We are a couple in our low to mid 50s and went on the Western Caribbean itinerary (Labadee, Falmouth, and Cozumel). This was our 8th cruise and 6th with RCI. Rather than talk about the ship (which is FANTASTIC as most other folks have said), I want to focus this review on areas where things could be improved. The persistent hard sell, poor excursion offering, and mediocre specialty restaurant experience really took away from the overall enjoyment of this cruise.
The Hard Sell
We signed up for a couples massage with the goal of some relaxation. After the treatment, we were given the hard sell for acupuncture treatments, lotions, oils, and creams by the massage staff. This lasted at least 20 minutes (I know we could have just walked out, but we aren’t like that). There was a real push for the acupuncture treatments (maybe they were undersold for this cruise) and the best line I recall was “you should really try Dr. Soandso, he is from China!” Wow – how do you turn that down? – we did. The whole point of a massage is to relax and these two people were able to destroy any relaxation achieved. We walked out of the area more tense than when we walked in.
Are you reading this RCI? I know we must all walk through the sales pitch gauntlet at embarkation, but how about dialing back the sell after a treatment for relaxation?
We went on the “Best of Jamaica” excursion which I hope is not really the best Jamaica has to offer. The first stop was Dunn River falls after about an hour long bus ride. This is a fun little stop where you climb a waterfall that may have been natural at one point but has clearly been artificially modified to make it more accessible for climbing. The problem here was that after arriving, we spent maybe 45 minutes standing in line in the heat waiting for our tour guide to get the tickets. Then once inside, we waited another 30 minutes as people tried to figure out how to use the lockers. So for this water fall experience, we spent maybe 3 hours in total travel and waiting.
After the falls, we stopped at an aged resort for lunch where the food quality was absolutely horrible (and we are not that selective, believe me). In addition to the shabby venue and the poor food, there were cats walking around everywhere and one of them actually bit my finger breaking the skin (and I am cat person). At this point I just wanted to go back to the ship, but wait! We must first stop at a remote strip mall for 45 minutes on the way back! Why is this part of the excursion? Is this the best strip mall in all of Jamaica? By the time we got back to the ship it had been over 6 hours for basically a 20 minute waterfall climb, a bad lunch, and shopping at a strip mall. We actually were late getting back to the ship but of course, since this was an RCI excursion, they had to wait.
This excursion was so poor, we cancelled an 8-hour excursion we had planned for Cozumel and just ate the cost. In all fairness, RCI is not the only carrier that does this (are you listening Princess?), however, Princess’ activities and lunches are so much better quality and their “out of the way mandatory commerce stop” is usually something vaguely interesting where they show you how something is made and then try to sell it to you. My wife and I stayed on the bus at the strip mall and the tour guide said she didn’t blame us.
After many hard sell attempts by the Harmony staff for the dinner package we acquiesced and had a dinner at Chops Grille for a $100 upcharge (so apparently we are part of the problem!). The venue is very nice but we were seated along a row of 2 person tables that were separated by no more than 8 inches leaving absolutely no privacy for conversation. For $100 on top of the cruise cost, I would have expected a little privacy. The food was good (not exceptional) but the service was excellent.
The ship was great – plenty to do, great performers, good cruise director, the interior room we had was good size with lots of closet and drawer space. The staff was very friendly and our room steward was like a cleaning ninja – we never saw him but he cleaned our room twice a day. The food was generally better here than on other RCI ships we have been on and they did have a Lobster night, a chocolate dessert buffet one night in Windjammer that was incredible, and lox (smoked salmon) available in plain sight every morning in multiple venues (for a while RCI would only offer this on request).
Will we sail RCI again? Of course! But now we are a little wiser and will probably seek out independent excursion providers in the future.
Surprisingly roomy with lots of closet and drawer space. Bed was extremely firm and given our cabin location at the very forward portion of the ship, we felt the pitching every night as well as the vibrations at docking at each port.
Friendly staff and nice equipment. Only negative is the forced stop at a beach where locals try to sell you their wares they claim were hand made but are not. See main review about the hard sell....View All 31 Kayaking Reviews