My wife and our adult daughter sailed on Adventure of the Seas on July 6 to the Bahamas. This cruise was our birthday gift to our daughter, who had never been on a cruise before. My wife and I have been sailing almost exclusively over the years with Celebrity. We gave our daughter the choice of a Celebrity cruise to Bermuda or a Royal Caribbean cruise to the Bahamas. Both were for one week and both were on older ships. Our daughter chose the Royal Caribbean cruise because of the itinerary. She and my wife shared a balcony cabin.
Some observations, courtesy of my wife:
1. The public restrooms were filthy. There were no attendants to clean them during daylight hours. The bathroom floors on the pool deck were wet, slippery and dangerous.
2. Hand sanitizers which should be ubiquitous on all cruise ships were no where to be found. Sinks at the entrance to the Windjammer buffet restaurant were not used by all passengers. My wife had to actually ask for hand sanitizers and she was told on one occasion that none were available.
3. Overheated passengers returning to the ship from shore were not offered cold face towels or cold drinks to refresh themselves, and of course, no hand sanitizers were on display. Clearly, cleanliness was not a priority on this ship.
4. My wife described the vaunted on-board entertainment, allegedly a Royal Caribbean strength, as nothing special.
5. On a number of occasions the staff was slow clearing dirty plates from tables in the always crowded Windjammer buffet restaurant.
6. Even though disembarking at the port of Coco Cay (Royal Caribbean’s private island) is a ritual the ship performs on a weekly basis, you would think the crew would have learned how and known better. Thousands of impatient passengers were trapped in small, narrow, overheated, confining exit ways for 90 brutal minutes before being allowed off the ship. There were no water fountains at hand. Not surprisingly, under these extremely uncomfortable conditions the mob of passengers became unruly. My wife said she’s seen better organized riots.
7. My wife noted the door frames in their cabin shower were rusty. Same with the floor surface on the balcony. Curiously, these features did not appear in the Royal Caribbean cruise brochure.
8. Although she was Diamond class by virtue of her past cruises on Celebrity, my wife had to actually ask for basics like a shower cap and lotions and a robe. The cabin had no carafe of ice water.
9. Having purchased a soda package, my wife had to continually ask for straws, which the crew were stingy to hand out allegedly due to environmental concerns — but they were ever present on more expensive alcoholic beverages.
10. To be sure, and in fairness to Royal Caribbean, there were parts of the cruise my wife did enjoy. Contrary to her low expectations, my wife said the food was decent, though selections on the MDR menu were limited. She said her cabin attendant and MDR server were very good. But maybe because we booked this cruise late, the fare was no bargain compared to what we pay on Celebrity (where we normally book early) — and yet she received a lot less for our money. For years we’ve heard Celebrity described as an upscale version of Royal Caribbean (they are both owned by the same parent company), but until my wife’s upsetting experiences on this cruise we were unable to appreciate what upscale really means.