We chose this sailing as a (cheap) way to get my family, my parents, and my in-laws all on one boat. It was my parents first time on a cruise ship. We started planning it in October of 2017 and that's when the problems with customer ... Read More
We chose this sailing as a (cheap) way to get my family, my parents, and my in-laws all on one boat. It was my parents first time on a cruise ship. We started planning it in October of 2017 and that's when the problems with customer service started.
My father has a hard time sleeping prone so we had called RC before we booked and asked if there were any options for him. We were told they had no problem, they could remove a bed and give him a recliner to sleep in. We were sold! We purchased the rooms for all 8 of us and continued to plan. A few weeks later we called back to set up the arrangements for him and we were told that in order to have any option for him, they would need to *rent* a chair from a third-party company and upgrade their room to an accessible room (total cost $1300+). We were devastated and hung up. Called back a third time to cancel everyone, and were told he could get a wedge for his bed for free.
Fast forward, we were trying to make sure we were all going to dine together. Because we didn't purchase all three rooms in one go, it wasn't guaranteed, apparently. I had to make 5 different phone calls (and have both sets of parents call twice each) to get varying degrees of answers: "You'll have to do that when you're on the ship", "There's no way because that dining time is full", "You have to do My-Time dining, we can't accomodate groups that large unless you book them together", etc. Finally got those together.
We wanted to do something special for them so I set up First Night Done Right via their online Cruise Planner. It allowed me to add the two other rooms to our reservations but wouldn't let me pay for them. I called RC customer service and was told their reservation would be held until 2 days before the sailing date and they could pay at any time. My mother went to pay for it and it wasn't on her reservation. I guess there's an unwritten rule that you need to pay for it within 24 hours of reserving it or it disappears. By the time we realized this, the only dining times available were after 8 pm (which is way too late for our 5 and 9 year olds).
Embarkation was a breeze, although slightly frustrating that we couldn't help walk my parents (new-comers) through the process since we were ushered into the Gold members area to check in. That led to us being separated and took us a while to find them onboard (having to explain to them why just saying "we're on Deck 16 isn't descriptive enough..). Also, they apparently don't give out paper maps to the ship anymore (besides the one horizontal view on an 8 1/2x11 piece of paper which kind of shows what is generally on each level).
We're finally on the ship. My husband and I had been on the Allure for our honeymoon back in 2011 so we had some comparison of what it would be like for this cruise. The Oasis was doing well, but she's definitely showing her age in some areas. It was clean, for the most part. The nice thing about this ship is there are surprisingly a lot of areas where you can find peace and quiet away from everyone else (Protip: There are a lot of neat little nooks in Central Park, especially during the day when there's no one around).
There seemed to be enough elevators for everyone (unless there was a big event where a lot of people were using them at once) but the thing that got me is that apparently if you pay enough for your room, you can swipe your card at the elevator and not have to stop at any other levels except the one you want to. This makes it a pain in the butt if you're not one of "the elite". They've gone through some extensive remodeling to make sure that "they" don't need to mingle with the rest of us.
They've definitely let the game room slide under their radar of cleaning. We opened up the tiny little cabinet they claimed to store the games in and there were only 5-7 jigsaw puzzles with only half the box and most of the pieces mixed together filling the bottom of the cabinet. We went over to a chess table (where all the pieces are supposed to be stored in a drawer underneath the tabletop), and found no less than 6 white king pieces, Othello pieces, more puzzle pieces, and checkers. There was not a single deck of cards to be found in the room.
We loved our dining staff, although poor Raul seemed way over worked. The poor man had four or five tables with at least 8 people at each. He still showed up with a smile, learned all of our names by the first night, and diligently took care of us. He'd come by with a plate of cookies for our girls every night (which they always loved in the morning). The food was okay, but I've definitely had better on other sailings.
Entertainment & Activities
Over the week, we saw Cats, Frozen in Time, Come Fly with Me, and Oasis of Dreams. We also went ice skating, saw the parades, and spent a lot of time in the pools. Cats was an amazing performance, although I had never seen it before so I didn't know what to expect. Half the audience walked out before intermission because the show in of itself is so abstract. Frozen in Time was phenomenal (although the service staff there lacked, I'll get there in a bit) and probably the best ice show I've seen on my three RC cruises. Come Fly with Me (acrobatics, main theater) and Oasis of Dreams (water show) were abstract as well, but the talent shown in both was absolutely spectacular.
