We were part of a group tour from Australia traveling from Shanghai China to Japan for one week, then back to Shanghai. The cruise was marketed as a Western Cruise. Approx 800 Aussies were on board with others from UK, USA etc but still mostly Chinese passengers.
Having mostly sailed with RCI and having spent 30 nights previously on the Ovation of the Seas I was expecting the ship and cruise to be similar to what we have experienced previously. The ship is mostly the same but has a few different layouts. I can't say that these differences are for the better.
The Solarium: I love this part of the ship. Unfortunately on the Spectrum this entire area is now only for "upper class" passengers. Only those few that have suites are allowed entry. Reminds me of the Titanic with areas below deck for the lower classes.
Windjammer: What a nightmare! Only visited twice due to the noise levels, the crowds, the food choices, the pushing and shoving by other passengers.
Sorentos Pizza: This now adjoins the Windjammer. Only has 2 tables inside. There is an area outside that is meant for Sorentos but impossible to find a seat as the Windjammer customers take them all including the two tables inside.
The Patisserie: Used to be a favorite but with only four cakes (all the sames except for the colour) available, a bit pointless.
The Dining Room: Meal times were 5pm and 7pm. We were booked as a group of 30 for 7pm. First night we were shown our tables off to the side. Second night we tried to go to our tables but were told that we all need to be present to be shown to tables that could be anywhere in the restaurant. Not what we were expecting. We had to plead with the staff to be all seated together in the same area.
The meal service was very slow. Took two hours usually to get our three courses. We were never offered tea or coffee. Very difficult to get a drink. Food was usually only warm. The food was Ok but not as good as previous cruises.
The shows: We booked for Silk Road. Had to queue at one of the bars at a certain time to book. The RCI App was useless, couldn't use it to book anything. Despite being the first passengers to arrive the first couple of shows were booked out. Show times didn't fit with the Dining Room time slots. Shows were at 6.30pm and 8.30pm. The show went for 45 minutes but you have to arrive 15 minutes early to get a seat. So we missed desert despite asking for quick service of our meal due to attending the show.
We enjoyed the show except for the inconsiderate people who just don't understand the instruction "NO FLASHES". RCI should have staff available to kick the inconsiderate people out. Not only is it so off putting for the performers to stare into a bright light but due to the shape of The 270, other audiences members also have the lights shining in their eyes. You also have the passengers who feel the need to text and play with their phones throughout the performance.
North Star & I Fly: We didn't use these as RCI have a fee on most activities on their cruises in the Asian market. Have previously enjoyed both on the Ovation for free.
Why is the volume of the music turned up to head ache inducing levels every time an activity is on or a staff "performance" is on? The music band by the pool is also played at a really loud level. It's very hard to find a quiet spot on the ship to actually relax. There are no quiet areas indoors to relax and talk.
Once again we were charged our onboard account in $A despite completing the onboard check-in details with a $US request. The difference in the RCI exchange rate to what our bank offers is huge. Every cruise we have taken they have disregarded our request.
Definitely the worst cruise I have been on. I would never take another cruise in the Asian region despite enjoying the Ports we visited. The ship part of our holiday didn't come close to previous experiences.
Great cabin. Bed was very firm.
I enjoyed Shanghai. Very clean and well presented.
Short stay in port. Free bus transfer to the centre of town. Lovely afternoon shopping.
Visited Kyoto for the day on a private tour.
Lots of shopping on a private tour.