I've taken cruises before, but I've never experienced anything like this. I'm not sure if Royal Caribbean has just gone to total crap, or it was this one ship. But to sum it up, I would need to be drugged and forcefully taken back in order to sail with them again.
I'll start from the beginning. Boarding the ship was uneventful, and they got us through pretty quickly and handled our bags with no issue. They of course had a "photo moment" where you could pose with your family with a printed ship background in the back before boarding (which I can't stand to pay for a horrible posed picture, but if that's your thing, that's cool). They let us skip by it with no issue.
It was lunchtime when we boarded the ship, so we went to the Windjammer (their buffet) which was open for lunch. The food was pretty horrible. It was on par with school cafeteria food. We ate a light lunch and decided to save room for a big dinner.
The ship itself was very outdated. It definitely needed some love. It appeared the last update the ship got was around 1995 (not sure if that's accurate, but it certainly looked that way).
We got a drink package, and included was a branded insulated cup that had an RFID chip in the bottom so you could get your own unlimited refills from the Coke Freestyle machine. We were pretty excited about this before getting on the boat, to find there were only 2 on the ship, both in the same location (so depending on where you were, it could be a little trek to get a drink), and they were out of about half of the sodas inside for the whole trip, (they never refilled them). So they were somewhat useless, but you could use them to get sodas at the bar (but then again, I could have gotten that in a regular glass there without having to carry around this large cup everywhere). We were disappointed.
We had a regular exterior room, nothing fancy. I've cruised before, so it didn't surprise me when the room was pretty cramped and the bathroom was so small you could shower, use the restroom and brush your teeth all by being in the same place. The one thing that I wasn't expecting, is the horrible bed and pillows in the room. The bed reminded me of sleeping on a thin egg crate put on top of a piece of plywood. (definitely don't try to jump when you lay down, you'll hurt something). Super extreme firm mattress aside, it would have been somewhat bearable if the pillows weren't so flat it was like the weren't there at all. There was absolutely no support for my neck, and anytime I tried to shift in the middle of the night, I'd wake up because my elbow slammed against the hard board (mattress?) and I would wake up. It was the worst sleep of my life. After the first night, we asked our cabin steward for more pillows, and we stacked 4 together and did the best we could. One night we took a break and went and slept on the lounge chairs on the deck for a little while, which was honestly heaven compared to our bed.
The last time I cruised, wifi wasn't available for signup for mobile devices, so we were also excited about having this feature on the trip. My husband signed up for his device ($30 a day) and was excited to catch up on reddit in the times we went back to the room. Well, that would have been great, if the internet was ever working. Out of the 5 times my husband tried connecting the second day, he connected successfully once, and it was very very slow. Not what you'd expect for $30 a day. Be warned, don't try to go to guest relations to ask about the connection. We went to the front desk, mentioned we were having problems with the connection (and didn't even get a chance to ask if we could cancel/get a refund), before the man helping us gets a phone call, picks it up, and then begins helping another guest in front of us mid sentence. I'm a little embarrassed to say we stood there for a solid 4 minutes while he was on the phone thinking he'd be done soon, before we got frustrated and left.
To get back to the food, on the first day (after the pretty awful Windjammer experience) we were very excited to have the formal seated dinner. We got there right on time, and our waiter was very friendly, super helpful and offered a lot of recommendations on the menu. We went to the formal dinner twice, and below is a brief review of what we ordered and what we thought of it:
-Escargot: Cooked well. The escargot was tender, although it was a little on the greasy side.
-Grilled Scallops with Chorizo: The smallest scallops I've seen in a restaurant, and they were very overcooked. I wouldn't place what they called chorizo as chorizo, it didn't have the typical spices chorizo uses, tasted more like extra crispy bacon.
-(paid extra)Grilled Lobster: OVERCOOKED. Which is a shame, because I love lobster. The claw meat (since it's thicker) wasn't as badly overcooked as the tail (which they cut in half before they grilled it, it didn't stand a chance), but it also wasn't seasoned at all.
-Fried fish with Fries: Cooked ok, but very very greasy (breading was sliding off the fish). The batter was also not seasoned at all (not sure if Royal Caribbean has heard of salt or pepper).
-Cheese platter: It was ok. It was at the level of Delta airline's cheese platter. Very mild cheeses, nothing spectacular or memorable.
-Cheesecake with Raspberries: This was passable, but was the same as the store brand frozen cheesecake you get at the supermarket.
-Lobster Bisque: This was pretty awful. Bisque apparently means "chowder" to some people. Extremely thick, texture was off-putting. The flavor was mild, and I could barely find any lobster in it.
