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172 Royal Caribbean Canada & New England Cruise Reviews

Best to begin with a positive - stops were quite enjoyable and onboard entertainment was excellent. Beyond these not much was above average. The ship is not impressive by any standard of appearance excellence, yet from a functional view ... Read More
Best to begin with a positive - stops were quite enjoyable and onboard entertainment was excellent. Beyond these not much was above average. The ship is not impressive by any standard of appearance excellence, yet from a functional view the ship performed well (got to all points safe). Downside began during boarding when we had to stand over 30 minutes (insufficient seating) waiting to board. Email to travelers advised processing at 12:00 and boarding at 1:00. Someone should have thought through seating needs if travelers showed at 12:00. First two dinners my wife received the incorrect meal; first time I had to share mine with her so she could eat with the group. Dinner table was right at the entry to Mistrel (dining room) where all traffic in and out passed, including wait staff getting food and returning dishes. Table placement prevented seeing or engagement in any ‘cook/wait staff’ dinner entertainment – very sad. Purchased the full internet package (full access the entire cruise – excellent package) it was down several hours. Breakfast in main dining, at times, presented and tasted as if out of a box - ready to warm and eat; except items were served less than warm. We bought a 3 night Specialty Dining package online before boarding the ship, Giovani’s, Chop’s and Izumi for $55 pp. We made reservations before boarding. Reservations at Giovanni’s and Chops went well. Izumi’s told us the reservation we made was before they open; found out after calling to confirm - no one called us; imagine the displeasure had we showed at our reserved time to a closed restaurant. We like this package, have purchased it on other RC cruises so we knew the drill at each restaurant; or thought we did. At Izumi’s we discovered instead of a set amount of money for dinner we would only receive a 20% discount. At that point we were so irritated with Izumi’s we left the restaurant – clear to all our displeasure. To a positive, Giovanni’s was excellent; exactly what the cruise traveler expects and pays to receive. Chop’s was less so; food was excellent but the dining environment was poorly managed. Tables for 2 were stacked against a beautiful window in such a way that only one guest could see the beautiful sunset. And, to compound the disappointment the tables were unreasonably close (literally inches apart) to to each other. To make my point, when the waiter took the order for the couple seated next to us his derriere was almost in my wife’s face. Flabbergasted at this error, I picked up our table and chairs and moved them - said nothing to the staff, my actions communicated volumes. All of the above was communicated to ship staff. Some were addressed others received no interest despite communication from the ship that ‘they want to know complaints’. Most shortcomings were explained as ‘the staff is new and this is like a training cruise’. Holy mackerel what a statement to give to the customer who paid full price expecting a trained crew and a well-appointed ship. From my perspective, few of the failings were due to a lack of training, merely poor thinking. To lay the onus on the staff was poor form, every failure had a management component, including the technology issues. Sure nature creates havoc and things break but to tell the customer he/she is buying 24 hour connectivity one better be prepared to delivery or else compensate for downtime; doing neither merely leaves the customer irritated. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
Embarkation was smooth for us, but debarkation was a headache every time, but especially for leaving the last day which dragged on for an hour. Many times at port the lines were very long down a narrow hallway next to cabins. The lines ... Read More
Embarkation was smooth for us, but debarkation was a headache every time, but especially for leaving the last day which dragged on for an hour. Many times at port the lines were very long down a narrow hallway next to cabins. The lines at tendered ports were even longer. Food and dining experience was the most disappointing. We had such high expectations based on our last cruise with another cruise lines. From the beginning we wanted to make a set dining reservation, but were told we could not. I booked the cruise over a year before sailing, so I could not understand why we couldn't settle the dining issue in the beginning. I tried numerous times throughout the year, to no avail. So we ended up in the Minstrel Dining room at a terrible table. The traffic by the wait staff was so distracting. They were staging right beside our table and one time a plate of food was nearly dumped on one of our table mates. One waiter came by pushing a cart of food at a high speed making beeping sounds! We complained every night and got moved around to different tables. One or two nights we were happy, but mostly got moved to other high traffic areas. The food was disappointing too. It was pretty tasteless and uninteresting. As I remember the food from our last cruise, we enjoyed every bite. This food was like eating at a Ryan's Steakhouse. Just mass produced and bland. We stayed on Deck 4 which is the best place for access to the Centrum and Guest Services. It was a very convenient location. However, during the night they were working up on deck 5 right above our heads. It woke us up most nights. We were also unhappy that the arrangement of the furniture blocked our view out of the large window. I would have enjoyed sitting by the window in the mornings drinking coffee. Our toilet also whistled and sang which was a little distracting. The common areas of the ship were nice and the pool area was generous and attractive. We also enjoyed the entertainment provided. Excursions - We booked our excursions online before the cruise. There was one that we could not get at the desired time and were told to go ahead and book it at 8:00 and check at the excursion desk when we got on board to get it changed to 12:15. So that's what we did. We checked every day and could never get it changed. It was the day before the excursion that we were told they would put us on a waiting list. WHY were we not told that earlier? We finally cancelled that excursion and took another one. The excursions we did were great! The only problem we really had was with the booking agents. Overall, I would not cruise with RC again unless it was a fabulous price to a place that I am dying to see. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My husband and I sailed for the first time on RCCL. We sailed on Liberty of the Seas out of Bayonne NJ to Canada and New England 9/10-9/19. We have sailed with Princess, Norwegian, Disney and Celebrity. Embarkation - Easy drive ... Read More
My husband and I sailed for the first time on RCCL. We sailed on Liberty of the Seas out of Bayonne NJ to Canada and New England 9/10-9/19. We have sailed with Princess, Norwegian, Disney and Celebrity. Embarkation - Easy drive from northeast PA. Got to Cape Liberty around 10:30 am. Dropped off luggage, parked, checked in and on board ship by 11:30am. Quick and easy! When you check in you are given a number for boarding. They are called in order. There is an area for you to sit and wait for your number. Tip: get there early if you can. If you get there too early there is a Dunkin Donuts in the mall by Cape Liberty you can have breakfast. Ship/cabin: Ship shows her age but is very clean. Wide hallways. Had cabin 9384 balcony on 9th floor. Balcony good size. Cabin always kept clean. A lot of space for clothes. Bed not comfortable. Bathroom good size with walk in shower. Pomenade was fantastic and fun. Flow rider was fun to watch. Elevators slow and crowded especially on formal nights and after shows. Food: Windjammer buffet not very good. Same food every day not good variety and taste okay. I am a vegatarian and love salads and fruit. Very limited choices of salad fixings. Seating was challenging just not enough seats for everyone especially on sea days. Buffets on other cruise lines we traveled much better. We chose My Time Dining but made reservation before sailing. Glad we did because as we were in line others did not make reservations and had to wait until after 8:00pm. TIP- make reservations for main dining room if you chose My Time Dining. You have one hour window with your reservation. Food in main dining room was good not great. Service was very good. Sorrentos pizza okay they also had salad and bruschetta. Coffee shop was good place to get a coffee in the morning without dealing with the frenzy of the buffet. Coffee Shop also had sandwiches and desserts. Did not eat at Johnny Rockets but a great view on deck 12. Entertainment: In the Air, Saturday Night Fever, comedians, Quest and Dancing with the stripes all very good. Other entertainment in lounges was below average always the same music. Parades and shows in the promenade were very good. Lounges: Hoof and Claw good beer selection. Skooners good drink selection. Champagne Bar limited beer and martini selection. Boleros good for tequila drinks but not good selection of beer and Martinis. Vintages specialized in wine. Seems each bar has its speciality but Hoof and Claw could make any drink. Ports: tendering in Bar harbor was great they used local tour boats instead of life boats. Held a lot more people. Easy on and off. Good idea RCCL! Portland fun city make sure to go up top of ship when leaving Portland to see the most beautiful lighthouse Portland Headlight. St. Johns NB okay, Halifax great walking city and Boston took trolley tour and then walked to North End Little Italy. Debarkation- carry own luggage off. Lined you up in dining room on floor 4. Was congested with people and luggage. Started at 7:15 leaving people off ship. Did best they could but people got anxious. Got off boat, through customs in car by 8:00 am Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
We (there were 5 of us from 69-54 in age) had booked this particular cruise for a couple of reasons. One was for the ports that were visited and the other was for the ship itself. A couple of us had been on the Liberty of the Seas a ... Read More
