but it was hit or miss and mostly badly miss. Either I got nothing or I was given dishes that I was told were vegan and gluten free and either I realized they were not, or my body told me they were not later. I was sick to my stomach the last two days, from the reaction I have to dairy.
To give some examples, the day before thanksgiving I told the staff what I wanted to eat. On Thanksgiving day, the only vegan and gluten free appetizer specially made was given to another guest. When my entrée arrived, I was told they could not make the appetizer I requested (something already on the menu, minus the cream). They should have told me this upfront, as they discussed making it more than 24 hours before. The entrée was fake chicken, which I specifically and repeatedly told them that I could not eat because it contains gluten. I requested the same thing but with tofu and not fake meat. I sent it back. They brought it out again, minus the fake chicken, still no tofu. At this point I decided to quit trying to actually have a thanksgiving dinner, and have dessert instead. But at dessert time, they again said they did not have the dessert I requested, strawberries, although they were present on the menu and other guests’ plates. At no point any day did they ever offer me something else when claiming they didn’t have something. So for thanksgiving dinner I had salad and a banana, and my meal and holiday experience were ruined.
For the next day, I again requested tofu and mushrooms. What I got was some cold vegetable sludge with literally two mushrooms and a few tiny cubes of tofu. I asked for more mushrooms and tofu, again they said they had none. For dessert they gave me raw, cold, uncooked, unsweetened canned pumpkin in a dish. Obviously you don’t eat uncooked food from a can, not to mention that it was disgusting. They did give me soup that they said was vegan and gluten free, but I am sure it was not based on how I felt later and that it was indistinguishable from the non vegan version the other guests were eating.
The chef did make me things special at times and they were great. I believe the issue was with the wait staff. In order to actually get anything I could eat, I had to wait an hour or more and ask multiple waiters repeatedly. This was embarrassing in front of all of the rest of my party. They would all be done eating and I would still be begging for something. The wait staff also outright lied to me about not having things like cinnamon, strawberries, mushrooms, tofu, etc which magically reappeared later or in other places. I don’t think they bothered to ask for it or speak to the chef half of the time. Other people placed special orders, and they were actually given them, and in a timely manner, so that was not the issue.
I don’t think the staff had a clear understanding what vegan or gluten free meant. Part of it is actually that many are not native English speakers, and some come from countries without a large number of vegetarians. I also don’t think they realize that food allergies can make people sick or kill them. They were acting like it’s just an annoyance and not a serious problem. When they tell someone something doesn’t contain dairy and they can eat it, they need to make sure because there are serious problems when it isn’t correct.
When I finally complained to guest services, I was told I should have came to them sooner. I went to waiters, head waiters, chefs, etc. Why do I have to spent the time complaining while my party is out dancing? It’s a simple fix, but my feeling was they did not want to do anything. It should have been right from the beginning.
The boat was much smaller than the one I went on last year (from NJ), and had a lot less features like no ice skating rink, no minigolf, etc.
Our stateroom attendant was great. Guest Services overall was very good. Entertainment was great (music and music theater especially).
I was not happy that the ship did not stop in Key West. I was looking forward to Key West the most, as it was the only city I had not been to. Royal Caribbean previously did this, when they canceled stops in Martinique and Guadeloupe on another trip I went on. In that case, at least they replaced the stops with other stops. Here they didn’t and three days on the boat at sea was too much.
I live right down the road from the Baltimore terminal but after this experience I wouldn’t want to do it again. At least not with this ship. My advice for people considering purchasing is to go to NY/NJ for a better experience.
Typical room. The 4th Floor is a great location,probably the best because it is convenient to everything (dining, bars, theater, center, exits). Stateroom attendants did an amazing job.
We set up our own kayak tour in a nature preserve. It was half the price of the one offered on the boat. We saw dolphins! Then we walked on the beach. There is a public beach next to the terminal. Don't pay for a taxi to the beach. I also ate at Waffle House, since the boat food was so horrible. It is good to have cash on hand, we needed it for the kayak tour.
We walked to the beach. Its only a few blocks. Do not pay for a taxi!!! There is a public beach. We met some professional athletes there and played beach soccer, swam, sunbathed. We shopped a little too, but prices were not extraordinary (jewelry, luxury goods).
Beach was beautiful. We laid outside. We found a private area to swim. We had some fresh coconut off of the tree. It was too young, but still delicious.