We had three reasons for booking this cruise as soon as it became available. First, it was to be a long-awaited reunion cruise for some of us who had sailed on the Liberty TA in April, 2012. Second, we had always wanted to go to Vigo since ... Read More
We had three reasons for booking this cruise as soon as it became available. First, it was to be a long-awaited reunion cruise for some of us who had sailed on the Liberty TA in April, 2012. Second, we had always wanted to go to Vigo since my husband’s grandparents came from that part of Spain and it would be a historical and emotional visit or us. Third, we love the Oasis, having sailed on her once before, and also twice on Allure. We are very familiar with these big ships, and have experienced their WOW factor in the past.
There were many problems with this cruise, some of them extremely serious, as you will see from my review.
I believe that there were many things which contributed to the problems. First, this was apparently set up and treated by RCCL as a B2B with the first cruise being Rotterdam to Southampton, and the second cruise being Southampton to Ft. Lauderdale with a port stop in Vigo, Spain. However, it was not sold to us like that. My first hint that something was wrong was when, months before the cruise, I attempted to book a table for ten for our small reunion group. Six of us were boarding in Rotterdam, and four in Southampton. RCCL was never able to set this up until, suddenly, just before the cruise, I received an email giving us a table number for our group of ten. When we boarded in Rotterdam, I went right to the MDR to confirm this, and was told that they knew nothing about it. The Maitre’D finally managed to get us a table together, but it took him a long time, and clearly, there had been no communication between RCCL Dining and the Ship.
This B2B concept might also explain the Southampton debacle, which I will discuss later. It also seemed like many of the staff members (especially Guest Services) were inexperienced and unprepared to deal with large crowds. Hordes of travel agents and workmen in Rotterdam and Southampton only added to the crowding.
When we boarded in Rotterdam (after a chaotic embarkation), our cabin steward was surprised to see us. He showed us his passenger list, and we were on it, but not for boarding in Rotterdam. He asked us if we were only on for one night, and we said no, we are staying until Ft. Lauderdale. He apologized and later brought us all of our D+ papers and information. The people in the cabin next door were smoking on their balcony, I informed the cabin steward and he asked them to stop.
A friend of ours told us that they had received a letter informing them that they had to get off in Southampton (we were planning to stay on the ship). We went to the Guest Services Desk to ask about this, since we did not get any such letter. The man at the desk gave us a letter (with somebody else’s name and cabin number on it) which indicated we should meet in the Opal Theatre at 11:00 AM the next day (Oct. 15) where we would be “escorted off the ship, have our passport stamped, and then escorted right back on”. When we got to the theatre, we were in a group of workmen. There was no RCCL representative there, and no announcement. After waiting 30 minutes, we decided to just get off the ship ourselves. Then we heard a general announcement saying “All guests are reminded they must get off the ship immediately”. We ran into an RCCL representative in the Royal Promenade and told her about all of the workmen waiting in the theatre, she didn’t know anything about it. She told us we only had to get off the ship, get our passport stamped, and get right back on. Later, we found out that the theatre gathering was only for the workmen, and we should never have been directed there in the first place.
Anyway, we got off the ship and got our passports stamped. The UK Immigration official told us to just “loop around, and get right back on the ship”. There were no signs, or any information about how to do this “loop around”. We tried to get back on the same way we had come out, but there we were stopped cold by an extremely nasty RCCL Terminal Agent. There was a group of us, and she said “You cannot get back on the ship, and you are probably going to have to wait here two hours”. We tried to explain that this was not what any of us had been told. She became even more rude and nasty. We ended up in a very crowded room with a lot of other people. Finally, they told us that everyone had to be off the ship before we could get back on, and that there were 500 passengers still on the ship. This was all news to us!
People began pushing and shoving in a dangerous way. Then, to add insult to injury, we saw that they were letting a large group of “Day Visitors” (travel agents) board the ship before us. Now the crowd became enraged! We were near the door to board the ship, and I was starting to feel that I might be trampled. After about an hour and a half of this, we finally got back on the ship. By the way, one couple in front of us snuck on with the travel agents. It was complete chaos, and nobody was in charge.
Now it gets worse! We returned to our cabin, and I sat down on the bed facing the door to take off my jeans (I was in my underwear). The door opened and a couple walked in! We were all shocked! They had the key to our cabin and their pre-printed bag tags also showed our cabin number (so they had had it for a while). I went down to Guest Services, and they said they would deactivate the other couple’s Seapass Card and give them another cabin, but instead, they deactivated ours. It took me two more trips to Guest Services to get it straightened out. Overall, this was our worst cruising day in our long history of cruising!
I am trying to get to the good stuff, but the bad stuff was really bad! As others have noted, the interactive TV either didn’t work, or kept changing our show times, so we had to constantly contact Guest Services (who were clearly overwhelmed) to try to find out what our real show times were.
The one thing we have always loved on Oasis and Allure was the Concierge Lounge. It was a beautiful and quiet place to hang out any time, and also to use the computers there. For us, it was not about the free drinks, as much as it was about the calm and privacy. I am extremely disappointed that RCCL has chosen to do away with this really nice benefit for the D+ passengers. As a “concession”, they allowed us to have drinks in the new Pinnacle Lounge on Deck 17, but only during cocktail hour, plus it smelled so bad of paint, that we never went back after a quick look on the first day.
OK, now I am going to talk about the good stuff.
As a courtesy to D+, they offered us breakfast and lunch in Chops. We went there often for breakfast, and it was very nice, and we did appreciate it.
Our waiter in the MDR, Ali Suherman, and our assistant waiter, Santo, were the best we have ever had on any ship, and we were very grateful to have them. They did a fantastic job!! We thought the food in the MDR was very good, no complaints at all. Our cabin steward, Stevo, was also excellent. He did everything he could to make our cruise pleasant, especially after we got off to such a terrible start.
We were pleasantly surprised that the Windjammer was not overcrowded, and the food was good there too
I would also like to thank Manuel Adela “Bong”, the pianist for the Oasis Guest Choir, directed by Ruth, a retired music teacher. Singing in the choir was one of the highlights of this cruise for me, and I really appreciated their efforts.
Of course, we enjoyed being with old friends and new, as always. We loved all of the activities organized by the Cruise Critics, and the Pink Boa Cruisers. Thanks again to Chiqui for the great event planning, Emmy for the Pink Boa Cruisers Luncheon, Carola, for all of the pre-cruise help with Amsterdam and Rotterdam, Indra and Leon for the Scavenger Hunt, and Tim and Sue for the Vision Cruisers Lunch (for those of us on the Vision TA in April, 2015).
We thoroughly enjoyed our day in Vigo, and were touched by the tremendous outpouring of affection as the whole town turned out to wish us farewell. It was very moving, and I told my DH that he must be very proud of his homeland.
Unlike others, we had no problems with disembarkation. We walked off at 6:10 AM and were in a cab by 6:33 AM.
Overall, we had a good time with our friends, and we appreciated that the majority of the staff tried very hard to be helpful. Guest Services were inexperienced and overwhelmed, and they needed more help. For the first time, we are questioning our loyalty to RCCL. We sincerely hope this was just a one-time thing, and not a continuing trend, but only time will tell. Read Less