We (there were 5 of us from 69-54 in age) had booked this particular cruise for a couple of reasons. One was for the ports that were visited and the other was for the ship itself. A couple of us had been on the Liberty of the Seas a couple of years after its maiden voyage. I have to say there is no comparison to how it was and how it is, except to say that it is still a beautiful ship and the staff is still friendly. Let's start from the beginning. First we flew from Nashville to the Newark airport the night before and we stayed at the Country Inn & Suites in Elizabeth, NJ. The hotel has a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and they have a free breakfast. It was reasonably priced and the accommodations were excellent. The employees at the hotel were great. Before we left on vacation, I had made arrangements for all of our transfers with Carmel Limo Service and I had booked all of our shore excursions from the internet instead of the cruise ship. So the next morning our Carmel driver showed up on time at our hotel in a very nice SUV and took us to the port. Getting on the ship was a breeze. We got there about 11:00 and were on board by 11:30. We went upstairs to have a bite to eat at the Windjammer, which was fine. About 1:30 we went to our cabin on the 6th floor. Our cabin steward was Karen Porter and she was excellent. She kept our room stocked with ice and was very friendly. We had an inside cabin with a Promenade window view. Nice room, nothing special except the window and extra couch. Since we are only gold members, we didn't have too many luxuries like bath robes, etc. We never have had a bad cruise and this one wasn't bad either. However, there are some things that I was disappointed about such as the shows. The only Broadway style show was Saturday Night Fever, which was excellent. The ice show was also excellent. Other than those 2 shows, they didn't have much entertainment. They had a ventriloquist, Brad Cummings, which was good but all the other entertainment was either so so or not good at all. Even the Love and Marriage game wasn't all that funny. It was a real disappointment. I was also disappointed in the casino, not because I didn't win, because I never do, but the smoke was terrible. My husband and the other guys that were with us played Bingo but even that wasn't fun even though my husband did win once. The prices are way too high, especially if you want one of the tablets (which wins more than the paper cards). The tables were $52 but on the last night for jackpot bingo they were $69 and they only gave away about $3,000 for that session of bingo (total for the 3 games). The food was a real disappointment. It used to be good but not so much now. Don't get me wrong, we were never hungry. We could always find something to eat but it's pretty bad when there is a better variety and the food at the Windjammer is better than the dining room. However, we did eat in the dining room most of the time and they don't mind if you order more than one thing. We had my time dining but I had made reservations every night before we left so we wouldn't have to wait on a table. The first night they set us with a waiter named Darryl. We really liked him and had a good time. Every night after that I would request to be seated at his table and they would always tell us it was reserved and most of the time we didn't see anybody at his table. They set us with Cecilia after the first night and she was fine. She even went the extra mile for us, so no complaint about the wait staff. We like to play Phase 10 and it was hard to find a place to play because the card room was closed the whole time. One night we all gathered in our stateroom to play on the bed because all the available tables around the ship were taken. Apparently, we weren't the only ones that thought the entertainment was lack luster. The massage as the spa was excellent. Myself and one of our friends booked it for the morning of the last sea day and it was so worth the money. We got one of the spa specials that they have in the Cruise Compass every day and I would do it all of again. The ports we went to were great but like I said earlier I booked all our excursions separately from the ship. I will probably not sail with Royal Caribbean again unless we go back on the Allure, the Oasis or one of the other bigger ships. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
nice ship friendly crew. Navigation of ship good. Maintenance problems like non working safes and balcony doors took days to resolve. Food choices were cheap and not very enjoyable. Boarding took 4.5 hours for gold members. Platinum ... Read More
nice ship friendly crew. Navigation of ship good. Maintenance problems like non working safes and balcony doors took days to resolve. Food choices were cheap and not very enjoyable. Boarding took 4.5 hours for gold members. Platinum took 1.5 hours. Worst in many cruises I have taken. There were 4.5 hour delays in Boston because of poor planning by RCI planning team who should have prenotified Boston authorities about use of second gangway. Tour desk staff were not trained on cruise ports. Their answer was we never were there before. We paid for a professional cruise. Someone at RCI should have provided training before the maiden cruise by Liberty to New England and Canada. Debarcation was a debacle. No provision was made for early departures, and room service breakfast was cancelled on the last day without notification. Activities team did a great job, and shows were professionally done. First and second seating dinner service was excellent. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room was iffy at best. Orders were lost, service was not professional. Windjammer buffet was smooth, although seating was sometimes scarce. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Having worked on cruise ships for the past ten years I was looking forward to just being a passenger. I had never been on the Liberty of the Seas and didn't realize how many people could be aboard it. Since this was the last week ... Read More
Having worked on cruise ships for the past ten years I was looking forward to just being a passenger. I had never been on the Liberty of the Seas and didn't realize how many people could be aboard it. Since this was the last week before school started, there were loads of children on board. My first complaint was the embarkation process. There were very long lines and it took forever. The second complaint was the lack of elevators. There was always a long wait after each event let out (shows in particular). Because the ship was full, the shows were crowded and they had to put on extra performances of the ice show and one of the big shows. The ship had very little for seniors to do on sea days. The music was loud and noisy in the the atrium and there was not much quiet space to sit with a group of people to have a relaxing conversation or play a game of cards. The food was OK except for the first meal. Nearly everyone at our table returned the main course which was supposed to be prime rib. The remaining days the food was good. The entertainment was also very good although you had to get to the theater 45 minutes before the show to get a good seat. The service in the dining room and Windjammer was outstanding. I would say that our waiter and assistant waiter were some of the best I've ever had. Our cabin steward as also outstanding. The cabin (veranda cabin) was adequate although the shower was small. We took a few of the ship excursions and they were very good. We normally go on our own but decided to relax this trip. Disembarkation was a breeze. No problems. I would not recommend this cruise at the time for seniors. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
Boston embarkation was super easy. Arrived at 10:45 am and was onboard by 11 am. Staterooms were ready by 1:15 pm. Luggage arrived by 4 pm. Lunch was available in Windjammer starting at 11 am and Park Cafe near solarium at 1 pm. Specialty ... Read More
Boston embarkation was super easy. Arrived at 10:45 am and was onboard by 11 am. Staterooms were ready by 1:15 pm. Luggage arrived by 4 pm. Lunch was available in Windjammer starting at 11 am and Park Cafe near solarium at 1 pm. Specialty dining was fantastic. The Minstrel Main Dining room food was disappointing. My time dining worked great – our longest wait to be seated was less than 10 minutes, but we booked all reservations in advance via RCCL website. Cabin storage was fine. Closet had ample storage and luggage was stowed under the bed. We did take a power strip and used it at the desk. Bathroom has a shelf below sink and storage behind mirror. Shower was small. We avoided the shower curtain issues by using binder clips – great advice from previous cruisers. Hump Cabin 8588 (E1 Balcony) has a pie shaped slightly larger balcony and was conveniently close to elevators, Centrum and most dining. You could hear music and activities from Centrum each night until 11:30 pm. If you are sensitive to noise, take earplugs. Cabin 8586 had a huge balcony. Cabin 8590 had a tiny balcony. The Casino smelled heavily of smoke so we avoided the area when possible.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
This was our 11th cruise and our 2nd with RCI. Dining: First, the good: The food in the dining room was comparable to other cruise lines and the presentation was good. The bad: While the main server was excellent, his assistants limited ... Read More
This was our 11th cruise and our 2nd with RCI. Dining: First, the good: The food in the dining room was comparable to other cruise lines and the presentation was good. The bad: While the main server was excellent, his assistants limited English posed a problem with almost anything you asked for. She couldn’t multi-task making the main server do all the work. The ugly: The buffet closes at 9:00 and then your only options are very limited. You can’t get a fresh burger or fresh pizza and when I asked the omelet man for a fresh ham/cheese omelet, he told me to get one of the pre-made ones. Dining options are very limited. Food in the buffet is lukewarm and usually dry. Entertainment: The good: The violinist blew us away. What a talent! The one comedian was excellent as was the juggler. The bad: The only entertainment in the evenings was in the main theater. If you didn’t want to see another production show, you had no options. The ugly: My DH is sometimes confined to his room due to health and yet the tv has no movies and shows the same episode of the same show over and over. We saw the same “King of Queens” episode every day, several times a day. The movie screen out by the pool only showed three movies. Dr Zhivago, a very old movie; Despicable 2, a kids movie on a cruise with all adults and “About Time”, the only decent one. If you aren’t going to have other entertainment at night, at least have decent movies as an option. Worse: all the entertainment in the centrum. You have this large disco and other venue areas, but instead you schedule all the participant entertainment in this small confined space where only a few can participate. This is where the 50’s party, the 70’s disco party, the Bollywood lessons and about everything else was held. Seating is very limited and the rest fight to see over the heads of others. Forget about getting on the dance floor as it only holds about 20. Room: The good: We had a handicap accessible room which was large and easy to maneuver. The shower was large and had a very convenient stool. The bad: The automatic door was the only way to open the door from outside and the switch kept the door open for about 60-90 seconds. This was great if no one was in the room, but if someone was in bed or in a state of undress, anyone could look into your room. The ugly: mold in the shower on the grout. Tendering: Only good. They did a great job with tendering. Pools & hot tubs: The good: NONE; The bad: everything. The ugly: none of the hot tubs had jets that worked. The night before a sea day, we went up to get in the hot tub. The two hot tubs in the open area were roped off. The heated pool in the solarium was drained and being cleaned. That left one very small hot tub with no jets. We got in and were joined by two very nice ladies. Within a few minutes, 4 women came and asked “how much time do you have left on your 15 minutes”. We asked what she was talking about and she pointed to the medical advice about no more than 15 minutes and asked again. We stated we had just got in and she said “fine, we’ll time it from 15 minutes from now” and they proceeded to stand there and watch the time. Not relaxing at all. Now don't get me wrong, I can have fun on any cruise as long as it doesn't sink. But I felt there was much lacking that would not take much to fix. Get the jets in the hot tubs fixed. Don't close them the night before a sea day when you can stay up and relax. Get some decent movies on the tv and especially on the big movie screen and lastly, use the disco or another venue where everyone can participate in the fun without getting hit in the head.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Last cruised on RCCL on the Song of America. Have sailed since on other cruise lines. Overall this cruise ship is just average. It appears that RCCl has cut back in many areas and it shows. The ship is clean and our cabin was well taken ... Read More