-Shrimp Ravioli: This was basically frozen ravioli with the smallest of baby shrimp on it. It was edible, which for this cruise means I was happy to find something edible. The quality was pretty poor, and I only got 5 ravioli anyway.
-Ribeye: My husband asked for medium rare, ended up with medium. They also (AGAIN) didn't season the steak before they grilled it, so it was very bland.
-Lemon Meringue Pie: This was ok, it had a lot of fluffy meringue on top. The only critique I could give is that the lemon flavor wasn't very tart/strong, but compared to the rest of the food, this was one of the best items.
On the third night we went to their small Mexican restaurant on board (the casino host gave us a free meal, which was really nice). This is a meal you'd normally have to pay an additional $20 each, so we thought it would be better than our experience in the dining room. Honestly, at the bottom of the menu should be an APOLOGY to the people of Mexico for butchering what is normally great food. The meal was a standard 4 course (starter, appetizer, entree, dessert). We got guacamole and chips as the starter, which was basically Tostitos chips (seriously, these were obviously bagged), and what I think was Wholly Guacamole that I buy at the grocery store. Again, not what I'd expect from a restaurant, more what I'd eat on the couch at home, but at that point on day 3, passable. We then chose our appetizer to be chorizo nachos (sounds great, right? WRONG AGAIN). It took 10 minutes to get the "nachos", which were, the most OFFENSIVE thing to be called nachos. It included: the same tostitos chips, very large chunks of lettuce and tomato (like it came from a burger joint and roughly chopped), strange chorizo AGAIN (I think I could eat my weight in chorizo, I eat it often, and many varieties (Spanish, Mexican, etc), I have absolutely no idea what they're trying to pass as chorizo except very crispy (like hard to chew) bacon substitute tasting nastiness), and lets not forget, to top it all off, COLD NACHO CHEESE. I had several questions. 1. How did this take 10 minutes to make, 2. Did you knowingly put cold cheese on room temperature chips and expect it to work out???? We walked out, handed the waiter our voucher for the meal and didn't want to put our taste buds through the rest.
We ended up walking next door to the Johnny Rocket's on the ship (because really, how hard is it to mess up a burger and fries? Just wait, you'll find out!) You have to pay $7 per person to eat there, but once you're inside it's all you can eat unless you want a shake or a beer. The service at the Johnny Rockets was the worst on the ship. We stood at the hostess stand for 5 minutes before giving up and seating ourselves. Our waitress came a few minutes later with menus. She seemed like a nice person, very friendly, but just a BAD waitress. Rarely checked on the table and had difficulty taking the order. We ordered fries, onion rings and two burgers with sodas. I (tried) to order my burger medium (because in my opinion it just tastes better), and there was a lot of confusion: ("I'd like the original burger, cooked medium" "you want meat?" "Yes, I'd like the meat cooked medium" "Do you want any of the toppings on it, or just meat?") She couldn't figure out that I was trying to ask for a cooking temperature.... which should have been a sign. Finally she got it and said that they only cook burgers well done, which I thought maybe due to ship food safety or something. The drinks take a few minutes, and the slowly the rest of the food comes out. I took one bite of the burger and that was it for me, it was so badly overcooked (and stewed?) it reminded me of some sort of horrible catered meal where the burger was sitting in a tray for a few hours before you got to eat it. The fries and onion rings were cooked well, and that was basically dinner for us.
To sum up the food: it was HORRIBLE. It wasn't cooked well, and the quality was the worst I've had in very very long time. Everything on there was a heat and serve sort of quality, and NOT what'd expect for how much you pay to cruise, when the food is usually what cruises are known for. I consider myself a foodie, and love anything from a hole in the wall small dive to fancy restaurants. It was the most torturous thing to be trapped on that boat with total crap to eat. The best meal we had on the entire cruise was the meal we had at the Hard Rock in Nassau, because it was exactly what we expected it to be. I was concerned about gaining weight on the trip, and even with the added alcohol consumption, I lost 5 pounds. So if you're trying to lose weight while cruising, this might be the cruise for you.
We had two stops on the trip, Nassau and Royal Caribbean's island Coco Cay. We had one excursion at Coco Cay, to swim with stingrays. It was well organized, and we took a little boat ride to the habitat where all of the stingrays were held. The guys running the excursion were very nice, and you got to feed the stingrays as well as hold one while they took a picture (which you could purchase afterwards if you wanted). The water was beautiful and clear, and it was a really great experience. They provided snorkel gear, so you could check out all of the wildlife in the habitat if you wanted. The water was a bit cold (we did go in Feb), but you got used to it after a minute or two. I would definitely recommend this excursion to anyone (would be great for kids and adults alike).