On our honeymoon, we had the chance to experience the Prohibition Event as only the second trial they ran with guests. We loved it so much we had to do it again this time around. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's a night-time (10-12) event that shuts down the jazz club. You get a special pin to wear, and they let you in the side door if you have the password. It's unlimited drinks and small bites the whole time while they're playing jazz music and trying some story-telling with a horse race (the winner gets a free bottle of bubbly). It was a lot of fun this time, but not nearly as much fun as the last time. They used probably half the time we were there to "teach" us a dance, men separately from the women. We never put it together or actually did the dance to any music. It was probably just a ploy to reduce how much we drank, in all honesty. The woman entertainment staff who was teaching us how to dance was using this obnoxious and creepy accent that made me feel like my ears were getting raped.
We brought our five and nine year old daughters with us and my kids absolutely LOVED Adventure Ocean. There were times when we'd give them the option to go to the pool or spend time with us, but all they wanted to do was go back to AO. We met Aladdin (they all have kid-friendly nicknames) on day one and he was probably one of the best crew members we met that week. When we were getting back on board at Cozumel, he made it a point to yell out their names and say hi, which they absolutely adored. My youngest was actually crying after we came home, saying that she was sad she'll never get to see him again.
It seemed like there wasn't nearly as much to do on this sailing as there was on our honeymoon (Allure, 2011) or our other family trip (Independence, 2016). The various bars along the promenade would all try to play their music louder than the one next to it which made walking through the promenade quite unbearable at times.
We didn't even know what the Cruise Director's name was until Day 4. We had seen it on a few pamphlets but apparently that was wrong. We did, however, know the woman who was in charge of selling us things. At least 60% of the activities on board are trying to sell you something. We heard at least one announcement a day about some art auction or diamond sale going on; we heard absolutely nothing about regular free entertainment.
After all the highs, we're back down again. As I mentioned, we saw the ice skating show, Frozen in Time. It was right after dinner so my mom went upstairs to get her and my dad's jackets so they wouldn't be too cold. We had a hard time finding her when she came back. I was waiting outside the studio, looking for her, when I turned to one of the entertainment staff who was scanning peoples cards. I asked her if she'd seen an older woman who look a bit lost, and explained I was looking for my mom who has a hard time with directions (and this was only day 2). We talked for a bit, and I turned around to go back inside. Another woman who was part of the entertainment staff looked at me and said "Ma'am, there are over 6000 guests on this ship. We don't have time to look for your drunk mother. Our shift ends when the doors close and we're not sticking around to help her". I was so shocked that someone would speak to me like that (let alone someone who worked on the ship), I didn't get her name. That was bad experience with staff #1.
Bad experience #2: My husband and I had just sent the girls off to AO for the evening session and were trying to go to karaoke. The planner said it ended at 8:30. We showed up around 8:15, surprised to find the entertainment staff cleaning up the karaoke equipment (apparently because there was some football game people wanted to watch and that was more important). She looked at us, said we're too late. We were fine with that and asked her if she knew of any other fun things to do on the ship. Her reply, "Why don't you go check the Cruise Planner? That's what it's there for."
Bad experience #3: After the previous two issues above, we tried to say something to the help desk about it. Backstory: they station some poor fellow out front by the lines to weed people out before you can talk to someone. There was literally no one in line and two guests at the desk with eight or so crewmembers to help. We approached him and said we'd like to talk to them about the behavior of some of the entertainment staff. We were told we couldn't make any comments about that right now and that we'd have to do so only on our survey that we'll be emailed once we're off the ship. Seriously? You can't spare 10 minutes to talk to a customer about your lousy customer service?
Ports & Shore Excursions
I got off at all three ports, although we didn't do any of the excursions. As I mentioned, we were mostly going on this itinerary to show my parents the boat and have them experience cruising for the first time. The ports were clean, albeit every one of them is just another bid to get you to buy something at a price 10x what it's worth.
The bottom line: Would I go again? I'm honestly so fed up with their lousy customer service, I'm taking an extended break from Royal Caribbean. I've got another cruise planned for this January with Norwegian and a group cruise with friends in 2020 that will also be with Norwegian. Maybe after that, I'll consider it if RC gets their act together.
Disclaimer: I have mentioned all of the above the Royal Caribbean: in my survey and on the phone with a representative. I have heard absolutely no feedback or apology from them. Read Less