Our beloved RCCL really dropped the ball on this one and has shaken our opinion of the cruise line.
My wife and I are Diamond Crown and Anchor members and this was our 20th cruise on RCCL. We sailed on the Navigator of the Seas last year and had such a wonderful cruise experience we could hardly wait to sail on her again. I suppose this review will sound more like venting but I hope to save someone from what we experienced on this cruise.
We were scheduled to sail on Nov. 27th from Miami. Our itinerary included Labadee, Haiti, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and St. Maarten, Dutch West Indies.
Upon arrival at the Port of Miami to get on the ship there were lines of people in the vehicle parking lot. There were over 1,000 people waiting to register and get on the ship! We all stood in the parking lot for 2 hours and 45 minutes in sunny 80+ degree weather with no rest room facilities. We were herded into a tent to get through security and get our sea passes. Usually there is a separate line for Diamond, Diamond Plus and Pinnacle members but all people were herded through the same lines. Additionally after waiting the amount of time we did it was common to see people arrive in wheelchairs arrive late but be taken in ahead of us that had waited. This was fine with us HOWEVER, all those traveling with the person in the wheelchair were taken in ahead as well. In one case 15 people joined with the person and went on board with no wait. This whole embarking situation was not acceptable! A few days later during the Captain's Welcoming address he said, "Let's forget about this and move forward".
Anyway this turned out to be the very worst cruise we have ever experienced! The food in the Windjammer was horrible. We found the same food from lunch being served at dinner. Usually there is a meat carving station but the only thing being carved was ham. My favorite hash brown potatoes were nothing like we had on other cruises. They were soggy with oil and not browned enough while the taste was horrible. In general the food was tasteless and fair from enjoyable. Usually there is a pitcher of half and half for coffee but not this time. The attendant said that they did not have any and we were asked to use milk to lighten our coffee. Later they did put very small containers of half and half out that were so small we needed 3 or 4 just to get the coffee light. There just was no variety in the food served here. On the Oasis, we found that the food in the Windjammer was equal to the food served in the Main Dining Room, very good! Also The Windjammer had no specialty night where they set up a station to individually cook a pasta dish for each person. Nothing! There was just nothing special for the passengers like on other ships.
Also speaking of food, there was no lobster night in the Main Dining Room! We were told that lobster night was being eliminated on the smaller ships. I found this interesting as the fare we paid for the Navigator was the same as the fare we paid on the Oasis. If the money was the same, why not the service and lobster? One night in the Main Dining Room the menu called for prime rib. When we ordered it, our waiter said it was not available due to the chef changing his mind about the menu!!!!! By now we were convinced that there is a definite problem with food on this ship. I know RCCL is trying to cut where it can but this is ridiculous as many of us sail to enjoy the food.
To be fair, we did eat twice in Chops. It was excellent! The food quality was superb and we truly enjoyed it but then again we had to pay extra for it. I am a bit sensitive about the food issues due to the fact I got food poisoning on the second night from my meal in the Main Dining Room and was sick in bed for two days unable to eat. I suggest you do not eat the Red Snapper or have the fish chowder (this is a joke as there was no fish in the tomato juice chowder, another cost cutting measure.) Service in the Main Dining Room was very good and the staff must be recognized for a job well done. A waiter confidentially suggested that we not blame the servers for the food as they only deliver what the chef gives them. Point well taken.
Other aggregations include The Windjammer scheduling to be open at a certain time and then being 30 minutes late to open with people lined up waiting. During our stop in San Juan we tried to get off the ship but were stopped and forced to stay on board for an additional 30 minutes while something else was resolved. People lined up and then being told to wait.
As we were leaving the ship, we took our luggage with us to speed the process. Again we had to line up and wait to get off. We were told we could get off between 7 and 7.30 but were forced to wait until 8.30 and we had docked closer to 6 am! This just seemed disorganized with the whole ship.
I do not know if you have experienced this but we certainly did....the public address system is so poor you cannot understand what people are saying. The loudspeakers just blare and are unintelligible. I wonder what it would be like in an emergency? Thankfully most of the announcements were for other than emergencies.
We enjoy the various hot tubs around the ship. We found it incredible that children 4 and 5 years old are allowed to get into the hot swirling water. No parents in sight. There is a placard on the tub that reads that children younger than 16 must be under parental supervision.
On a more positive note, we found the crew to be pleasant and helpful. Most had a greeting for us and had smiles on their faces. Our room attendant was wonderful. In my critique to RCCL I suggested that they send some of the "corporate higher ups" to learn a few things from her. She knew how to treat customers and make people feel good. She was very capable. Donna Duncan is one exemplary employee! Speaking of cabins, it was refreshing to see the size of our cabin compared to the same cabin on the Oasis in the same category. Our cabin on the Oasis seemed small compared to the one on the Navigator.
Music, was a big issue for us as one year ago we had a perfect blend of music. Music great at pool side and music great for dancing after dinner. Not to be found on the Navigator for this cruise. What is happening? Can they be cutting this much? Does the Captain not realize how poor his ship is appearing?
I guess I am trying to warn those of you that may want to sail from Miami on the Navigator. It is not the same ship we were on last year. So disappointed with RCCL on this trip, it has shaken my perception of them.
Clean, large and all things worked great. Balcony was nice sized.