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211 Royal Caribbean Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

We decided to opt for the cruise as we wanted to sail into Boston & New York. Boarding at Southampton was straightforward, the staff friendly and helpful. We chose a Junior suite on deck 9, and have no complaints about the state ... Read More
We decided to opt for the cruise as we wanted to sail into Boston & New York. Boarding at Southampton was straightforward, the staff friendly and helpful. We chose a Junior suite on deck 9, and have no complaints about the state of the room and our SRA, Roberto "Bobby" Orr was an excellent attendant. His friend Greg Taylor, although not in our section, was also very pleasant and both engaged in conversation whenever they met us. Bobby knew that we were early risers, so our room was always cleaned by the time we returned from breakfast. As we are experienced Diamond Plus members, we know the menu very well, so we did not always dine in the MDR . Our servers on deck 3, Valentin & Tatiana, were delightful people. Tatiana ( Brazil), also worked in the Windjammer in the mornings, so she often engaged with us. She had a very infectious smile, was always ready to help, and was helpful without being overbearing. The other very personable crew member was Flavio ( India ), who was our drinks server in the Star lounge when used as the Concierge lounge. He was constantly on the go, never tiring, always attentive to our table of 4, and knew our orders nightly. Alan, the Diamond Concierge on this cruise, was present at the entrance to the lounge, but with the number of people present could not engage with everyone. The suite Concierge lounge was also used, although we went only one night, as we found it too crowded, preferring the space in the Star lounge. We didn't think the selection of food in here, was a good as we have had on other ships, but we always found something to eat, if only fruit & cheese. We have yet to see the Captain, or senior officers,walking around the ship or in the Star lounge, and he didn't have a Captain's Corner, even on the crossing. His noon reports were dull at best, and unless you were a mariner, they meant little. Other Captains have introduced some humour and relevant information during their reports, some made several announcements during the day, not on here....the basic info regarding position, in degrees & minutes, sea depth, wave height, wind direction, temperature, sunrise time and sunset. All of this we could read for ourselves on the tv channel with the camera at the bow of the ship. Smoking was banned on the last two formal nights, when we went which was good. We wish it was banned completely in here, as is the case on the Independence, which is proving a great success. Our main complaint, and we know we are not alone, was when we arrived at Boston. A printed schedule was given to all passengers, which stated when we had to go to the dining room for immigration process, according to our muster station. Simple, straightforward & easy to adhere to..Wrong ! The US citizens were processed quickly, & the CD called their muster station numbers frequently. Meanwhile non US citizens had to wait. When our allotted time came, we went to deck 5. Well, the queue was the full length of the promenade and then more, as well as in the dining room. Canadians were also in the line, which seemed odd, especially when everyone was told they had to complete either green or white forms, or both. As UK visitors required an ESTA, the green form seemed pointless, but no, everyone had first to seek out the forms, then complete them. Were these required ? No. The result was that almost everyone, not on a ships excursion, had to wait for about 3 hours, or more to be processed. The ship indicated that the problem lay with the Immigration officers, as they were taking so long with each person. We were dealt within about 30 seconds, once called forward. The Officers themselves said it was a mess & didn't know why. The problem ? The ship wasn't organised and after the CD announced the first two muster station numbers, he fell silent, so it was everyone for themselves. The young, inexperienced staff members in attendance, did not know what they were doing. On complaining to Guest Services, their reaction was that they understood, but did nothing...a complete waste of time. We gave a formal complaint to Alan, Concierge, who informed us immediately, that he had forwarded it to a senior officer. That was the last we heard from anyone. We had fully expected to hear from the said officer, but can only presume he was inundated with so many complaints, he was unable to get back to everyone. To add insult to injury, every passenger, including US citizens, was given one free drink voucher...Wow, that really compensated for a missed day in Boston. On that point, some people completely lost out on seeing Boston, but we had a couple of hours, racing around the city, doing as much as possible in the time left. Unfortunately, as I cannot stand for any length of time, whilst waiting to be seen by immigration, I had to keep finding a seat, but there were not many available on the Royal promenade. The outcome was that I suffered severe back pain, so our short time in Boston was not a pleasant experience, but at least managed to see part of it. We felt sorry for most of the crew, as they had a Coastguard inspection, on top of everything else they had to do. This meant we were delayed