I comment on this cruise knowing that my thoughts are comparable with many other travellers on this trip.
We booked this through cruise1st which also included a pre cruise land tour of Xian and China. The tour proved to be extremely tiring as it was non stop for five days so a poor embarkation was the last thing we wanted. The process was anything but enjoyable due to the massive queues and poor organisation. We produced all the required documents at the counter only to be told we needed 2 A4 copies of our passports. My fault as I had only one and they would not accept an A5 copy that I had. I didn’t understand either why we needed this as they already had been sent passport copies. This problem must have been foreseen as there were 2 copiers provided for the purpose of printing copies. So along with countless others who had no copies I joined the extremely long queue to collect another copy. This frustrating task was made even worst with people jumping the line, especially one very very rude German lady who refused to go to the back of the queue. I had quite a serious argument with her and imagine my horror when we were seated with her on our first nights dining and another subsequent 4 nights. The problem with the extra copies could have been easily avoided by having a simple printer at the check in desks. I know it could be avoided also if people read their documents carefully.
Once onboard our cabin was ready had to wait for our luggage but no problem in that. We met our cabin attendant "Rolly" who was very pleasant and polite and kept our cabin in good order throughout the cruise. Our balcony cabin was up to RCs usual high standards very clean and tidy and plenty of storage space. I was pleased with options for plugs and the 2 USB charging points. All the service staff we came into contact with were extremely friendly and polite.
The ship is well laid out with many dining, drinking options etc. One thing I did not like was the main promenade constantly filled with stalls selling overpriced bags, watches, perfumes, t-shirts etc. We were on Any Time dining which we prefer as we get to meet different people from other countries. exceptions of course with rude ladies from Germany. Always good options on the menu though some meals I had weren't too good but that was just down to me. Service was in the main very good but a few nights it was rather slow and we sometimes missed the start of the shows.
The Windjammer was always packed and difficult to find a seat and very often the food was not hot. The Bistro is smaller and busy but not long to wait for a table. Less choice on the food but it was always of a good standard and hot.
All the bars were busy but we never had to wait long to be served and the staff were always very pleasant. Some people thought the price of drinks was a bit expensive but I would put them no more expensive than a decent pub/ bar / restaurant back home. The robotic bar was a disappointment as when it mixed the drinks there was a bartender on hand to take the drinks in the back to finish off the process. I only watched and never tried after that.
We didn’t do any ships tours as they are overpriced, too regimented and too restrictive. All the tours we did were organised privately in small groups and by far more fun and informative.
The entertainment was a mixture of the good the bad and the ugly. Pixels which after superb reviews I had been looking forward to was not for me. Excellent production but just not my taste. There was an excellent band (whose name I have forgotten) that consisted of three females and a guy on the keyboard. They always had the crowd up and rocking and some of the ballads were up there with the best. We also had and INXS tribute band who were just superb. You wont find a better frontman and the lead guitarist is sensational, one of the best I have ever witnessed. The other guitarist wore a red leather suit and considering he wore it for 2 nights and he was very energetic I would not like to be the one peeling him out of that. An excellent show.
The "Live Love Legs" show by RCs group was very good and RCs resident backing band / orchestra also very good but the headliner acts left a lot to be desired. The comedian was absolutely dismal.
Now considering this to be an adult cruise and there were very few children onboard why did we have at the 9.30 show a guy doing tricks by blowing up and shaping balloons to distribute to a few kiddies in the audience. Another night we had a guy telling us the history of how he came to be a “yo-yo professional”. Apparently his father taught introduced him to this plaything. Questions need to be asked of the person who deemed it fit for this type of “performer” be employed to entertain adults who are on vacation.
The North Star was an experience to try but not so exciting when at sea. Try to book your slot for a time in port maybe when leaving the port. I fly was very good, trainers superb at their job but time in the capsule was too short. Didn’t try the roller skating but the dodgems were good but then again only about 2 minutes in the car.
