Went on the October 23rd cruise out of Miami. Boarding was fine...smooth even. The ship itself is fine, although laid out a bit weird. Once you adjust to that it's easy to get around.
Our cabin was ok, although the housekeeper was not around for the whole first day. The staff speaks very little English, most were rude, and many would actually cut you off while walking without acknowledging your presence. Due to poor housekeeping, a lack of the wine and cheese basket that was promised would be in our cabin upon arrival, and the fact that we never set foot in the main dining room....I visited guest services to ask that gratuities for those services not be charged. They were only willing to remove 2 days charges. The guest services people were apathetic and had a dead look in their eyes....don't bother trying to resolve issues with them. They got your money and are keeping it.
If you have never cruised before, and have no other cruises to compare this too, you may have thought it was a great time. We, however, are used to being able to communicate with staff, get the service we pay for, and be treated nicer in general. Everyone on the ships practically begs for tips....you pay 10.00 for a weak drink, they tack on another 18% gratuity to the bill, and then the bar person expects you to also write in a tip for them....I got a couple nasty glances when I just signed and didn't add another couple bucks tip to an already inflated drink price.
We only dined at the buffet (Windjammer) it was a virtual shark feed. Most of the food is curry based Indian food. ALL THE TIME. The desserts were good, but the hamburgers and hot dogs were always cold. The buffet is always packed....and to make things worse, they kept closing off half of the seating area, forcing people to search for tables or leave the whole area to find a place to sit. Breakfasts were decent, once you fought your way in to dish up a plate. They are lacking in the area of the free beverages....most of the time something or other was out, they had the area closed, and good luck finding a hot cup of coffee after 9:00pm. The smoking section next to the pool was decent, though very windy at times. On the last night of the cruise, ALL the ashtrays disappeared.....it was like they were saying "the heck with you, you're leaving in the morning anyway". The shops on board are mainly full of expensive watches and jewelry. They sell liquor and cigarettes for good prices though. They don't open until 5:30, so if you need a tampon or sunscreen you're out of luck. I was just amazed at how bad this whole experience was. We actually considered getting off in Key West and flying home. However, we were to return to Miami the next morning, so we tuffed it out overnight. Disembarkation is a cluster fest. You will stand around in a line for an uncomfortable amount of time.
We were unable to visit Cococay due to rough water for the tenders, but they can't be blamed for that. We spent that day at sea....and it sucked really, really bad. There really isn't anything positive I can say about this cruise. The mashed potatoes were good, the solarium was a nice older crowd area, though even though kids are supposedly not permitted in that pool, there was a 10 year old snorkeling in it for most of a day.
Bottom line for us....Never again on Royal Caribbean....the guest services desk visit alone was enough to clinch that. I'll stick with the better cruise lines thank you very much.
Missed this port due to rough water for the tenders.
Dirty and the locals are very aggressive trying to sell you tours and taxi rides. The horses pulling the carriages look so miserable.