by about 2 hours before departing. Had everyone known we were going to have an additional couple of hours in port, people could have salvaged something from the day. The Captain could have easily announced he was staying a little longer to compensate for the tardiness in clearing immigration. This has happened on other ships, when there has been a delay, for whatever reason. We felt that the majority of crew were not nearly as friendly as we have encountered on all other cruises. This could be the result of being based at Southampton for the entire summer season ! The ambience of the ship stems from the Captain & senior officers. This Captain only arrived a week before the cruise started, so he was not tired, just apparently disinterested. We felt that this ship lacked something, which we have not experienced on any other RCCL ship. We would not say we did not enjoy the cruise, because we always try to make the best of everything. The weather during the crossing was not the best, in fact some days were pretty bad, but no one can legislate for the weather ! We were fortunate that our balcony was like a sun trap, when the sun did appear, so we spent much time there, reading. New York was a good experience & were glad to have had an overnight there, meaning we could head out early on the second day and make the most of our time in the city. The berthing of the ship here was superb, being right in the heart if things, not Bayonne, well within walking distance of many of the sights. We went to Ground Zero, but took the subway, as it is far too far to walk to. This place is so moving & a must to visit,if possible. Disembarking at Miami was simple, & we got our cases immediately we got off, as they were on the carousel as we walked towards it ! Fortunately, we stayed a few days in Miami, so were not immediately taken to the airport, instead managed to get to our hotel early, checked in & enjoyed a lovely few days in comfort. We are hoping that now that the ship is based in Miami & the heat, the atmosphere on board will be better. RCCL ought to know what to expect at the first port in the US, so please, learn from this bad experience, rectify the problem, so that it is not repeated, ruining what should have been an enjoyable cruise. We know we are not the only people to complain. Several US citizens on board actually apologised for the bad management, and said that had certain crew been in their managed Company, they would be now be looking for another job !!! We had already booked another cruise on this ship, prior to boarding, so hope that our next cruise, very soon, will not be tarnished by incompetency. As stated earlier, we hope that now the ship is back in the US, the majority of crew will be more upbeat. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Check in at Southampton was excellent, fast and efficient was able to upgrade our drinks package at the port which saved time on ship. We were pleased with our cabin, it was a good size and we had an excellent cabin steward. I had ... Read More
Check in at Southampton was excellent, fast and efficient was able to upgrade our drinks package at the port which saved time on ship. We were pleased with our cabin, it was a good size and we had an excellent cabin steward. I had ordered champagne and strawberries to sail away (which was a good job as the sail away party was non existent) to receive the strawberries at 8pm that night? The fridge was a waste of time, it was warmer than the cabin itself. We were blessed with good weather for the muster which was a good thing as it took forever and we were stood outside. The entertainment was appalling, it is a good job we like each other's company as you would have been completely bored. Unless you love quizzes there is practically nothing going on in the day other than paid activities ( we did a couple of wine tastings and a sushi class which were great but obviously at a cost). The shows consisted of singers and one (poor) comedian. Having been on NCL the previous month they had a much better variety of entertainment and we just didn't bother in the end. Now for the food, my husband and I are big foodies and had booked the 5 night dining package and the murder mystery night. Again, having been on NCL the month before & having sailed on the Ovation in April we were expecting much better things. I understand that the length of the cruise meant that a lot of food would be frozen but I don't think in the MDR we had a meal where we all didn't leave at least one course each (we did send back at the start but gave up because it was never any better) it was like being presented with school dinners and the last night my husband was given a fish course straight out of the bargain frozen section of any supermarket, it was actually shocking it was so bad. I would have been ashamed to serve up some of the pasta options. The Windjammer was in a word inedible, we tried three times and in the end I think I would just rather go hungry. The promenade cafe did bland pizza and sandwiches but as non meat eaters there was a fish option just the once and no variation at all. Chops Grille, don't bother - again I understand that food has to be frozen but frozen chips? They were disgusting. Izumi the sushi was good but the rice with the hot rock was stone cold, as we had to pay over our dining package for this it was not really acceptable. Giovanni's food was definitely the best and we had two very good meals here, however the Murder Mystery night