We now come to guest services and never have I seen queues so long so often. For whatever reason people have to be there it was annoying to see half the desks empty with officers standing round chatting and another wiping down the desks. But the biggest annoyance for me was the misinformation I received, along with others, from members of guest services. When I researched the port of Naha on cruise critic I found that the ship was not docking at the cruise terminal but at the container terminal. My plan of walking to the tram station had to be changed due to the container terminal being too far out, but information on CC told me that taxis would be available. I asked 3 guest service personnel about the availability of taxis in the port. “ told me that they would be very limited and those few would be in great demand. The third person told me and I quote “ there will definitely be no taxis available and no-one would be allowed to leave the port unless they were on a scheduled RC tour bus or on the RC shuttle bus into the city centre. Based on this we along with many others booked the shuttle at $20 for a 12 minute ride into town (google maps). The cost was non refundable if not used. That very same night after the show ended the entertainment manager informed the audience that taxis would be available and the walk in to town was quite easy. The following morning there was an extremely long line of taxis and several people walking (4.7 kms, I hour ). Poor training, lack of knowledge, scare tactics to make people use the shuttle, bare faced lies take your pick.
On one visit to guest services I enquired about a charge of $2 on our bill. I was told it was a bar bill. When I told the lady we had a drinks package she told me we were only allowed drinks up to $12. I questioned this but she then again told me $12 was the limit. So I accepted this but when I enquired at the next bar we visited the bartender told me $14 was the limit and that is how it turned out. Lies misinformation, poor training. Take your pick.
Last day and disembarkation was a bit of a disaster and organized chaos. I say this with misgivings as the cause was tragic. During the night the ship had to turn back due to a medical emergency and unfortunately the poor person died. So our little problems fade into insignificance.
None the less problems were caused for people who early flights etc. as we were 5 hours late getting into Singapore. Another cruise ship docking at the same time didn’t help matters. We were informed that the easiest and quickest way to disembark would be to carry off our own luggage. We were told that taxis would be scarce and along with the other cruise ship in dock the few taxis available would be in great demand. Shuttles would be available into the city for the bargain price of $29. Due to our experience in Naha we ignored this advice and along with 2 friends who agreed to keep our luggage in their hotel until our flight later that night we decided to take a taxi. We waited maybe 5 – 10 minutes for a $25 ride into the city.
The actual disembarkation was chaotic. The point for getting off the ship was absolutely jam packed solid with people lugging their suitcases etc. some people with children, some older people and some people with wheel chairs. There should have been segregation for people with disabilities etc and also a dedicated point for people who had flights to catch. Instead it was just one mad crowd. We had one lady from guest services trying to do an impossible job of extricating these people from the crowds. While most people were understanding those at the front of the queue did not know what was happening so rows broke out with accusations of queue jumping and favouritism and insults thrown at the lone officer trying to keep people calm.
Overall the cruise was excellent mainly due to the itinerary and the people we shared it with. Cabin staff, bar staff, serving staff etc were excellent. Guest services absolutely hopeless. For me the ship was too big and didn’t offer the same level of service and atmosphere of the smaller ships. Royal Caribbean is probably our favourite cruise operator but this one failed to live up to the very high standard we have had on our previous cruises with them.
As always spotless and kept that way by our cabin attendant. Plenty of storage and power points. Shower room a bit small but no problem with that.
wonderfull tour but with a pathetic guideView All undefined undefined Reviews
Lousy weather but a superb guide who had a plan B to challenge the weather. Brilliant tourView All undefined undefined Reviews
Took the cable car ride which was superb. took in the Tian Tan Buddha. Well worth itView All undefined undefined Reviews
An independent tour with "Tour with Xuan" Absolutely brilliant guide one of the best I have ever been with. Very polite, knowledgeable and a very interesting tour
Only had a few hours before our flight home. Visited The gardens by the Bay, loved it but unfortunately not enough time.
Brilliant.Very exciting interesting city. Again Xuan our guide was superbView All undefined undefined Reviews