The second stop was at Nassau, which was fine. It was beautiful and we found this really cute ice cream shop (also a very good snack compared to anything on the ship) where we got to go on the second floor and eat ice cream on a balcony overlooking the street. We were hounded by cab drivers, etc on the street, but I think that's pretty standard for any cruise port. We walked into a few jewelry stores on the island, and I have a few things to warn people about:
**First, I cruised a lot with my parents as a kid, and we used to go into a lot of jewelry stores where my parents would get a bargain. I did see some beautiful examples of tanzanite that (may, I didn't investigate the legitimacy of these) be a good bargain just based on quality compared to what I've seen. However, most of the inventory of these stores fell into two categories: 1. Natural colorless/near colorless diamonds at prices you can find (right now) online. 2. Treated stones that had very little value that were misrepresented to make it feel like you were getting a deal. These stones in the US (or online) are being sold for about the same price, you are no longer getting any deals in this part of the world. More about this in a minute.
For the activities on the ship, there weren't very many. We like to gamble, so we were disappointed when the casino didn't open until 5:30 each night. We spent most of our time in the bars having cocktails and talking because that was about all there was to do. The activities started around 6pm, which was when our dinner seating was, so a lot of things we couldn't go to. Anything earlier than that was basically a plug for shopping (like discounts on this, learn about gemstone, yada yada) to push you to either spend money on the ship or in the port. We did go to the comedy/juggling show one night, which wasn't really that funny? His juggling was good, but there was a lot of long breaks in the comedy routine which killed his momentum. We also tried out the rock climbing wall, which was open for a total of 4 hours while we sailed, but it was fun, just a little crowded. It would be better if they opened it up more, so folks can go twice/space out their visits.
Back to the gemstone issue. While we were on the ship, we went into the jewelry store and I saw a lovely sapphire ring. It was translucent, and appeared to be high quality. It was a three stone ring, total sapphire weight of 2.8 carats, with diamonds around the sapphires totaling .4 carats, set in 14k white gold. I am somewhat familiar with sapphires, and I thought this ring would cost around $4,000-$5,000 at my local jeweler. To my surprise, he told me it was on sale and that the price was $1,400. It was a very good price, so I followed up with, "are these real sapphires?", to which he replied yes. We bought the ring, and the next day we picked up a "certificate of authenticity" which stated the ring was a blue sapphire ring with diamond halo in 14k white gold. Matches exactly what the sales guy told me.
When we got back home, I took the ring to my local jeweler to have it resized and appraised for insurance. He puts the ring under his microscope and tells me that something doesn't look right with the ring, that it's "too perfect" for the price I paid. He tells me his cost for the materials if everything was as I thought, would be around $3,000 and he doesn't know how my cost would be less than half of that. He refers me to a gemologist that specializes in identifying stones. After meeting with him, the mystery is solved. The sapphires ARE natural, but they had been diffused (this is a treatment where they take white sapphires which are less valuable and "bake" in the color). Blue diffused sapphires are DRAMATICALLY cheaper than equal appearance natural blue sapphires. This is why the price was so much lower, it was treated and sold as an untreated stone. (This is a HUGE violation of the Federal Trade Commission, which states treatments must be disclosed clearly to customers when they alter the value of the stone if the treatment is known. This ring was a branded ring, which they bought and then sold directly from the manufacturer (who is based in the US), so they knew of the treatment). Not only was I not informed by the salesmen, it was not on the papers I received as well. Now, the ship was traveling in international waters, on a ship registered in the Bahamas, owned by a company in the US.... so I'm unsure if FTC guidelines would apply on the ship, and they certainly don't apply on any of the islands. So this is VERY shady and unethical to not disclose such a thing, but without a microscope, you wouldn't be able to tell. Although my ring appraised for $1500 (so I paid what it was worth), it would be very possible on an island for them to mark it up higher, and you may still think you're getting a deal, when you'll end up losing money on your purchase (which you won't know until you get back home, and then good luck returning it and getting a refund). After talking to the gemologist, he explained that the internet has made the world very small, and the one benefit of buying on the islands is the lack of sales tax (no gems are mined or cut there, so they're all imported just as they are here in the US), but buying offline usually carries no sales tax, and lessens your risk of being scammed (at least you can easily return if it's not what you expected). I'd highly recommend to anyone considering a cruise for the sole purpose of jewelry shopping to NOT DO IT. Save money, stay at home and buy offline, and get everything checked out by a jeweler you trust.
So, to wrap up this lengthy review:
- The food was the worst/inedible
- Activities were limited
- The staterooms/sleeping situation was very uncomfortable
- Service was very good
- The stingray excursion was very enjoyable
- Jewelry sales was very shady/unethical
I hope this helps if you're considering Majesty of the Seas for your next vacation. Your money would be better spent put in the middle of the table then lit on fire. Seriously, do anything else. Read Less