Last cruised on RCCL on the Song of America. Have sailed since on other cruise lines. Overall this cruise ship is just average. It appears that RCCl has cut back in many areas and it shows. The ship is clean and our cabin was well taken care of. No amenities provided in cabin, not in bathroom, no ice bucket or ice, no robes, nothing except high priced mini refrigerator with water, soda, and snacks. Dining is at best average. Quality of food was good - served hot - might even have been excellent. Our dining room service was the poorest we have ever experienced on a cruise. No bar/wine service waiter, our waiter was not interested in selling because no effort was made on his part. Service extremely slow and inconsistent. Issue with wine order handled with a total no service attitude. Waiter's solution over ruled by floor supervisor who had ZERO customer service skills. Buffet was good for the most part. Did not try any of the specialty restaurants. We had My Time Dining. Worked OK for us with our reservation. Many passengers did not understand how My Time Dining worked and were not pleased when they couldn't eat at Their Time. Ships entertainment in main theater not very good. One show with a comic was excellent. Music in ships venues was better that ships band. Itinerary was good. Ports were all nice and interesting. Ship not just sharp and crisp in operation. Nothing to rate ship poor but nothing special to rate ship anything other than average. Next cruise will not be on RCCL. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
So I just got off of the Canada sailing on the Brilliance of the Seas. I really could not believe the big change in this cruise line. I have to say its right along with the older carnival ships.I was so dismayed at everything on thi ship. ... Read More
So I just got off of the Canada sailing on the Brilliance of the Seas. I really could not believe the big change in this cruise line. I have to say its right along with the older carnival ships.I was so dismayed at everything on thi ship. I have been a travel agent yrs ago and have been on about 35 cruises in the last 21 yrs. Me and my husband wanted to not go to sit down, cause we just wanted to not have to dress up every night so we went to the buffet.Not only that but we sure were not going to wait to 8:30 pm to eat as thats all they gave to us. Out og our wholr 7 day cruise 3 people (employees) went out of their way to say Hello! not like the other ships where every time you would walk by a employee they all would say hello.And make you feel welcome. The food was like caftera food. Every night just about the same thing. Cold food, the people serving you never would smile or say a thing to you. Fast hard rock and roll music in the buffet at night when people want to whine down and listen to something more smoothing while eating.Most of the ship was older people like 60 and up. NO workers went out of their way to help you out for anything.Our cabin was kept clean, only good thing to say. Our cabin stewart talked so low we could not even here him and never even introducded himself to us.NO one smilied on the ship like if these workers were like captive or something. Everyone we talked to said the same, now I know why it was so cheap. Yes, you get what you pay for....... The ports of the call whier about the only thing that was great. All I can say is nothing like Celebrity Cruise lines. I have NEVER had a bad cruise or bad food with Celebrity. You want a great time with wonderful food sail with Celebrty next time you wont to try any other after that. its worth the extra money. What in the world has happened to RCL, or is it only this ship? bad news......never again even for 200.00.....its ok if its just to see these ports book it but dont expect nothing much at all sit down dinners I heard from many people were worse........ Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
Prior to the cruise, there weren't any email communications/updates from the cruise line. It felt as though I wasn't sure the reservation existed until I did the online check-in. I guess I expected some email reminders or ... Read More
Prior to the cruise, there weren't any email communications/updates from the cruise line. It felt as though I wasn't sure the reservation existed until I did the online check-in. I guess I expected some email reminders or countdowns, etc. The cruise was certainly for the retired crowd. There were very, very few people under 60 on the cruise. Because of this (I’m guessing), everything closes early, about 12-1am. FIRST DAY On first day, you’ll probably have to wait for your stateroom if you board early. If so, go get lunch in Windjammer while you’re waiting. Windjammer will be very busy around this time, but you can eat out by Rita’s Cantina if it’s nice weather. It’s actually a much better option if the weather is nice! The mandatory drill is at 4pm, so plan things around that. In between lunch and the drill, try to find out when the formal nights are, and when the specialty plates are being served in the main dining room. It’s good to know when the formal nights are so you can book spa treatments (hair styling or shave) on formal nights. Similarly, you’ll want to know when the special plates are being served in the main dining room because you don’t want to have a reservation for a specialty restaurant when they’re doing something special in the main dining room (lobster night). The Guest Services desk should be able to give you all this info, but don’t take “We’re not sure yet” as the answer. Tell them you need to know to plan your spa and specialty restaurant reservations. You might have to push a little because they’re quick to give the easy reply that doesn’t really answer your question. But why wouldn’t they know this well in advance? You could also find out when they’re doing tours of the ship (if any – I didn’t see any on my cruise), and what type of entertainment is playing, and where it’s playing. It’s fun to be on deck for the “Sail Away Social” with a drink for the departure. However, get your drink at one of the inside bars, because they’re less busy than on the deck bars and may have quicker service. If you find out what other entertainment options are playing during departure, you may prefer the classical violin music (Schooner Bar), or Rock music (on the deck), or dance music (in the Centrum). You can also make your reservations for the spa based on what you’ve planned for the week (i.e. if the men want to get a shave, or if the ladies want to get their hair done, before the formal nights). However, do your mani/pedis on land before the cruise because I’m sure it’ll be way less expensive on land. This would also be a good time to make reservations for the specialty restaurants, assuming you’ve already found out when the specialty plates are being served in the main dining room as mentioned above. More advice below on that… There were rough seas on my cruise, which meant for a lot of rocking. Not much you could do about that. The ship had to stop for a few hours for the storm pick up ahead of us. It was OK after that. DINING Dining is the biggest reason I’m drawn to cursing as my vacation choice. In my opinion, the purpose of the cruise is to treat yourself, and indulge in great food. I book cruises because I love the excellent food, but I was seriously annoyed, if not disgusted, that Izumi and Rita’s had a la carte pricing and NOT a cover charge (as advertized online when I booked). Chef’s Table, Chops Grille, and Giovanni’s were still cover charges, gladly. This meant that Izumi and Rita’s had prices on the menu, which basically meant you would pay for each item you order from the menu. The prices were quite expensive too, even for a NYC resident like myself. I was looking forward to trying out Izumi and Rita’s, but not when I can get the same food for the same price on land! Because of this, 50% of my specialty restaurant options were effectively no longer of value to me. Sorry to say it folks, but this change in pricing put a HUGE damper on my trip. And now for the rest of the dining experience… We ate in the Windjammer every day, and the main dining room several times. We also ate at the Chef’s Table, Giovanni’s, and Chops Grille, but as I mentioned above, not at Izumi or Rita’s, even though I would have liked to. The first two nights of “My Time” dining had very long lines and waits, even with reservations. To avoid this, you could take advantage of the discounts they offer (20% off) if you eat in one of the specialty restaurants on the first night. You could also avoid the lines if you eat during the last sitting, which is 8pm I think. Specialty restaurants were fast to book up, but when we were there, there were lots of tables open, which was confusing. Make your specialty dinner reservations early, but make your reservations for nights towards the end of the cruise. I recommend this because eating in the specialty restaurants during the early part of your trip makes the food in the main dining room look poor in comparison to the amazing food in the specialty restaurants. Save the best for last, if you can. As I mention above, try to find out when there are special plates being served in the main dining room (you don’t want to be in a specialty restaurant on lobster night). Don’t forget; you can order multiple items on the menu, so don’t be afraid to try several things. I suggest making your dinner reservations earlier in the evenings, unless you don’t mind eating (a lot of food) at a later sitting. I prefer to not sleep on a full stomach. Give your poor body some time to digest all the food you’re about to eat. The chefs table was very well done. When you arrive, you’re greeted by a crew member (they'll recognize you by face and address you formally by last name the entire dinner). You wait in a small private room with the other guests, and are given a glass of champagne. You're seated at your assigned spot, and you chat with the other guests. Formal dress is requested, so if it's not a formal night, it will be a third formal night you'll need to pack for. You get a five-course meal with excellent wine pairings with each course. The chef will explain (very quickly, unfortunately) how the dishes are prepared. Be ready to listen carefully, because the chef’s accent can be difficult to understand because he speaks so quickly. The first course was a jumbo shrimp and salmon, followed by scallops, followed by soups, followed by Kobe beef, and ended with peach desert and side of wonderful chocolates. We ate at Giovanni’s on another night, and didn’t think anything could beat it, until we ate at Chops Grille on another night. They were both absolutely amazing. I have 4-5 bakeries within a few blocks of my apartment in NYC, and Chops Grille had the best Red Velvet cake I ever tasted, and I’ve tasted some great Red Velvet cake. Windjammer was buffet, and it was good on first and last day. The other days were good also, but not as good as first and last. I suppose you have good and bad days everywhere. FYI; the orange juice in the Windjammer is not orange juice; it’s concentrate. Gross. Because seating can be sparse at times in Windjammer, eat out by Rita’s Cantina because the view is great on nice weather days, and there is usually seating readily available. The Windjammer crew was pretty attentive to the guests, but the drink bar attendants weren’t friendly, and sometimes rude. For instance, I was getting wine with lunch one day, and I accidentally knocked over a wine glass (this happened primarily because