My husband and I were excited to visit Aruba, Bonaire, & Curacao. While we have been scuba diving on numerous occasions in the Caribbean, we had never visited the Netherland Antilles. We are both certified PADI divers and both have over 1000 logged dives each. While my husband has more expertise in equipment repair & calibration, my experience is as both an IDC Staff Instructor & in Open Water Certifications in Monterey, California. As a side note, my husband was certified to use Enriched Air with PADI in 2012 & I have been certified to teach Enriched Air classes with PADI since 1999. We booked 2 tank boat dives, with Nitrox, on 4 different shore excursions. It was not to be.
#1 Your C-cards don't matter. We showed our cards to both the PADI shop onboard & each & every shore operator - as required prior to diving. Each shore operator had a different set of rules. 1st stop: "We don't allow cruise ship divers from to use Nitrox. They get confused. That's the agreement we have with Royal Caribbean." Yet all the other shore operators had no problem with renting us Nitrox tanks. #2 Royal Caribbean makes other arbitrary restrictions. "Max. Depth is 18 meters." Yet different shore operators had different rules. For example: "45 feet for 45 minutes, both dives." #3 Undisclosed limits & conditions of advertisements. Wind was significant in 2 locations. 30 to 35 knots. One operator takes us out (as we had booked) on a 2 tank boat dive. It was a bit choppy, but we're from California. Think: Monastery Beach. So, wind to us was not a factor. Another operator doesn't TELL us that we GOT 2 shore dives, until it was too late to do anything about the change of plans. It was a 20-25 minute bus ride from the ship to the staging area, then a short walk to the dive shop & beach entry. After we arrive, we are then told "too bad it's so windy." We had booked boat dives. #4 No notice, choice, or refund. We were not notified of the changes, given an opportunity to do something else, or even offered a refund for the arbitrary changes. #5 Rental equipment. Our gear did not arrive to our room until late the following morning from our initial embarkation. Too late for us to make the 8am meeting time for our 1st dive. We were at the front desk & the shore excursion desk numerous times the night before, as well as the following morning. Looking for our luggage, as well as telling them we cannot dive without our gear. RC refused to refund our money. Their answer: "You can use rental gear." Excuse me?? We did not bring thousands of dollars of our personal gear (Zeagle BCD's, Regulators, Gauges, Computers, Masks, Fins, Booties, Snorkels, Shortie Wetsuits, Flashlights, Save a Dive Kit, Nitrox Analyzer, etc....) to use RENTAL equipment.
The food was OK, not spectacular, but OK.
We even tried the Chef's Table & Chop's. Better, but again, not spectacular.
The evening shows were great. Especially love the dancers.
The staff in the serving areas were wonderful. Our room steward was fabulous.
However, the general policies of Royal Caribbean made it impossible for us to enjoy our primary goal: scuba diving.
To summarize: We will NEVER cruise with Royal Caribbean again.
While the stateroom was a good size for 2 adults with scuba gear, the overall condition of the room appeared very shabby & worn. The carpet was torn in two different areas with large sections open & easily tripped over. The door to the bathroom had been obviously smashed by the stateroom door numerous times & had been cheaply taped over. The black mold in the shower/tub area was small but noteworthy. Our room steward, Troy Simon, was an absolute delight. He did everything within his power to make things right. He never complained about our scuba gear; sand, & water all over the bathroom, every single shore day! The tub made a great rinse tank! We always came back to a clean & fabulous stateroom! And we made sure to tip accordingly for our scuba mess. We feel $20 a day is appropriate, as the staff is extremely underpaid. Overall, the cabin was a disappointment for the price & what was advertised.