whilst entertaining did not offer the same standard. We dined in the Mexican for an indian cookery demonstration which we enjoyed but cant comment on the normal menu. The internet was a joke, just didn't work. Customs at Boston was a nightmare, we had two hours off the ship. I know a lot of this is down to US immigration but Royal Caribbean could have done so much to help, forms in the room prior to getting down to the Promenade, actually controlling the line - we waited for our muster station to be called (and we had 9.50 so one of the firsts) to find everyone had ignored it anyway as were one of the last to be off. Those things are controllable and it is not acceptable to just blame the authorities. Loved New York, fast, efficient getting on and off the ship and in the perfect spot. Took a Royal Caribbean trip at Port Canaveral for an airboat ride and had excellent service, we were really pleased with this. So we enjoyed the trip, the staff onboard were excellent and the drinks package offered great value for money but as for food and entertainment I would not rate it above 2 stars. Honestly at times it was inedible and we were shocked at how bad it was, cheap, bland and served by chefs who obviously do not bother tasting their work or have no interest in it as it was actually laughable what was being served up. As for the entertainment, I don't know what they were paying the cruise director for as I think running pub quizzes is hardly taxing, we enjoyed the Promenade party and the odd times they did activities there but they seemed more interested in selling market tat than actually giving us something to do on a long sea crossing. Would do transatlantic again, not sure I would with Royal Caribbean though, we have a transpacific booked with them and I hope that this cruise was a one off for standards as if it is the same then that will be the last sailing we take with them. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was my first transatlantic cruise and I loved it!!! I am only giving it a three star rating for the following reasons: We had a balcony stateroom. The shower smelled of mildew!!! One of the drawers in the desk was full of ... Read More
This was my first transatlantic cruise and I loved it!!! I am only giving it a three star rating for the following reasons: We had a balcony stateroom. The shower smelled of mildew!!! One of the drawers in the desk was full of crumbs. The toilet was stained with black marks which came with an accompanying letter that No amenities unless asked for - just two bars of soap and a "one gel does all dispenser", I guess this was shampoo, conditioner, bath gel all rolled into one. I got better amenities at a two star hotel in Southampton, UK. The entertainment left a lot to be desired. The individual entertainers were very good (except for the magician who I wouldn't hire for a children's birthday party), and the ice skating show was lovely. The ship's band which accompanied the individual entertainers was also good. The ship's entertainment crew (those young boys and girls who sing and prance and dance) were horrible. The noise level was much higher than the talent level!!! The movies shown on the ship were geared to a very young audience. Most of the cruisers were middle-age and above. So what was the point of that???? I don't know who was responsible for the fiasco in Boston. There were maybe three passport control people to process 3,000 travelers. Some people never made it off the ship!!!! In 13 days of sailing, I did not see the captain once!!! All that being said, the housekeeping staff and the dining staff were wonderful!!!! I would love to do another transatlantic next year (southern route, not northern route), but would try to find a different ship. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We have cruised on RCCL for many years and although have not reached pinnacle status, we have 500+ points. We were extremely disappointed with the disorganization we observed during this cruise. The debacle in Boston was unforgivable and ... Read More
We have cruised on RCCL for many years and although have not reached pinnacle status, we have 500+ points. We were extremely disappointed with the disorganization we observed during this cruise. The debacle in Boston was unforgivable and giving each passenger a drink ticket, added insult to injury. It was absolutely heartbreaking viewing the hundreds of elderly persons on walkers and canes standing in the extremely long lines for endless hours. The crew did nothing to organize, assist or make the process more humane. The public restrooms onboard the ship were unsanitary as some of the toilets were unflushed and unwashed, the wastepaper baskets were continuously full of paper towels and I cannot recall one time where this was not the issue. We never saw an attendant, which is very unusual, cleaning the restrooms. The woman's locker room/shower/spa area was flooded for several days, with as much as 1 inch of water on floor and instead of having an attendant mopping the area, a sign was placed to be careful of wet floor. This extremely dangerous situation went on for several days even though it was reported. The food was mediocre, the selection was poor and I must say that eating in Chops and Giovanni's several times during our cruise was disappointing. I sent back my very thin, overcooked lamb chops twice and finally decided to just accept the fact that this was going to be as good as it gets. We are grateful for having the