As our first RCCL cruise in 2010 on Freedom of the Seas was glorious fun, we booked a second one, with every intention of booking a third while onboard. It was such a major disappointment, however- and so upsetting, due to unbelievably bad customer service, that it repeatedly left me in tears- that we sent a 9-page letter(!) to the CEO, Adam Goldstein, to which we received an insulting and abysmal response.
We are in the hospitality business, with an historic Inn in WV, so we know a bit about what it takes to create an excellent customer service experience; our week on the Freedom of the Seas in 2010 was wonderful thanks to truly exceptional customer service at all levels. As this cruise coincided with our 6th wedding anniversary, I added a $142.00 "Anniversary Package" as a surprise for my husband; it was a surprise, all right, but not a good one. RCCL totally messed it up, leaving me in tears, and Guest Relations was snarky and nasty about it, as they were during this entire cruise. Over the course of the week we received numerous, long-winded messages on our stateroom phone from a variety of "Guest Services" personnel, each one insisting that we were wrong and they were right, and that RCCL was in no way responsible for anything. Finally, and way too late for it to have any meaning, we were grudgingly offered a dinner at Portofino- food only(!)- at which the waitress, who we have to assume meant well, told me "I can see that you were beautiful when you were young". As I was 51 at the time and not exactly an ancient crone, I was so stunned by her comment that I sat there with a stupid smile on my face as tears filled my eyes. I said nothing, but my husband looked at her and said "She's still beautiful". This was my grand, romantic anniversary cruise dinner. I can't recall what we ate...
RCCL didn't bother to invite us to the "Welcome Back" cocktail party for Crown & Anchor Society Members, and the response by Ms. Guest Relations to our query as to why was to simply shrug her shoulders at me. When I told Guest Relations that after our wonderful experience last year we were sadly disappointed this year, she cut me off mid-sentence, sarcastically saying, with a smirk, in front of other guests: "Then you won't take another cruise, right"? Stunned by her nastiness, I said, "No, we'll just cruise with another company".
Our second excursion, tubing and ziplining in Belize, would have been grand, except that the ziplining portion was so overcrowded that we not only spent most of our time waiting on line, but the sour-faced, overtaxed ziplining staff literally pushed us off the platforms before the previous zipper had arrived at the next platform! Amazingly and fortunately, no one was hurt, but several came close to being hurt, including my husband, and frankly, that's nuts. And all because it was overcrowded and rushed. The tubing portion was fun, although quite tame, with eveyone herded like sheep. I would do it again, but not thru the cruise line; I'd want a private tour that guaranteed no crazy crowds.
Our final excursion, also booked through RCCL, to go snorkeling and to Stingray City in Grand Cayman was an RCCL-caused fiasco from the beginning, owing to an hour-plus delay by the tenders, as the first one had left the ship half-filled, leaving us sitting in a half-filled tender for an hour. When we finally got to the pier we were ordered by the tour personnel to “run after the man in the yellow hat” as our tour was leaving without us! Our group did just that, only to be told to run back to the man who’d told us to run in the first place. Then we were herded onto a bus that didn’t have enough seating for everyone in our group, and were ordered to “move over and make room” for a family of 5 people, which was impossible. Some of our group were then put onto another bus, and by the time we got on the road for our 10am departure tour, it was after 12 noon. Due to RCCL’s mismanagement, our snorkeling wound up being 15 ghastly minutes in water so stupefyingly overcrowded with tourists that all we did was bump into other snorkelers. Unlike on other such snorkeling excursions, we had no guide, no food to help draw in the fish, no nothing. I saw literally nothing, and spent my 15 minutes constantly bumping into other snorkelers, for a truly miserable experience. Having looked forward to snorkeling in Grand Cayman for two years we were deeply disappointed. The boat was filled to capacity with VERY sour-faced cruisers- not one smile among any of them. We were then taken to Stingray City, which wound up being the highlight of our trip, and it was extremely enjoyable, marred only by being ridiculously overcrowded, with people constantly bumping into each other. We paid $30 for the CD of photos taken of us with the stingrays, and when we got back to the ship we met other cruisers who had been on another RCCL Stingray City excursion and had been asked for $50 for the CD and thus didn’t buy it; they were quite upset. This is absolutely unacceptable.