We found this cruise to be well below standard unfortunately. We were expecting things to be a little different to other cruises due to most guests being from Asia and we were right, it was different. Even the Australian Cruise Director openly said that things were different on this cruise. But, despite the differences, the management team could have organised things much better to help. It felt almost as though the management and staff had given up on it all. There was already a bit of pre cruise tarnish in that the itinerary had been changed and the lack of shore excursions available was really poor. Here’s a list of the problems we experienced on board for any one who is interested. I’m not sure how much of it was entirely Royal Caribbean’s fault but at the end of day it’s them who we paid for a good experience after booking direct with them.
(For demographics - as I know when I look at these reviews it’s helpful to know how old the reviewers are, if they have children etc - I’m 26 and was travelling with my wife who is 23. No children and our first time with Riyal Caribbean. Have cruised twice before, both with NCL, both brilliant experiences.)
1) Embarkation. Too long and incredibly disorganised. After queuing for hours to check in, despite pre checking in online and providing all information including photos and card details, we just had to do it all again. Staff member checking us in couldn’t understand us enough to answer our questions. No one advised whilst booking or checking in that our passports would be retained by staff and that we’d need a copy.
2) Obtaing copies of passports whilst on board. After realising we would need a copy we spent a day trying to call guest services as the queues were long. No answer. In the end we queue up around midnight as there was a shorter queue. Halfway through queuing 3 of the 4 staff left so just 1 person serving. Despite on being around 10 people when joining the queue it took over an hour to be served. When served I was told they didn’t know for sure what they could do. The man serving me said he’d put a request in and I should try to come back tomorrow evening for them to be printed. Couldn’t confirm would be done, couldn’t get anyone else for me to speak to, couldn’t have them delivered to cabin.
3) We has the soda package. Accross the ship there were 5 freestyle machines I could find. 1 was constantly our of service and the other 4 constantly empty. Throughout the entire cruise we got half a cup of plain coke from one. That was it. The bars served us coke when we asked but it did mean it was less convinient than it should have been and that we were limited to coke.
4) Shore ex wrote to our cabin on the Saturday, day before day 1 of Okinawa to say your excursion time has changed to 9.30 (was originally 8.30). This was booked for the Monday, day 2 in Okinawa as we had our own plans booked for the Sunday. Got back Sunday night and got the shore ex tickets out to check meeting location only to find they say 9.30 Sunday. So Shorex had changed both time and date. Checked letter again, letter did say the Sunday date next to the time BUT, did not say ‘Sunday’ nor did it say the ‘date’ had changed. Just the time. I’m on holiday Royal Caribbean I don’t know the date! Be clearer! So we missed it and only found out when it was too late to plan something else. So ended up with another hour at guest services and stayed on the ship on Monday.
5) Over inflated prices all over the ship.
6) Very poor selections in free dining. Picture menus poor.
7) Buffet awful to be in and usually we actually really enjoy buffets because of how convinient they are.
8) Sprentos pizza place only place for food outside meal times and felt like eating at a children’s restaurant. Nothing like the online description for the place.
9) Menus on the tv in cabin and online pre cruise completely different to restaurant menus. For example Amber and Oak food.
10) Staff generally didn’t know what was going on. Directed to buffet for food got there to find it closed. So many staff assured me freestyle machines would be topped up, never topped up. Events happening in venues which were not compass, asked staff what they were and they couldn’t say.
11) The pushing in, spitting, rudeness and lack of hand washing generally was unpleasant.
However, we found the ship itself to be very nice, our balcony cabin was great. Pixels was good. Enjoyed Jamie’s Italian one night. It was also nice to be able to get a seat when and where you wanted and use the pools / hot tubs with no problem.
Wouldn’t sail in Asia again. Would also be reluctant to use Royal Caribbean again. We already have another pre booked for November but this is from Florida and on Oasis so I’m sure it will be a step up.
We really liked the cabin. Out of this and the two NCL ships we have been on (NCL Breakaway and NCL Epic) this was the best by far. Very well designed and heaps of space.
Worth noting Beijing itself is actually very far from Tianjin, where the actual port is located. They are separate cities.
Free shuttles were provided to and from port and main shopping street in town. We had our own plans for the whole day, Sunday. We prebooked a taxi for the day, worked out about £130 through a company called Cool Okinawa Travel. Driver didn’t speak English but did have our pre printed itinerary and the company offered a translation service if required if you called them. We used our driver and car to visit Cape Manzamo, Ocean Expo Park and loads of places contained within such as Aquarium and Emerald Beach. Then the main shopping street in Naha.