We picked this cruise for the Itinerary, time of year and our past successful cruises on RC. Unfortunately, this was our third straight cruise on this RC class ship and, perhaps, at no fault of RC, the cruise experience was fairly “just OK”. Everything going on on the ship including the ship layout just got way too familiar and, consequently, boring. So, I’ll try to fashion this review for those who have no to little experience either with RC or crusing.
1. RC provides a very good cruise experience per dollar. They are very competently run and, in my opinion, is as good as any of the mass market (or lower cost) cruises.
2. Service. Very good. No complaints. The cabin attendant was good and most all of the wait staff were also very good. Excursion staff at the desk were ok as well as the front desk. Check in, like pretty much all cruise lines, is smoothly run like clockwork.
3. Ship. The condition of the ship was very good as well. Although the ship is coming on 15 years old, everything looked in excellent or recently refurbished condition. Carpets looked newish and clean and all furniture was also in good condition. The cabin and bathroom were also in very good condition although there was a little rust and corrosion at the shower door.
1. Food. We took most of our meals in the buffet restaurant. So, perhaps it is unfair to say that the food was mediocre. The choice was wide and varied, but on this 11-night Cruise, I found it repetitive, sometimes cold, and meats hard and over cooked due to sitting there for a while. Coffee was often cold or like warm. The desserts were also pretty disappointing. Too many mousse’s which pretty much tasted like whipped sugar. We did go to the sit down restaurant twice and the Izumi specialty restaurant once. The problem I had with the sitdown restaurant is that the portions were really small. I’m no food hog, but four measly shrimp is poor in your “jumbo shrimp” dish is pretty poor. Sure you can ask for seconds, but who wants to come off as a food hog. As for Izumi, we ordered five sushi dishes and four were below mediocre.
2. Onboard shopping. The shop was small, limited merchandise. The jewelry shop was much larger, but the prices were outrageous. Example: my Citizens watch that I bought online last year for about $175 was being sold — same watch — on ship for about $500. Why is onboard shopping an issue? Well, it can get a little boring on a long cruise and a nice diversion is shopping. But, with extremely limited merchandise, it was a bust. Wake up RC, a captive audience and opportunity lost.
3. Onboard live shows. I suppose due to budget and cost, lost are the days of onboard performers and mini Broadway type shows. Rather, the live shows are made up of contract one night stand comedians, singers, etc. They come onboard at one port of call, do their show and get off at the next port. The performers were OK, but it would be nice to see some production type shows. Also, the lounge performers were really bad.
4. Shore excursions. These were fairly limited in selection. I suppose, as a modestly experienced cruiser — 8 cruises — I should know and expect that cruise sightseeing is all about in and out. Get into the port and off the ship by 8 or 9 am and back on board by 4:30 and on to the next port of call. That leaves virtually no time to do any in depth sight seeing. Is RC different or worse than any other cruiseline’s offerings? Likely no. But, new cruisers, be forewarned.
5. Port of call onboard information. This is the first cruise I’ve been on where the ship provided virtually no information on the various ports of call enroute to the destinations. Cruises in the past had the cruise director providing tips on what to see and do and shopping tips. Nothing. I’m not expecting cultural lectures on the history and culture of the destinations, although that would be nice. But a little something about what to expect. Even if it was pre-recorded. All we got was daily babbling about trivia — what minor celebrity had a birthday that day — or some inane joke of the day.
Good condition. A bit larger than the basic balcony cabin. But, not sure if the extra 50 sq. ft. was with another $900. However, you can’t beat the mid-ship location for convenience.
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