there are no trays, so you need to carry your plate, drink, flatware, and personal belongings, etc. to your table). When I knocked over and broke the glass, the attendant just looked at me and didn't do anything, almost as if he expected me to start cleaning it up. I would have, but he didn't even offer me a paper towel. I’m in the service industry, and that response was completely unacceptable. If a guest accidentally knocks something over, you do whatever you can to make sure they don’t feel bad about it. I was also unpleasantly surprised that the fresh juice bar was only open for a limited amount of time in the mornings, and on one day, they ran out and closed early. Not sure how this can happen on a cruise. It was annoying because I paid for the drink package. BTW; the Park Café (in the Solarium) has salmon, bagels, and cream cheese each morning. This is not available in Windjammer. ONBOARD ENTERTAINMENT The classical guitar was absolutely fantastic. The guitarist was in Schooner Bar when I checked it out, and the ambiance there made the music even better. On another night, big band entertainment looked like it would have been nice to dance to, but I got there too late. Temperature (a singer and 3-person band) was excellent. The main singer was an entertainer at heart and I could have listened to him all night. I saw the aerial acrobatics in Centrum. It was cool, and different, but still not my cup of tea. The piano player/singer was not good I’m sorry to say… The string quartet was also nice if you like classical music, which I do. It was very relaxing. The late nice dance option was totally empty every night, which was depressing, and meant we stopped trying after 2nd night. However, the bartenders and DJ were always a blast to hang out with in the empty bar! One-on-one entertainment! We went to the later seating of the shows in the theater, and it was hard to get seating. I think that’s because all the older guests went for earlier dining, and went to the later show after dinner. Therefore, the later shows were packed, unlike what the daily program suggested. EXCURSIONS We thought we heard announcements that excursions were all booked up, but I later found out that they weren't. It made me wonder if they made those announcements to spur bookings. Excursions were expensive for what you were getting. We went on the Halifax Titanic tour, and the tour guide was great. However, there absolutely wasn’t enough time in the museum. I only saw about 50-60% of what was available to be seen, and had to rush out without even seeing the gift shop. The guide explained everything we were seeing while on the bus, and did a very good jog explaining the Titanic graves. BTW, the tipping etiquette for tour guides is 10-15% of the tour price, if you’re happy with the guide. I’m sorry to say the St John was disappointing, even though the tour guides were fun. We did the Scenic St. John tour. We could have saved the $50 each and just walked around town. They brought us to the Reversing Falls Rapids. It was nice, and somewhat interesting, but the backdrop was a HUGE power plant, which killed the scenery. I would have rather taken a cab to the museum, and then go to the Old City Market to walk around. The Old City Market had some really cool stuff, and GREAT food. Definitely check it out. We had great weather in Bar Harbor, and it was beautiful town. We didn’t do an excursion, and I’m glad we didn’t. We walked around, browsed the shops, and ate at an AMAZING restaurant named Paddy's Irish Pub & Restaurant. Best clam chowder! We didn't even get off the ship in Portland due to lack of interest. Weather was great, so a sailboat trip may have been nice, but it’s hard to guess the weather. Nonetheless, it’s a depressing day since it’s the last day, so maybe an excursion would have been nice, but they were expensive, so I guess it depends on your energy levels. CABIN Our cabin was smaller than other rooms in same class (class “H”) by 20 sq ft. Not sure why our cabin was so much smaller, and there was no notice about it. I only found it out because our travel partners were in adjacent room. The bathroom smelt mildew; not terrible, but noticeable. The shower was tight. I'm 5'11", 170lb male, and if the shower was any smaller, it would have been too small for me. It makes me feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. The shower curtain didn't reach ground, so a lot of water sprays all over the bathroom floor. Also, the rim at the bottom of the shower was very low, which made it even easier for water to spray on the floor. Make sure you put down a floor towel. The showerhead was a misty spray, as opposed to a stream, which was a little annoying. There was good closet and drawer space. We couldn’t find channel guide, and there was no iron. The cabin steward was good. And BTW, the tipping etiquette is $3 per day per person. I wish I found that out before I went on the cruise, because I under-tipped the steward. Oops… Sorry Mark… OTHER I got the Premium liquor package ($55/day), but it doesn't include items in mini bar or room service. The bars make measured drinks, which means the drinks aren’t strong at all. I would've been annoyed if I had to pay for each drink. Most, if not all, of the drinks were under $10, which is what the package covers. The Ultimate drink package (one step up, for an additional $10) would have also allowed you to get premium coffee, premium tea, sparkling bottled water, and fresh squeezed orange juice. It would have been worth the price with 1-2 lattes a day, and a fresh squeezed orange juice at breakfast (because as I mentioned, the OJ is concentrate otherwise). When you start the cruise, pick a bartender, and tip that one so you can get speedy service from him/her during the rest of your trip. They’re pretty responsive to tipping passengers. They'll also provide a heavier pour sometimes. Although you prepaid tips, an extra $1-2 a drink will go a long way when you need speed things up during busier days. Cash tips are even better. For the shopping on board: the brands on the ship are ok, but not spectacular. The only benefit is not paying duties/taxes, so don’t plan on any great deals other than saving on duties and taxes. The shops on the ship sell pretty cheap (as in quality, not price) goods. The prices are incredibly inflated, so they offer big discounts throughout the cruise to spur buying. There were raffles that felt like a racket because the prize was a free fifth item if you buy four other items. THAT was the raffle prize; a free 5th item after buying 4 others. The same thing happened with the artwork. They gave a seminar that imparts value for the artwork, then offers a discount if you “buy today.” For instance, they were selling paintings that “would normally go for $750-$1250 each”, but they’ll sell them to you for $350 each, or $950 if you buy five. Are you serious? Maybe I just wasn’t a fan of the art? I got really annoyed by a towel attendant (male, Eastern European) at the pool one day. When I was done with my towel, I wanted to return it to them instead of leaving it on the deck for them to pick up. When I asked the attendant if this is where I can drop it off, he didn’t even reply, and just rudely pointed to a basket. Again, I’m in the service industry, and he could have just said “Oh thank you sir. You can just place in that basket.” Instead, I felt treated as if I was an annoyance. I just wanted to help… The photographer on board was good and took great pictures, and had great energy. The down side is that the prints were $24 a print for 8x10 and $14 (I think) for 5x7. I had tons of my own digital pics (as does everyone else), so I’m surprised they cost so much. They should lower these prices to make the option more appealing, especially since they throw out the prints if they're not purchased. There's no laundry avail to guests. You can have wash and fold laundry done on board for $30 a bag, and it’s a pretty small bag. The bag should take 24-48 hrs. They’ll allow pajamas, pairs of socks, shorts, swimwear, t-shirts, and underwear only. The bag would probably fit a pair of shorts, a few pairs of underwear and socks and 2 t-shirts. You can also do the laundry per item cost (not cheap). You can also get items dry-cleaned. That should take 24hrs, or you can do express service for 50% extra. PUBLIC SPACES Seating in Centrum was sparse at times, especially when the entertainment was good (Temperature). The gym is very good, which is important when you’re eating and drinking whenever you’re NOT in the gym! I wish they had heavier free weights, but the machines were pretty good, and covered the basics. It wasn't crowded whenever I went, but I think that’s because of the demographic on board. Their "library" was two bookcases. They call it a "nook". It is not a “library.” Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
This cruise was recommended by friends who traveled last year. It was very restful and the ports were quaint and lovely. Have the lobster rolls whenever you can. The staff on this cruise was the finest I have encountered. Everything went ... Read More
This cruise was recommended by friends who traveled last year. It was very restful and the ports were quaint and lovely. Have the lobster rolls whenever you can. The staff on this cruise was the finest I have encountered. Everything went smoothly from boarding to disembarkment. We were pampered from the time we boarded. The excursions were fine but priced high. There was none that stood out as stellar. I visited the salon and received a good shampoo and blow dry. The food was excellent and the specialty restaurants did not disappoint. The only negative was lack of space to sit in the public areas on the days at sea. Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
While my wife and are relatively new to the cruise world (7 cruises) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon's expertise to know when a cruise is much less than it should be. If you like hard working, pleasant crew members the EotS ... Read More
While my wife and are relatively new to the cruise world (7 cruises) but it doesn't take a brain surgeon's expertise to know when a cruise is much less than it should be. If you like hard working, pleasant crew members the EotS is the ship for you. If you like organized, smooth embarkation and debarkation the EotS is for you. If you like great public areas that are interesting, well maintained and accommodating the EotS is for you. If you think country club casual clothes for dinner should include 1 1/2" wide suspenders over an "Old Guys Rule" T shirt and 40"+ jeans the EotS is the ship for you. If your idea of formal night is a polo shirt and some wash and wear khakis the EotS is for you. If you like wonderful dinner menus that describe a meal that you will never get the EotS is for you. If you like room carpeting that has coffee stains from the last decade the EotS is for you. If your idea of bathroom toiletries is a bar of soap and one of those plastic push button, all purpose lotions in the shower the EotS is for you. If you like to mix with fellow passengers who equate quantity of food with quality the EotS is for you. While we booked this trip on a last minute whim the fact remains that all of the above would be in place whether we were on the ship or not. The clear message is that for a few hundred dollars more you can get a cruise that will meet all of your expectations and more. I cannot recommend the RCI Explorer of the Seas to anyone. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
  We choose this cruise because if the itinery and we were not disappointed with the places we visited. The embarkation was fantastic with quick friendly service. The veranda cabin was typical with cheap chairs and table on the balcony. ... Read More