amenities (although some have disappeared over the years) and could not believe the embarrassing process of locked doors until after 5:00 in the temporary diamond lounge on deck 5. We attempted to use the concierge lounge several times but there was very limited space even thought we arrived prior to 5:00. On the arrival into New York, we went to the Diamond Lounge on deck 14 only to find it stacked with dirty dishes and silverware. Not one crew member was present during the 2 and a half hours we were there. My husband called three times to report the unsanitary condition and was told that someone would be there to correct the situation yet that never happened. The internet service was the worst experience ever and the excuses given were ridiculous. This was our 13th Transatlantic cruise and we had never experienced such inconsistent service for days on end. We had business to conduct as well as staying in touch with family members but were unable to do so. We want to remain loyal to Royal but are so saddened by this experience and would hope that these serious issues be viewed by management. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We sailed in October on the Navigator, and hoped this cruise would be an improvement. We had been looking forward to this cruise particularly visiting Boston which neither of us had been to. We usually have an inside cabin but on this ... Read More
We sailed in October on the Navigator, and hoped this cruise would be an improvement. We had been looking forward to this cruise particularly visiting Boston which neither of us had been to. We usually have an inside cabin but on this occasion we decided to have a virtual balcony cabin, we are still uncertain if we liked it or not. in my honest opinion it was a bit of something and nothing. Sailing and embarkation in Southampton was easy and we were quite quickly on board. ...... We opted for first sitting in the main dining room on a table for 6 we were lucky in our dining companions, and the waiter and assistant waiter were fabulous... nothing was too much trouble...all requests dealt with efficiently and promptly. The food however was uninspiring and bland, particularly the desserts. The same applied also to the buffet restaurant the Windjammer, which in addition was very repetitive. ... Now to lead onto the sailing, showing films on deck in November on a Transatlantic sailing, was a particularly ridiculous idea, why the theatre could not have been utilized I can't understand. Daytime activities were dire and sadly lacking. The bands were excellent but again the band in the Star lounge repeated the same songs every night. The ports of call should have been the high spots after an 8 day spent cruising, but enough has been said by other reviewers about our arrival in Boston we only managed to walk around the port in the time allocated, and then we suffered the indignity of leaving late. The captain giving everyone a free drink was not good enough to make up for this, particularly as many people had purchased the drinks package, and some like us do not drink. New York was excellent. Port Canaveral was too far from anywhere to walk. Miami was interesting although we were shuttled to the airport many hours before our 10pm flight, with no lounges or anywhere to eat until you went through the departure gate. To add insult to injury on return home our Visa bill has shown a deduction from the ship for minibar use...yes I queried it and yes it has been removed, but how many passengers bills has this been applied to, and how many people have not noticed. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We chose this cruise because we have never been to New York when we embarked and got to the cabin there was dust all on the ledges mirrors not cleaned lots of things wrong over the 13 days. 6 sea days with not much to do in the day ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we have never been to New York when we embarked and got to the cabin there was dust all on the ledges mirrors not cleaned lots of things wrong over the 13 days. 6 sea days with not much to do in the day time.Evening shows good. Service in bars bad not enough staff most times you had to go to the bar then they have the cheek to charge you 18% service charge. Got to Boston what a mess that was we were told we would be called by our muster station number to go through immigration 6 officers for over 5000 people we were due to go at 10 30amgot through immigration at 3 15pm so no time to get off the ship there were loads of us that never got off. We booked a open top bus trip in Miami bus tour then drop off at the airport 3 hrs later we were still waiting for our luggage off the ship so missed this trip. The dining room staff were the best always happy food not up tp previous standard this has been our 6th cruise with this company and our last Drinks were stupid prices $24for two drinks if you brought drinks package it worked out about $1600 for a couple. New York was hectic very interesting plus very warm. All in all not our best cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
This was our second transatlantic on RCI. In comparing to our last RCI transatlantic on Mariner OTS in 2013, we noticed quite a few changes......some not for the better. OVERALL: Just average. No WOW factor that Royal uses in their ... Read More
