To be fair this cruise departed Ft. Lauderdale when TS Alberto was in the GoM. Many activities and areas were closed Days 1 - 4. It seemed the crew followed that lead. Only on Day 6 - 7 did it become a good cruise but clearly way over crowded.
Our first RCI cruise. Bad luck or the future of mega ship cruising?
So where do I start?
Pools at 4x capacity, spas at 2x capacity. Pools were absolutely filthy after Day 2. No discernable filtering or cleaning of pools and spas. They just block off the pool or spa and recirculate the water for "cleaning". Dirty scum bubbles in spas after Day 1. There was no chlorine smell (free chlorine) from pools or spas after Day 1. What that means is the water is unsanitary, filled with germs and bacteria from guests. I witnessed only one 'drain and fill' cleaning in the Solarium, ergo, they do not have or do not use spa filters. The greasy, scummy bubbles on top of the spa water after Day 2 attest to this.
Greasy Windjammer floors for Day 2-3. Complained to crew member on Day 2. Cleaned only on Day 4.
At sail away the Captain bragged about 6200 pax at start of cruise. Then there's an industry award for fuel efficiency prominently displayed. At one island departure I witnessed an elderly woman clutching her chest being put on a stretcher and hustled into an ambulance and evacuated. It caused a 45 min. departure delay and a crew member screamed at dock crew to hurry up and clear the docking equipment. Gotta maintain that fuel efficiency rating ya know.
Food was bad Days 1 - 4. Who-the-heck puts green and black olives in beef stew? Daughter said Carnival Paradise food was better (!!). She said it had more food for kids. She said most of her food tasted like "cardboard". A kid right, so I checked it. She was right. How do they even do that? How can you make Mac & Cheese tasteless unless the cheese is complete junk? The worst was a chocolate strudel cake which had chocolate syrup on outside and the black cake was not flavored. I joked, what like it's just food coloring to give it a chocolate look? I went and got one to test. She was right again. The cake wasn't even sweetened. Only the chocolate syrup and Oreo crumbs on the outside had flavor. Another piece of decorated cardboard.
The advertised dining times in the Cruise planner were cut short at several venues via posted dining times displayed on a stand outside or on a chalk board. The posted times were always shorter than the Cruise Planner's advertised times. On Day 3 we showed up for dinner to Solarium Bistro at 7pm in dress casual (pants for me, dress for daughter). I could not make reservations due to my daughter being 9 y.o. Restaurant was 2/3rds empty and several groups had young children and grownups with shorts. We were turned away due to no reservation and told to come back an hour later. Tell that to a hungry 9 y.o. After that we just did the Windjammer for dinner. We could find the good dishes and stick with them. Not surprisingly, when we found good dishes or desserts they were usually gone if we returned for seconds..
At the one dinner we did in the Grande MDR my medium rare lamb was rare to raw. I won't eat raw meat so half the lamb went uneaten. Other than that the Grande was ok. Service was average. We skipped dessert and went to the Windjammer from then on.
Breakfast at the MDR was crazy over-crowded. There were no cereal bowls for my daughter's cereal. I had to wait at the cereal station for 10 minutes for a cereal bowl to come out of the dishwasher. The attendants were conciliatory and seemed depressed. You could tell they realized the ship's design set them up to fail with this many passengers. I did not complain as by this point I could see the ship was not engineered to handle this many passengers with any semblance of dignified service.
The only show we were able to attend was Columbus due to booking it 3 months out. 3 weeks out I tried to book other shows (ice skating, aqua theater, etc.) but no reservations were available.
Daughter had to wait until Day 6-7 to do the Flow Rider and Rock wall since both were closed Days 1-3 and the lines on Day 4-5 were way too long (sunburn and dehydration).
I could go on and on and on but I'll just say this ship does not work over I'd say 4,000 pax. It was clearly NOT designed for full capacity. Everything was out of whack and the crew was overwhelmed. I will never book another Oasis class cruise unless it is half empty. And probably not even then. Crew was over worked, and stressed as evidenced by many with bags under their eyes and long faces. I saw crewmembers working multiple venues, even one who had broken her wrist on the cruise. Only the cabin attendants appeared to had efficient routines and did not seem over-worked.
We locked ourselves out of our cabin one time. Another room attendant who did not have a key to our room called our room attendant via radio explaining we needed the room opened. Our room attendant refused. She had to get maintenance crew to let us in.
I called the ship's customer service several times for inquiries but the phone was never answered. Just put on hold. I'd place it on speakerphone and after 10 min.s hangup.
On Day 3 at breakfast time, waiting for the daughter to wakeup I considered ordering room service and having breakfast on our balcony. I Kid-You-Not, no more than 5 minutes later a bunch of water splashes down over the front of our balcony onto the railing, table, foot rests and chairs. Good thing I didn't order room service. Later that day our TV has message that tomorrow the ship will be washed and to avoid the balcony. Well, that went on for 3 days, always starting at breakfast. Couldn't they have picked a better time? Yes, they could have.
All in all this was a very poorly managed ship and cruise. Poor efficiency and bad facilities. Who the Heck designs a pool for a cruise ship with a filtration/cleaning system which can only handle 21 ppl in the pool? We consistently counted over 80 ppl in the pool water. Can you say e-coli, gardia, etc.? I would not allow my daughter in the pools after Day 3 or in the spas after Day 6 and then only the Solarium spas. Days 7-8 we avoided even the Solarium spas after getting briefly ill on Day 6 following being in a Solarium spa evening of Day 5. It took double zinc supplement to send that away. We were the only ppl I saw showering before entering spas and pools. How dumb can ppl be? And how dumb can a cruise line be not to know how dumb their passengers are going to be and account for it?
IMO only the suite customers had a good cruise due most in part to separate, superior facilities, dedicated attendants and block-booking of reservations for their use in restaurants and shows. What does that make regular cruisers? It makes them Steerage Class. Welcome back to the 19th century's style of cruising.
I'm giving RCI one more chance on the Brilliance in October to see if it was a ship thing or just how they run their ships. But seriously, the Carnival Paradise, a 20+ y.o. ship, has better service, a MUCH cleaner pool, friendlier more helpful, more considerate crew and routines. We never had to make reservations to get into shows or restaurants and their up-charging no where near the Harmony's.
No more Oasis class for us unless they're at half-capacity! Poorly designed, poorly executed and poorly managed ship. Inefficiencies and bad routines everywhere I looked. And for what, a Steerage Class cruise at 2.5x the cost of our Carnival Paradise cruises!
Excellent. Large, great A/C, great bathroom. Crew found a way to ruin it tho. Dumped water from above 4 consecutive days onto balcony rail, table, foot rests and chairs at breakfast time. No balcony breakfast or sunup views for us! Cabin attendant refused to assist unlocking our cabin door when we were locked out once. Had to wait for maintenance crew.
Easy access to port. Although it's not posted just follow I-75 to I-575. It ends 1/2 mile before the port entrance. There are side roads on either side with the Cruise Port symbol. Don't take them. Just stay on I-575 (no Cruise Port symbols) until it ends.
Fast embarkation. We were allowed on 2 hr.s early. Probably because of TS Alberto.
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