  We choose this cruise because if the itinery and we were not disappointed with the places we visited. The embarkation was fantastic with quick friendly service. The veranda cabin was typical with cheap chairs and table on the balcony. The bathroom toilettes were non existent. You would getter soap at a Super 8 motel. The lovely shampoo pump in the shower goes to show how they are cutting corners. The entertainment in the lounges were very good. The Palace not so good with all the song and dance stuff. The cruise was a bit of a pain by constantly trying to upsell you on the casino and other venues. I guess that's part of his job. Now the dining room. This is definitely a 2.5 star restaurant. Poor quality and the selection could do with a refresh. The waitstaff were fantastic and must be embarrassed to serve these meals. I have noticed over the years there is a definite cut back on services and a strong effort to move you into the "For Pay" speciality restaurants. I was amazed to see how poorly some people dressed when going into the dining room. Why they are allowed in dressed in jeans and T shirts is beyond me Overall it was a good holiday but in future I will spend the extra few dollars and go with a better quality cruise line. In fairness I guess you can't expect them to provide a 5 star cruise for a 3 star price.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
We were quite excited about our 11 day New England/Canada cruise in September. We had been on the Explorer of the Seas back in 2002 when she was fairly new and quite grand. It is still a beautiful ship, but does have a number of issues. ... Read More
We were quite excited about our 11 day New England/Canada cruise in September. We had been on the Explorer of the Seas back in 2002 when she was fairly new and quite grand. It is still a beautiful ship, but does have a number of issues. Good thing she is headed to dry dock next year! The staff does work very hard to keep it clean and maintained. The bad: Mold/mildew in our bathroom. We became ill after day 3. Finally moved to a new room after complaining for days! Not even to a balcony room nor an apology! We did feel better a couple of days later! The main dining room service from our head waiter was slow, uneventful with mediocre food at best. He appeared bored and truly unhappy! We were always the last to be served in our area. Very disappointing! Our assistant waiter was professional and tried hard.....he should have been the head waiter. The food in the Windjammer is typical buffet food. Eat the salads or fruit and leave the overcooked entrees behind. Super expensive excursions that really don't offer much. Try not to do them if possible! The good: The evening shows were fun for the most part, the cruise director John, was super! The captain and crew did a marvelous job bringing us through some very windy conditions! The pool area was comfortable and clean! We played mini golf, saw movies, danced, enjoyed our table mates at dinner and loved being at sea together. Desserts at dinner were very good and the best part of the meal! The ports we visited were lovely and we would love to go back to many of them! Embarkation & disembarkation were very smooth!! Impressive! We still love cruising, but we will think twice about sailing with Royal Caribbean again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This is our second time of Royal Caribben and it was nice. The rooms were very clean and our cabin was quiet even through we were in the rear of the ship. It was a very pleasant experience overall but there were items I want to complain ... Read More
This is our second time of Royal Caribben and it was nice. The rooms were very clean and our cabin was quiet even through we were in the rear of the ship. It was a very pleasant experience overall but there were items I want to complain about based on this trip verses our first which was to Alaska. The food the first night we all thought was very good but then it all started tasting alike no matter what you ordered.. We had a hard time getting a reservation in MY TIME DINING which continued the whole trip. and in the end we no longer tried to get into the dining room but ate meals in the Windjammer which is the serve yourself location on the upper deck. Our main meals were eaten off the ship because we all wanted seafood (especially lobster) and it was only offered one night for an additional $14.00 on board ship. The ship also has several other specialty restaurants which we did not try but I understand from others it was almost impossible to get a reservation in them at a decent time. The entertainment was also a disappointment from our previous cruise. The comedian the first night was very good and not one swear or off color word to get a laugh. The juggler was alright but I did not care for any other entertainment. In the center of the ship they have an area called the Centrum which you can see from looking over a balcony from most floors and they feature a lot of entertainers here but very few people get to see anything. Poor planning and someday there will be someone who falls if they haven't already trying to get a better view. Beverages were also out of line in price. I did not take a cruise to drink but paying $9.00 for a glass of regular wine was too much. In fact everything on Royal Caribbean was double the price and I would recommend if you want to take a shore excursion you book your own after getting off the ship or on line ahead of time. We tried both and ones we booked were better. We highly recommend Jonathan Duru - Your Cab Bus & Van Tours (1-866-831-2277) for reservations or cell 902-209-3355 for your visit in Halifax He was very knowledgeable and accommodating to anything we wanted . He planned the tour around us and we had the best lobster right out of the ocean. Everyone always has complaints but learn from mine and you should have a great cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
Embarkation was really organized and fast. Ship was nice, we were in balcony cabin 9574. Nice views, Never met cabin steward, which we thought was odd. Room was always clean though. Hair dryer didn't work, got another one in an hour, ... Read More
Embarkation was really organized and fast. Ship was nice, we were in balcony cabin 9574. Nice views, Never met cabin steward, which we thought was odd. Room was always clean though. Hair dryer didn't work, got another one in an hour, refrigerator sounded like an airplane taking off at 2AM one night. Maintenance fixed it next day. MDR was okay...ordered chicken off classic menu 5 out of 7 nights. Husband loved having escargot every night. Buffet was better for me, we had more choices. Music was for older crowd. If you wanted to be asleep by 9PM or in Centrum it would be okay! Trivia was fun. Husband won $300 in casino. We spent most of our time there, nothing else to do at night. Ports were small & boring. Nothing to do but shop, which we both don't like to do. Didn't see any fall colors at all, more in CA than New England. Cruise was geared toward older crowd. We had the best time in Boston after the cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2013
This was our first cruise the good: We had Grand Suite with large balcony room was nice and the staff was very kind and helpful, food was good, the evenings shows whether magic, comedy or musicals were good. Halifax and Bar Harbour were ... Read More
This was our first cruise the good: We had Grand Suite with large balcony room was nice and the staff was very kind and helpful, food was good, the evenings shows whether magic, comedy or musicals were good. Halifax and Bar Harbour were especially great scenic ports of call. Portland and St Johns were okay, but did not compare. The bad; Music and day time entertainment on ship was dated and boring, we are in our 50s and daughter was 26 only heard one tune that was recent (post 2000), mostly from the 50s to 70s. TV programming was limited maybe 15 channels in English, everything repeated itself, same movies and documentaries, after 2 evenings we had seen it all. Nothing interested us very much during the day on the ship when not in a port of call we don't play bingo,not big gamblers or want to listen to dated music. Thank goodness for the gym and good weather so we could get out and exercise on the deck. The Internet was expensive but was of extremely poor quality, I mean dead.... dead .... slow, although its to their advantage since you pay by the minute starting at 65 cents/minute. When in a port we were the first ones off and near last ones back so we took advantage of everything to see. Lastly we paid our gratuities up front, almost $500 at 17% but on the last 2 days envelopes are left in our room and at the shows repeatedly encouraged to remember the staff, wait....wait that's why I paid up front, does the staff know we already paid?.....we left another $75 anyway, I hope the worker bees know this was on top of the $500! we did appreciate their service! Beds were comfortable but pillows were flat, I needed two to keep my head level. Bottom line we were happy to be back before Sandy hit.... will probably not be taking any cruises out of Baltimore anytime in the near future. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
I have now been on two cruises because my boyfriend's family has included me in their yearly family cruise. Our party consisted of My boyfriend's parents and my boyfriend and I and his brother (we three are in our mid thirties). ... Read More
I have now been on two cruises because my boyfriend's family has included me in their yearly family cruise. Our party consisted of My boyfriend's parents and my boyfriend and I and his brother (we three are in our mid thirties). I was always told that Royal Caribbean is supposed to be the industry best and since my first cruise (which was with Carnival) was so great, I was sure that despite the fact that it was going to be cold in New England and Canada in October, that this was going to be a great cruise because of the cruise line we were taking. We drove from Northern Virginia to the port (which we did before and was very easy) and carried our bags with us and waited in a moderate line to check in. Check in was smooth and worry free. When we got to the boat, there seemed to be a lot of confusion among passengers about what to do or where to go. Carrying my heavy bags up stairs was unpleasant for me but totally worth it to have my bags immediately and to be able to unpack and settle in. I expect a room on a cruise to be small but I guess I was just spoiled by the Carnival cruise we took last year where the room was quite large. Our large interior stateroom was painfully small and had unnecessary furniture in it to make it even smaller. Our room was right next to the ice room that the cabin stewards are in an out of all the time and every time the door shut, the entire adjoining wall shook. That noise started very early in the morning. We talked to our cabin steward about it and he apologized profusely and said he would talk to the other stewards but we observed he obviously can't control everyone. We (us three "kids") noticed immediately that there was a definite demographic on this cruise and we were not in it. The average age of cruisers seemed to be 60 or so. We didn't expect to see many kids since school was in session and we certainly didn't. I don't believe there were more than 10 kids on this boat. There were probably less than twenty people our age. That's ok for my boyfriend and I who spend most of the trip with each other, but a little boring for his brother. The ship seemed to be ready for this demographic and catered to it. There wasn't much for entertainment in 8 days. I believe that there were two comedians and one magician. Although I didn't