Embarkation - for us was very smooth as our private transfer from the Empire Palace Hotel in Rome was booked for 12 midday meaning we arrived after the boarding rush and were dropped off right beside the ship. The port is very large and we ... Read More
Embarkation - for us was very smooth as our private transfer from the Empire Palace Hotel in Rome was booked for 12 midday meaning we arrived after the boarding rush and were dropped off right beside the ship. The port is very large and we on our drive through we saw many passengers who were dropped off at the Port entrance toting luggage for at least 1km to board the ship. The trip to the Port at Civitavecchia was 79km, so glad our trip package included all private transfers as the distance from the airport to our hotel was 31km, but seemed longer.
Cabin - our cabin was on deck 8 ocean view balcony, 1D. Furnishings were a bit tired however, it was clean & comfortable with ample drawer & hanging space. On arrival our fridge(which we were informed was really just a chiller) was not cold and our in-cupboard safe would not lock. We reported this to our cabin steward when she soon arrived for introductions and after we returned to the cabin a couple of hours later, both had been fixed with no further problems. The shower has dispenser for hair & body wash which was a nice touch, so I didn't need to use the items I packed. There was also a small extender clothes line in the shower recess.
Dining - Didn't disappoint! We prebooked Tides on deck 5 for my time dining. The menu was extensive and the portions were the largest I have ever experienced on any other cruise. The service was excellent and although the staff were always super busy, they were always very friendly & made time for a chat & a joke. We also used the Windjammer (buffet) for breakfast, lunch & some dinners and we were very impressed with the quality and variety of the dishes every day. We were also pleasantly surprised by the layout of the buffet servery stations. They were arranged in such a way that we could walk right around the station, eliminating ques. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean, so we had not seen this arrangement of servery stations before, but do hope other cruise lines adopt it as well.
Also the Windjammer dining area was huge having the inside and outside areas, meaning there was no problem finding a seat.
Service - Over all, we were impressed with the service we received around the ship.
On day three (a sea day), although I was obsessive about the hand washing & sanitizing routine, I still managed to catch something that vigorously disagreed with me. After been bedridden all day, I eventually visited the on board medical center that evening. The doctor on duty was very thorough taking information of what and where I'd eaten prior to boarding and since boarding. I received appropriate medication and a bland diet leaflet and was asked not to leave my cabin until the nurse released. I was also informed that I would not be charged for the consultation or medication and, as I was seconded to my cabin, I would receive complimentary room service. The next morning, I received a phone call from the service desk offering a full refund for my excursion that day as well as complimentary access to the paid movies on the television. I was overwhelmed and appreciative of the exceptional service I received. I was released from my cabin at 6.30pm on day four.
Entertainment - The theater was a let down for us. There seemed to be a lot of comedians & jugglers and not so many choreographed shows. However, the shows we did see were lively with colorful costumes accomplished performers. Absolutely loved the Celine Deon tribute show. The designated Cinema was a bit of a let down. We managed to see a couple of movies, however we just couldn't get seats in any of the allotted time slots for one particular movie even though we arrived 45 minutes prior to the allotted time, due to the small size of the cinema, and people holding seats of others despite regular notifications around the ship that the holding of seats IS NOT ALLOWED. Very disappointing! The cinema was also freezing cold, so we needed to take warm jackets.
Excursions - We had pre booked all our excursions with the cruise line, and we would thoroughly recommend this to anyone. If I had not done this, I would not have received my excursion refund, also, we were delayed by at least one hour docking in Dubai, but all excursions booked were honored. The meeting place for most of the excursions was in the Coral Theater. We arrived at the allocated time on our ticket and were given numbered stickers for our respective tours and were directed to the corresponding numbered seats to wait for our tour call. This process was very well organised and with minimal waiting times whether the ship was docked or if we tendered in to shore. All of our excursions were well organised with very knowledgeable tour guides. We received detailed information and reliable transportation to and from the ship at all times.
GYM - We didn't bother visiting the gym preferring to do the walking track and swim.
The Ship - Although certain areas of the ship were looking tired and dated, overall it was very clean. Our only criticism is that the glass ( there is a lot of it around- the floor to ceiling windows in restaurants and balcony's) was very streaked and not pleasant to look
through. We had little to no sea spray during our trip, it was very calm and glassed out a lot of the time. The window obviously were not cleaned after the last cruise. We have noticed on past cruises, that this is something that the crew are always on top of and if the weather is not so good, as soon as there is some calm weather they're right onto the window cleaning.
Disembarkation - We were scheduled to dock in Dubai at 2pm however, due to another ship being docked in our space we were delayed by about 1.5 hour. Then delayed by a further hour receiving the return of our passports and the face to face with Dubai Customs. This resulted in our being and hour & a half late for our Dune Dinner Safari excursion. None of this was the fault of Royal Caribbean, and they worked tirelessly to move us off the ship as soon as possible. We still did our excursion, just a little disappointed that we lost daylight and it was dusk by the time we reached the dunes. The rest of the night went very well and back to the ship by 9pm.
Hotels - In Rome we stayed 2 days at the Empire Palace Hotel before boarding our cruise. The hotel inside was typical of Rome's history with pillars, historical painted ceilings and dark timber. The reception staff were very helpful with maps & directions and we had complimentary breakfasts. The hotel was very central and walking distance for cafes & coffees etc and some major attractions such as the Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria della Vittoria Cathedral & the Trevi Fountain. WE had pre booked a Big Red Bus Hop on Hop off tour and thoroughly recommend this tour. As well as a great way to see and learn about the history of Rome, & we were given English speaking headsets for the continuous commentary. Included in the tickets were complimentary entry to tours at certain places of interest The tour company has tour guides who can take bookings and hand out brochures stationed at all of their stops. Well work it!!
We also had a 2 day stop over in Dubai at the Four Points by Sheraton Down Town Dubai before flying home. This hotel was ultra modern and very spacious. Being somewhat exhausted after our journey, we elected to eat at the hotel bistro, and breakfasts were also included. On arrival at 10am, we were able to store our luggage and decided to use the hotel tour agent to book a Hop on Hop off bus city tour. Again we were not disappointed with the tour or the commentary and we again received complimentary entry vouchers to the Preferring to just sight see from the bus, we only got off once at the Dubai Mall and visited the Dubai Aquarium using our complimentary voucher. The aquarium was AMAZING with so many marine species we have ever seen in one place & we almost got lost in there it is so big.
The following day we took a pre booked Bus tour to Abu Dharbi. It was interesting to see the difference between the two cities. Dubai, with more fancy skyscrapers than the whole of Australia has, and Abu Dhabi, still with some impressive skyscrapers, but focusing more on Trees, shrubs & gardens. Returned home after a 12 hour day and didn't even bother eating.
All in all would absolutely, with out a doubt, recommend this trip. To see the places we visited was an awesome adventure. Read Less