I have been cruising since 1983 as a passenger on Carnival, NCL and Holland America. Although my husband and I are dedicated Holland America cruisers, we decided to give RCCL a try in order to expand our cruising options. From the moment we arrived at the pier for our November 14 Enchantment of the Seas cruise, we knew this was not going to be the kind of experience we had come to expect. We had to ask where to go to check in our luggage and ourselves as there was nobody to tell us how to proceed. Our Five night Western Caribbean cruise was to celebrate my husbands birthday. Despite mentioning this during booking and at least five times both in the dining room, on embarkation and in Chops Grille, no recognition was given.
Not only was I struck by the lack of cabin amenities compared to every other cruise line I have traveled with but was terribly disappointed with the quality of the food and the extraorindary noise levels of the deck areas, but I found the process of getting towels the most annoying and cumbersome I have aspect of our trip. For a ship with 2000+ passengers, there was only one place distributing towels. A cabin card was required and towels had to be returned or a charge was applied to your cabin bill. I have never experienced such an inconvenience.
While I also understand rewarding loyalty of dedicated and frequent passengers, RCCL seems to do so at the expense of all others. From reserving seats in the theater, to dedicated deck areas, and restricted public lounge areas each evening, I felt as though I was a second class passenger. If the idea is to provide an incentive for passengers to travel more frequently, I am afraid it is a system that will fail. Many of my fellow passengers expressed the same sentiment. While I am sure first time cruisers were impressed with the rock climbing wall and overall cruising experience, it has hard to imagine that anyone with an experience on Holland America, NCL or even Carnival would have rated this cruise better.
One other curious event was the scheduling of a time zone change. We were instructed to move our watcheds back an hour a day early resulting inan hour's difference between ship's time and Grand Cayman local time. Many passenger's missed shore excursions and lost an hour on the Island. When pressed for the reason for doing the time change early, we were told it was because they didn't want us to have to change watches two nights in a row. A confusing reason.
The Entertainment was the one highlight of the trip. Both the ship's performers and professional's were first rate. Show's were well paced and had a great variety. There was something for everyone and the only disappointment was that some shows weren't longer. We had a wonderful cabin Steward and our dining room server and assistant were top notch.
Small old 13" television. Our suitcase didn't fit uner the bed and we only had a shower. No body lotion or bathrobe and the "mini-bar" took up the only surface space we had so we had our cabin attendent move it for the duration of our cruise.
We chose not to participate in a ship sponsored excurion and rented a car so that we could experience parts of the Island less traveled. We were rewarded by an afternoon on a beach where we were the only 2 people enjoying the beautiful blue waters.
For anyone who hasn't been to Cozumel if a few years be prepared to see a very different Island than you saw in the 80's. Commercialization has arrived and many of the once free attractions now have an admission fee. If you want to see ruins, make the trip to Tulum as you will get much more for your dollar. Always a favorite of mine I was delighted to still find a portion of Cozumel that is still unspoiled by hotels and other tourist attractions. There were plenty of places on the Eastern side of the island to enjoy your own piece of private beach. One thing to be aware of is that most places only take cash so make sure you have $$$.