attend, one of the comedians had a show in the 8 o'clock hour and was definitely adult humor. I am to understand that comedians usually do two shows, the first one earlier in the evening that is more family friendly and then one late that is very adult. It was never mentioned that this comedian was doing a very adult show and it was reported that many people got up and walked out. The person who announced him came out at the end and said "I guess I should have mentioned that he was doing an adult show". Some activities were cancelled and some were advertised at a certain time and then started much earlier disappointing some. We were told there was a rock climbing wall on the ship but that it was only open while we were in port and since there were so many older folks on the cruise, I don't think it got used much. There was no "Flow Rider" like I guess newer RC ships. No put-put course. I was concerned that swimming was going to be kind of hard because the main pools were on an outside deck and then I was assured by a Cruise Critic member that the ship had a retractable roof and that it would be closed if it was too cold for swimming. This was not the case. There was a pool in the adults only area but the pool was small and could get crowded easily. There are two pools and four hot tubs on the outside deck that were pretty much useless in the cold air. Dinner in the main dining room was unimpressive. The meals were never great but they were fine. Our waiter must have been new because he was a bit bumbling and had such a strong accent that he was VERY hard to understand. We didn't go to the dining room after the first couple of days unless there was something on the menu we really wanted. The buffet in the Windjammer was very good. There were specific staples they had every evening and then some really nice specials like made to order stir fry or make your own pizza and sushi. There was always someone there to help you to your table (which was needed with all the older folks) and as rough as the seas were the first full day at sea and they were constantly asking if they could bring you a drink and clearing the tables. One very disappointing issue was that the soft serve machine closed every day at 6:30pm. On our Carnival cruise last year, it was open all the time unless it was being cleaned and even then, there were two machines. The soft serve machine was pretty popular and extremely disappointing that it closed up so early. I guess they wanted everyone to go downstairs to the tiny Ben & Jerry's. Closing the machine did not make us want to go overpay of overrated ice cream. As for the ports, it seems that maybe they should cut off their trips to NE and Canada before October because it is so cold. When we got to Portland, it was so cold and wet that the fog covered the town and you pretty much couldn't see anything. Bar Harbor was a very nice place to visit however, it's not a good place for these older folks to get off the boat since you have to take a tender to the port. The tenders moved so much, it was quite scary to move from one boat to the other. One lady walked around the boat claiming that she had cracked her kneecap getting off the tender onto the ship. We took the historic lighthouse boat tour which was very nice but much too frigid. The man narrating this tour would take questions from passengers but wouldn't repeat the question over the loud speaker and then proceeded to answer the questions confusing the other passengers. I had meant to tell him that before getting off the boat. We did a little exploring around the town and shops which was nice. My boyfriend went out on his own and rented a bike and biked at least 12 miles uphill in Acadia. His body told him all about how he had abused it when he got back to the ship but it was worth it to him. I didn't get off the ship and go exploring in the last two ports of call - Saint John and Halifax because it was so cold and dreary. We were to have two days at sea after leaving Canada but on the evening of the first day someone (rumor had it) had a stroke and the captain put the ship at full speed and headed to Norfolk to let that passenger off. After that, the ship moved so slow back to Baltimore that you couldn't even tell we were moving. It was nice to have cell service since we were so close to land. Our cabin steward, Rodolpho, was the nicest guy and we made good friends with him. We found out all about his family and enjoyed seeing him every day. He also came in and cleaned the bathroom for us when my boyfriend got sick. He was the best! There was some confusion getting off the ship in the morning due to the amount of people carrying their luggage off and the fact that they weren't making it clear that there were two lines to check off but once we were off, it was smooth since we had parked there. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
Departed Port Liberty on Sept 21st for a 10 day cruise to Quebec City stopping at Portland, ME, Bar Harbor, ME and the Canadian Maritimes. This was the largest ship we had sailed with, the largest prior was 1200 passengers. Brilliance of ... Read More
Departed Port Liberty on Sept 21st for a 10 day cruise to Quebec City stopping at Portland, ME, Bar Harbor, ME and the Canadian Maritimes. This was the largest ship we had sailed with, the largest prior was 1200 passengers. Brilliance of the Seas was selected based upon the ports of call. The ship had just completed its repositioning from Denmark. We had seating at the first sitting for dinner, 5:30 PM which was a little early when returning from long shore excursions. Traveling with another couple, we began dinner by first ordering from the wine list. Our first three selections were not available. Reason given was the repositioning passengers had consumed all those bottles and the replacement container had not arrived from Miami. We ordered by the glass that evening and the wine both red and white not much better that a $6.95 local bottle of table wine. The next evening we looked at the "wine package" that was offered for sale. Of the eight types of reds, 3 were sold out. Our wine problem was solved after dining at two of the specialty restaurants aboard, the Chops Grille and Portofino. At both the food was excellent and they had their own wine list not available in the main dining room. We copied the numbers down of the wines we liked and when back dining at our table in the main dinning room, had our waiter go down to the Chops Grill or Portofino for our wines. Our waiters in the dining room were excellent. Unless changes are made, skip the wine packages. Main dining room food was only average, nothing to look forward to. Asked for olive oil to dip bread in and a medium store type bottle with label was placed on the table. Sorbet not available after the caesar salad and before the entre. We ate most of our breakfasts and lunches in the Windjammer Cafe. Food there was only FAIR and the same every day as far as we could tell. Layout of the Windjammer has everyone criss-crossing one another to get from one food station to another. After several days found where the quesants and salmon were hidden. Food very boring. Small bottles of both red and white wine were available for US$6. each, airline quality, and the caps were almost impossible to remove. This was noted by another reviewer. A number of other passengers who were frequent travelers with Royal Caribbean Lines had the same opinion of the food quality aboard. While the ship was VERY clean, one thing we noticed as seasoned seafarers was the lack of Purell sanitizers. There were some around, some worked and some didn't and at first when returning to ship from being ashore, none were available. Some later appeared. None when leaving the public restrooms aboard. Shore excursions need a major overhaul. Long expensive trips and saw very little except in Portland and Bar Harbor where the tour were excellent. One of our buses in the Maritimes held over 80 passengers. We arrived at the featured site of visit only to find 9 other buses discharging passengers. Never did get in the attraction. Enjoyed the Maritimes, but when we go back again, will either rent a car or have a private driver\guide. In summary, ship was too large for our enjoyment. Ship was clean, staff at all levels was excellent. Food and wines need MAJOR review by senior management. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
We sailed out of Port Liberty New Jersey. We were lucky to have a cabin with view towards New York City and this gave us a view of the new tower growing at 'Point Zero'. It's almost three quarters finished now. We could also ... Read More
We sailed out of Port Liberty New Jersey. We were lucky to have a cabin with view towards New York City and this gave us a view of the new tower growing at 'Point Zero'. It's almost three quarters finished now. We could also peak at the Statue of Liberty from a good vantage point. We arrived at the port directly from our same day Miami flight at about noon. Taxis at the airport were plentyful. There was only one person in front of us at the taxi line, so in a few minutes we doing 90 miles an hour towards the port and $60 later, we were walking towards the Royal Caribbean check-in agents which made us sign a self checked certificate of health, were we promissed to be free of diseases, or being recently sick. I wonder what they would do if anyone ever answers in the positive? After check-in and the required welcome aboard picture, we sat for about 1 hour waiting for our group number to be called, for the five minute busride to the ship. No amenities while waiting here and no actual order in which the numbers were called as different agents had their own ideas as to which number had been called last. Boarding the ship was effortless, and we found our cabin ready made and waiting for us at about 1:45pm, which was a great confort. We quickly ditched our carry on luggage and set out to explore the ship. The Brilliance, even though very well set up, it is showing it's age. We found lots of beautifull wood trims, and lots glass, and art throughout the ship. We sailed on time and before we new it, we were getting ready for cocktails, to wait for dinner call at one of the many watering holes. We decided on the Champaing Bar at mid ship. That became our pre dinner spot for the rest of the cruise. Although the drinks are on the expensive side, they were well made and they allways had complementary hot hourdeuvers and caviar. In spite of the many valiant efforts by our experienced waiters, dinner at the main dinning room was unremarkable. The food was predictable and on the bland side. Although abundant, there was a noticeable absence of premium dishes such as lobster or high quality fish and beef. Desserts were no better with the expected icecreams, cakes, and pastries. Don't go on the Solstice for the food. Perhaps the premium pay extra dinning rooms had better fare, we did not challenged them. Our cabin was as clean as you could make it, our attendant was excellent, keeping ice in our bucket always, and fresh towels and linens very clean. The balcony was excellent and a very much used space. The ports of call were average, and some times we docked far from the city center needing a shuttle. I recall in Bar Harbor an excellent two and a half hour trolley tour do not miss it, it's very worth it's price. If you plan to rent a car in port, do make advance reservations, car are few at the NE ports and more so at the smaller cities like Gaspe, and Bar Harbor. When we got to Quebec, there were two lines at the terminal. One for bus transport and one for taxis. Do try to get bus transport, or arrange for a limo in advance as getting a taxi at the port of Quebec is absolute madness. Our taxi line snaked all over the Quebec terminal, for two hour before we reached our turn. It is absolutely unacceptable and a real downer to end a "good" cruise this way. It left us with a bad taste to say goodby this way. Over all a good cruise, plenty of pretty public rooms to hang out in, a good spa, do try the sauna and steam room. Entertainment, although an excellent cruise director and staff, was below par. Do not go to this criuse for the entertainment, gof ro the relaxation time. good luck to you future Brilliance sailors. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
