12 Night Mediterranean Cruise
Brilliance of the Seas Sail Date: 05/14/2016
To whom it may concern:
I’m sorry to say that the cruise experience on this last trip was not one of the worst that I have experienced; it was THE worst I have ever experienced. I will not be selecting Royal Caribbean for any future cruise vacation.
I have cruised on other cruise lines, and have never seen all of the food venues closed by 9:00PM. The only option for eating after 9:00PM was a small snack bar that only had cold sandwiches and salads or a small selection of pizza until they ran out! Or, room service with a fee after 10:00PM, again, with a limited menu. Not very ‘guest friendly’ in my opinion.
This was particularly a problem the evening of the 1st night in Venice Italy when we docked at 3:00PM and were expected back by 10:00PM or so. After getting to the port of call, disembarking and taking the initial walking tour, there was not too much time to eat a nice dinner in Venice as the European custom is a long leisurely dinner. It was getting late, and the group of 9 that we were traveling with decided to forego dinner in Venice and return to the ship at about 9:00 or 9:30 PM and just eat on the ship only to find out there was nothing open on the ship to get anything to eat! When we went to the snack bar, we were stunned to find hundreds of other passengers in the same predicament crawling all over each other like ants for a slice of pizza before it ran out! When we went to Guest Services, we told that we should have eaten dinner in Venice and that we could just go to an early breakfast! And while the room service fee was nominal at approximately $4.00, it was not offered to be waived!
- Ports of Call
Again, I have cruised on other cruise lines, and have never been expected to pay additional transportation fees to actually get to the port of call!
In Venice, we were expected to pay an additional $25.00 a day for a 2 day docking ($50.00 per person) in order to get from the port to the city! And in Kotor Croatia an additional $12.00 for bus transportation back to the port. However, if you had an excursion booked through Royal Caribbean, the fees were not charged. This is unacceptable! If there is a port of call, there should be accessibility for ALL passengers to disembark and enjoy it without having to pay any additional fees! I paid for the port of call when I booked the cruise, and you should be aware of the transportation challenges and address them without affecting the passengers’ experience.
- Tender Disembarking
At the 1st port requiring tenders, the process was awful! There were hundreds of passengers all in queue through the deck blocking access to the staterooms on that deck; it was hot, crowded and utter confusion.
The next port requiring tenders was just slightly better as they were issuing tender passes. However, there was so much miscommunication about when the passes were available and how you could obtain one. It was originally announced that they would not be distributed until 12:15PM after docking/anchoring, but many people were able to get them MUCH earlier than that. And, when 1 member of our group of 9 went to get 9 passes, they were told that they could only get them for themselves. Then, another person was able to get them for additional people/rooms, and finally a 3rd person finished getting them for us! This meant that our group of 9 was separated into 3 groups on 3 different tenders with 3 different departure/arrival times in the port of call. We were not able to enjoy that port of call together.
The activities scheduled for times we were aboard the ship were inadequate. They were either scheduled for such a short time, cancelled with no notice, not interesting or had additional costs associated with them to be able to participate. The worst example I can tell you is the $500.00 jackpot bingo. Bingo can be a fun activity even if there is a fee for the cards to play. But, the way it was done on this cruise was a charge of $20.00 per card for only ONE game of bingo, and you either won the $500.00 or you didn’t! Why don’t you just play bingo for a few or several games, and at the end announce that the last game is for the $500.00 jackpot! I know I would have purchased cards and played for a while (as nothing else was going on) whether I was playing for the $500.00 or not!
In the 12 days on the ship, there were only 2 ‘parties’ where the cruise director and the staff participated and engaged passengers. While they were entertaining and fun, there were no ‘complimentary’ drinks or anything for the passengers.
Many days, reviewing the daily ‘newsletter’ for activities, if you removed the activities with a $ indicating a fee to participate, a sale in the shops, the art gallery hours or auctions, there was only 1 or 2 ‘real’ activities! And, they were not exciting! One day I saw that I all that was really left to do was to learn how to fold napkins into animals!
To further explain the boredom throughout the ship, the TV programming was an issue with many people complaining that they were ‘hostages’ forced to watch the same programs and episodes over and over again for 12 days! I honestly have never had an issue with TV programming on a cruise because I have never been left with only the option to be in my stateroom watching TV for entertainment! I don’t know anyone who goes on a cruise to watch TV in their stateroom!
Charging for movies in the stateroom that were being shown at different times for free on the ship is just being greedy! The movie theater only holds about 30 or so people, the weather in the evenings made it uncomfortable to watch a movie on the pool deck (when they were showing them!) so charging to watch the same movie in your stateroom is ridiculous.
Overall, I have never felt like a cow being herded from one place to another with a $ sign branded on my forehead! You have perfected the art of ‘nickeling and diming’ people for everything in order to enjoy the comforts of cruising.
- Missing ‘niceities’
There were no snacks (peanuts, pretzels, chips, popcorn…) at any bar where you were expected to sit and spend a lot money drinking!
There were no waiters anywhere except for in the bars offering to get anything for you.
The free coffee was left for hours making it bitter or cold or both!
The free beverage stations were closed at certain times, and you had to go to a bar for a drink.
I did bring these concerns up with the Front Desk Manger, Robert Marshall. 1st, getting an appointment was not easy! It took 3 days to finally straighten out a time and place. While he did seem interested in what was being said as he seemed to be taking notes, his response was just, ‘I’m sorry that you are having a bad experience.’ He did offer a discount of 15% of the cost of this cruise toward our next cruise but made no attempt to address the concerns of this cruise by refunding the port transportation fees, offering a free drink package for the last 2 days we were onboard at sea or offering a day tour of Barcelona when we arrived there at the end of the cruise. And, we have yet to receive the confirmation of the 15% discount offered that he said we would get. If this cruise experience was so bad, do you really think that a 15% discount would entice us to come back again? Absolutely not!