It would be incorrect to say that our recent voyage aboard Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas was the worst cruise experience we have endured. That honor still belongs to a Carnival cruise to Mexico that we took a few years ago. This ... Read More
It would be incorrect to say that our recent voyage aboard Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas was the worst cruise experience we have endured. That honor still belongs to a Carnival cruise to Mexico that we took a few years ago. This trip, however, was a far cry from the fabulous cruise experiences offered by some of the better cruise lines such as RCI's sister company, Azamara. To be fair, RCI does not pretend to be in the same class as Azamara , Oceana or some of the other premium cruise lines. On the other hand, RCI should recognize that many of its passengers are really turned off by their al-la-carte pricing approach, by which just about everything available on board, other than the cabin and basic meals, costs extra. I spoke to dozens of passengers who felt the same as I on this subject. Also missing on this ship are some of the little things, such as having hand cream, shampoo, etc. in the cabins. This is surprising because even the lowest priced budget motels commonly make these necessities available. The ladies in our group particularly missed not having a chocolate morsel on the pillow every night. Sadly, this customer comfort is not feature that is offered on the Jewel of the Seas. I can understand charging extra for a meal in the specialty restaurants, ($40 per person), or for a glass of beer or wine at the bar, ($7 plus 15% mandatory gratuity), but charging for a cup of espresso at dinner seems downright ridiculous. Even bottled water in the cabins was an extra charge item, ($3.95). The cruise line did come through with some free drinking water, however, when the folks in the cabin next to ours discovered that the water coming out of the faucet in their bathroom was black and foul smelling. Another nearly universal complaint from most of the passengers I spoke with has to do with the RCI policy of strictly enforcing their ban against passengers bringing their own liquor on board. The goal is obviously to make the guests spend money in the bar but frisking passengers who come on board after a day ashore is pretty low class and does not contribute positively to a guest's cruise experience. My wife and I like to have a glass of wine in our cabin from time to time. (On other cruise lines, we bring our favorite wines on board at the start of the cruise or pick up something interesting in the ports of call.) RCI offers some overpriced wine packages intended for guests who want wine at dinner. We purchased one of those packages but had the waiter bring us our daily bottle at the end of the meal so we could take it to our cabin. Our $135, 5 bottle package contained several wines that I have purchased previously at my local discount wine store for less than $4 a bottle. Quite a markup if you ask me. The last three or four cruises that my wife and I have been on all provided complimentary wine or beer with lunch and dinner. The wines were not expensive but they were quite good most of the time. I think that I speak for many who cruise regularly when I say that I would prefer to pay a few dollars more for the cruise if it meant including the features mentioned above and minimizing the number of times that I have to reach into my wallet while onboard. Our week on the Jewel of the seas was not all bad. I would like to make it very clear that while many of RCI's policies are objectionable, the staff on this ship was excellent. Almost without exception, every crew member I met was friendly and happy to do just about anything to help ensure their guest's comfort. The ship itself was spotless and well maintained. Our cabin was small and spartan, but comfortable. There were plenty of onboard activities designed to keep the campers busy. I have been told that the evening's entertainment was very good. Unfortunately, since we had the 8:30 seating for dinner, by the time we were finished eating, we were usually too tired to go see the shows. This ship offered two meal seatings, 5:30, which is too early and 8:30 which is too late. It was somewhat disappointing that this ship did not offer an "open seating" option in the dining room. I did get to enjoy some of the other shipboard entertainment, however. Several excellent musicians and bands played throughout the day in the small venues. Some of these entertainers were so good that I would have happily paid to see them perform on land. Our cruise traveled from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia, the last week of October. We had hoped that we would be treated to some spectacular fall foliage while visiting the ports of call. Apparently 2011 was a subpar year, foliage-wise. The locals said that the warm wet weather just prior to the foliage season caused many of the trees to go from green to brown without putting on much of a show. Every now and then we would run into a tree or two that did not get the memo about this being a muted color year. These trees were spectacular. I can only imagine what this region must look like during a good foliage season. We stayed in Boston for two days prior to boarding the ship. I had injured my leg a couple of days before this trip so waking around Boston and the other towns we were going to visit promised to be a bit of a challenge. While in Boston, we purchased a two day pass on the Old Town Trolley, which allowed us on and off privileges anywhere along the tour route. Given my gimpy status, this was a lifesaver. We were able to tour Boston at our leisure, getting off the trolley to check out individual sites whenever we wanted. This trolley even has a route that goes near the cruise terminal. The driver was kind enough to take us and our luggage all the way to the ship. Very impressive. I highly recommend that anyone visiting Boston consider including an Old Town Trolley tour as part of their visit. Even without the fall foliage, we enjoyed our visits ashore in most of the ports. Fortunately, just as in Boston, we discovered some excellent and reasonably priced "Trolley" tours in Portland and Bar Harbor. The drivers took us around the towns and to places far beyond walking distance for even the healthiest of tourists. Throughout the tours the drivers pointed out the interesting and historical places while providing an entertaining narration. As is the case with all vacations, this one eventually came to an end. The last night we went to the onboard shops looking for a suitable gift for the neighbor who had been watching our pets while we were away. We settled on a nice bottle of Scotch. Not being Scotch drinkers we asked the shop keeper for a recommendation. He was quite helpful and given that they had signs all over the place guarantying that their prices were guarantied to be the lowest anywhere, we felt good about our purchase. When we returned home we went shopping at our local Trader Joes and were surprised to find that this store sold the same bottle of Scotch for about 20% less. Costco was even lower, beating the Trader Joe's price by several dollars. So much for the "Lowest Prices Anywhere". It was only about ten dollars but I really hate getting ripped off. If you get nothing else of value out of this review, hopefully you will learn from our mistake and stear clear of the shipboard vendors on RCI cruises. So how would I rate this cruise? I would give the ports of call a solid 7, interesting but not anything that would blow you away. The exception is Boston, which deserves a 10+. We will certainly be returning to Boston again one of these days as landlubber tourists. The other ports are a bit touristy, especially if you limit your visit to the places close to the cruise terminal. The Jewel of the Seas is a decent ship. A little big for my taste, but other than no open seating at dinner, it was OK. I would give it a 7 as well. The staff and crew get solid 10s, as does the shipboard entertainment that we were able to see. The food was variable, sometimes excellent and sometimes barely edible. At one dinner the chef's recommendation was French onion soup. Most of the people at our table ordered it. No one ate more than a couple spoonfuls. If you like your beef medium rare, be sure to order medium, as the kitchen's idea of medium rare is basically slightly warmed up raw meat. Not once during the week did a baked potato arrive at our table fully cooked. On the positive side, most of the fish entries were quite good as was just about everything served in the Windjammer buffet. I particularly enjoyed the simple fish and chips served in the the snack bar on the top deck at the stern of the ship. I am not much of a desert fan but for those who are, this ship will be heaven. The reports I received from the desert eaters was that every offering was better than the next. I even tried a few and they were great. Assuming that all the ships in the RCI stable exercise the same passenger unfriendly policies that we experienced on this trip, I have to give the RCI line a 3 and that is probably a bit generous. With all the great cruising options out there, it is highly unlikely that we will find ourselves on another RCI ship anytime soon. This is by far the most negative cruise review that I have ever written. That is unfortunate, but I call 'em as I see 'em. Hopefully someone from RCI will read this and take note. Bob Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
So we decided to try cruising again and chose the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas because the dates, embarkation port and the ports of call matched what we wanted to do. But we had no idea we were sailing with the "No You ... Read More
So we decided to try cruising again and chose the Royal Caribbean Jewel of the Seas because the dates, embarkation port and the ports of call matched what we wanted to do. But we had no idea we were sailing with the "No You Can't" cruise line.... Jewel of the Seas is a beautiful ship with lots of light, space and lovely areas to relax. The crew was uniformly wonderful - attentive, polite and professional. But the RCI rules were frustrating and insulting. First, my husband about blew a gasket when he found I had booked us on a ship that would not allow him to take his favorite single-malt scotch on board. He isn't much of a drinker, but relaxing at the end of the evening with a really good Islay scotch is his thing - and there was no such thing aboard this ship. Their best $15 a shot whisky is a very middle of the road drink that just annoyed him more than anything else. I had traipsed across Boston to buy a rare special whisky for him, just in case it would be let through by a sympathetic screener, but no such luck. We had to go to the "naughty room" to have it confiscated for the duration of the cruise. If they are going to be so stringent, they should at least offer something worthwhile to drink on board! Secondly, we purchased the top of the line wine package, but could only get a bottle of wine from room service or in a dining room. No relaxing with a bottle in a lounge chair unless you want to wait for room service, then carry a bottle and glasses through a pitching ship. Generally, we confined our wine consumption to dinner, but it still would have been nice to have the option. This same obsession with restricting alcohol seemed to cause lots of holdups and delays when re-boarding after a port stop, as well. Besides checking every bag for booze (I don't think they were worried about more serious items) they spent a ridiculous amount of time arguing with people who wanted to bring their partially consumed drinks back on board. What a waste of time and effort. Food: Food was mediocre in both the main dining room and the buffet. The only dishes with any flavor at all in the MDR were the soups - which were always good. The Seaview Cafe food was very "fast-foodish" and there was no tea or coffee available there(?!?) Portofino was TERRIBLE! Bad food and worse service. I ate two bites of my entree and was never even asked how it was nor was any comment made upon removal of the dishes. Chops, however, was very good. Again, the soups were outstanding and the steaks excellent. (Back on the wine rant...when in Portofino, I asked to buy a wine listed on the MDR menu every night. They couldn't figure how to do that!) Room service food was quite good, but menu choices were very limited. Cabin: Small, but adequate and very comfortable. Our excellent cabin steward kept it spotless but had to literally smuggle us robes under an extra blanket, because "they are kept only for Diamond and Platinum members". Entertainment: Did not attend any shows, but the musicians performing around the ship were always great. We especially enjoyed the classical guitarist and the Black Pearl Strings duo when they performed serious pieces, but it seems they were told to primarily concentrate on elevator music...Lots of fun and games throughout the ship that drew lots of participation. 70s night and Karaoke were a hoot! Spa: Bought a couple of day passes for the Thermal Suite, which is lovely, but who decided that each of the five thermal lounges should be at a different temperature? No one wanted the two coldest chairs, so people just perched and jumped like fleas on a dog whenever anyone on one of the three warmest chairs even twitched like they might move. And the warmest chair was so hot it burned any flesh not lying on a towel. Why not just permit users to select their own temperature so each chair can be used and enjoyed??? I indulged in a reflexology treatment that might have been very nice had the therapist's very long, hard thumbnails dug into my feet. Ports of Call: We caught the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia, so Portland was a deluge, and the weather was not much better at the other stops. But the excursions seemed to be very well planned and were as enjoyable as could be expected under such weather conditions. All in all, a so-so experience. If we ever cruise again, we will save up for Crystal or Seaborne! Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
OK, this was my first time on this cruise itinerary, boring! The ship could have left me in Bar Harbor for what is was worth. This was the most boring cruise that I have ever been on! The people, older crowd, were all in bed every night by ... Read More
OK, this was my first time on this cruise itinerary, boring! The ship could have left me in Bar Harbor for what is was worth. This was the most boring cruise that I have ever been on! The people, older crowd, were all in bed every night by 10:00pm. The crap table was hardly ever open on ship due to lack of activity. Ports: Portland a nice city port BarHarbor: One of the MOST beautiful places I have ever been too. St Johns: You have GOT to be kidding!! I LOVE Canada, but this is NO vacation spot. Why would any ship ever stop here?? It offered zero on the excursion we took.....boring, dirty, old, falling apart port city. They should spend two nights in BarHarbor. Halifax: Nice stop, of course great people. Did I say I love Canada?? This was my first time on an inside room on RCCL, second in my life. Room was acceptable, small but adequate. The beds?? HARD AS A ROCK!! And I mean HARD!! They did bring us an eggcrate topper which helped immensely. The Crew: This is where RCCL really shines! The best, plain and simple. Portifinos: We ate there on night 4, dinner was good, steak was fantastic, appetisers were tasteless. All in all, I still had a good time and a $400 bar bill;)The ship nickle and dimes us on every corner, perhaps they might consider cutting their 45% cut on excursions so that we may enjoy the cruise and attend more often... Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
My husband and I went on 9 day cruise to New England & Canada, sailing from Bayonne NJ on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. We drove to NJ and stayed in Newark the night before. Hotel offered free parking during cruise, but ... Read More
My husband and I went on 9 day cruise to New England & Canada, sailing from Bayonne NJ on Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas. We drove to NJ and stayed in Newark the night before. Hotel offered free parking during cruise, but we needed to pay additional $40 each way for driver to transport us to/from embarkation location. Process was easy and uncomplicated. Boarding ship was orderly and quick. Be prepared with boarding paperwork and ID in hand to help avoid delays. Also, baggage tags should be on luggage before arriving at port since baggage handlers will quickly collect your bags from the shuttle bus or taxi. Lunch was readily available and plentiful once on ship. We managed a window seat without much effort, but it is nice to finish and allow others a chance to enjoy window once you're done with the meal. Food was hot, appealing. Not very exciting selection, but adequate to get everyone fed in due order. We were able to go to our staterooms early which was great. Until emergency drill, travelers can explore ship, but then must report to assigned muster areas. Info is announced over loud speakers as well as on boarding paperwork. If there are questions, room stewards are available and assisting with process. If you do not want to deal with stairs, use elevator early to reach your assigned area. Exercise is not very long, but you must stand out on open deck while being given emergency instructions. It happened to be pouring rain during our drill, but only the crew was getting wet since they had to stand out by railing. Free beverage selection was limited on this cruiseship. There was coffee, tea selection, hot chocolate, weak lemonade, water, unsweetened tea, and a not-so-pleasant vitamin water offered during buffet meals. Off hours, free beverages are located on the Promenade ... but it took us a couple of days to locate it, unlike Carnival cruises. There was also no lemonade or vitamin water off hours. Of course, cruisers can buy soda or wine plans ... very expensive. Unless you buy more than a couple of a sodas a day, it is cheaper just to buy a soda when you want one. Beverages are available throughout the ship and at performances ... and easily charged to your account. Alchoholic drinks are worthwhile ... I particularly enjoyed the MUDSLIDE. They also make an excellent virgin Pina Colada. Our interior cabin was quite small. There was no room to walk around to sides of bed, so if you are not able to easily get to your spot by crawling from end of bed ... you should get bigger stateroom! My husband and I will not tackle this again. Two people can not easily get dressed at the same time either, since there was so little room especially with small coffeetable in middle. Suitcases fit well under bed. Closet and drawer space was plentiful ... with numerous crannies for extra stuff. Recommend bringing a power strip for anything you need to plug in, like computers, cell phones, etc. There were 2 plugs in middle of room and that is it. Hairdryer had its own connection in drawer where it was located. For people with arthritis in their hands/shoulders, this could be a bit of a problem. Cord was not long and has to be stretched a little .. plus hand must hold down control to keep dryer turned on to dry hair. Bed was extremely hard. When I called for help, steward brought an egg crate pad; however, pad was extremely thin and even when doubled, was not much of a cushion. I DO NOT RECOMMEND PEOPLE WITH ARTHRITIS BOOK AN INTERIOR CABIN!!! Another issue we had with interior cabin ... we had no idea what time of day it was. Cabin was very dark with lights out, at any time of day. I had brought a small nightlight which used one of our 2 electrical plugs in the middle of the room. But outside light was blocked totally. There was no other means of night light. So, we had to use a cell phone to wake us for programs and breakfast instead of waking up naturally to light of some sort. Service throughout ship was outstanding! Dining room staff was especially terrific and bent over backwards to meet our needs and exceed our expectations in a delightful way. We easily bonded with our servers and were quite happy with their ways of pleasing us. We recommend tipping them extra for all their hard work and care to making the cruise great. By the way, it is not necessary to wear formal wear on the two formal dinners. We dressed nice, business casual and fit in well. Some people really enjoyed tuxes and dress-up, but none of our table members went that route. Performances were outstanding. We enjoyed them all. Attending the ice show was a treat. Suggest getting your seat well in advance of the show ... we went early and enjoyed a drink, getting to know the servers and watching the crowd come into the theaters. Process of leaving the ship was more lengthy. We were given assigned departure time and went to a designated area, but once our group was called, process went smoothly and without much hassle. Access to ground transportation was easy and expedient. Finding our luggage was not difficult. Although we hauled our own bags, there were porters everywhere to help. Next time, we will do that. About mid-trip, the ship offered a $25 special for washing things like underwear, pajamas, shorts, t-shirts. A bag was left in the cabin ... $25 for as much as would fit. Other items would be washed at prevailing rate. Anytime, laundry services are available, but it was costly. A couple of glasses were available in cabin bathroom, but we got plastic glasses from Promenade beverages to use in room. Tap water tasted great ... as did water at beverage location. We never tried room service since our room was not comfortable for lounging. Also, food was readily available and we were full from our meals. Promenade beverage location also has other free desserts, pastries, fresh fruit, pizza, cookies. Due to the bed, we probably will not cruise again with Royal Caribbean. More costly staterooms appeared to have better beds, but we were distressed that lesser beds would be provided in any room. Also, we were young (55-58) compared to majority on this cruise. Average age was between 65 and 85. Many scooters, wheelchairs and walkers. We only saw a few teenagers and a handful of little children. For most part, this was not an issue since we were relaxing, but older cruisers were slow and clogged the elevators throughout the cruise. I guess this was a benefit to help us burn calories. During bad weather, top decks may be closed. We had rain most of trip and ran through effects of hurricane, so using upper decks for pingpong, wall climbing, roller blading, etc was difficult if not closed entirely. Spa was extremely expensive. During port days, there are bargain prices, but still expensive. We had a wonderful time, but likely will not return to Royal Caribbean. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
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