This was our second transatlantic on RCI. In comparing to our last RCI transatlantic on Mariner OTS in 2013, we noticed quite a few changes......some not for the better. OVERALL: Just average. No WOW factor that Royal uses in their marketing. We traveled with another couple who had been on only one other cruise on Carnival. (They thought all cruises involved screaming children, belly flop contests at the pool, excessive drinking, etc.) We bragged how much better Royal was in areas such as food, ambiance, service, etc. After this cruise, we are not sure our neighbors will travel with us again. We came in to Rome 4 days early. Great idea to acclimate to the time zone and tour Rome. Highly recommended. We took the Leonardo Express train from the airport and walked to our hotel not far from Termini Station. We packed using a wheeled duffle and a backpack. Easy to get around. If you pack with less mobile luggage, you may want to rethink. Quite a bit of walking. EMBARKATION: From Rome, we walked back to Termini and took the express train to Civitavecchia. This is a regional train with just a few stops. Cost just 11.5 Euros per person and was clean, fast, and on-time. In just about an hour, we had arrived at the port. Another review had mentioned that arrival at the Civitavecchia station involved stairs. VERY TRUE! Arrival platform involves going down stairs crossing under the tracks and back up another flight of stairs. No escalators or elevators. Remember this if you have any difficulty carrying luggage. A very short walk to the port entry gate was easy to do, but not well marked with directional signs. The walkway is wide and level. Once at the port entry, there is a bus pickup area that will take you to your ship. We arrived about 11:00am and they only had one small bus running every 45 minutes or so. Disorganized, no staff from RCI at the bus stop, and over-crowded with many passengers pushing and shoving to try and get on the bus when it arrived. We thought it was bad, but tolerable, until the bus took us to a tent in the middle of the port to get off, pick up our luggage again and then wait for ANOTHER bus to finally take us to the ship. This 2-step transport process was painful, wasted time, and did not make a good impression. It took us longer to get from the port entry to the ship than it did for us to get from Rome to Civitavecchia. Once at the ship, embarkation agents were ready and everything moved fairly smooth for boarding. Cabin was not ready so we headed to the Windjammer buffet for lunch. Overcrowded and no seats available. I said this in my last review, do the math RCI! You are going to have problems if you try to fit 1,000 people into a 750 seat restaurant. After waiting 20 minutes, we finally found a table outside aft. Nothing better than eating in your jackets in cool and windy weather. I said WOW, but not in a good way. SHIP: Overall the ship looked pretty good after it's recent drydock. No major complaints on overall appearance and our cabin was neat and tidy as well. The bathroom did have some chipped mirrors and missing caulk in the shower. Not sure why you would spend millions in a renovation and overlook these details. They also supplied some towels that were actually torn and threadbare, well past their usable life. A hotel that rents by the hour would not even use these towels. Not sure why RCI would even consider this practice if they are remotely wanting to make a good impression on their customers. Our cabin steward was pleasant, quiet and did a good job. Even after several introductions, he could never remember our names. This was the first sign that something had really changed. Overworked? Too many cabins/customers? Bad memory? You would think after 12 nights he would remember us. Remembering customer's names is part of the charm. DINING: This is where a major change was noticed. The food in the Windjammer was institutional grade at best. Sure there is plenty of it, but not the best quality. Some days the lemonade was like water, the next day it was super tart. Same with the ice cream machine. Appears nobody quite got the mixing instructions correct. The bricks on my house are softer than the toast served for breakfast. The orange juice had a very strange flavor. Not sure it contained oranges! One morning they set up a waffle station with one staff member and two waffle machines. With a cycle time of 3 minutes, that meant they could serve a waffle every 1.5 minutes (if all goes smoothly). I counted 28 people in line. Not sure standing in line and waiting 42 minutes for a waffle is worth it. Why make a few people happy and piss off so many? Do it right or don't do it at all. In using the main dining room for breakfast, their eggs benedict had some sort of weird meat (not canadian bacon) and no hollandaise sauce. Think of it as an egg and mystery meat on an english muffin. While we in the middle of the Atlantic, our waiter said they were out of tomato juice (as in ALL OUT). The next day I see a glass of tomato juice and request some. This waiter says no problem. When I ask about the supposed outage, he tells me the other waiter lied and just didn't want to go to the storeroom to retrieve it. (Another WOW moment). I also like corned beef hash. Usually it was cooked and served fresh. One morning it was a mix of old grey meat and fresh pink meat. It was obvious that they had combined older leftovers and newer hash. (Another WOW moment). During dinner in the MDR, the food was just OK. Not impressive at all. I kept thinking that RCI did this on purpose to drive customers to the added-fee restaurants. Also noticed that during dinner, they had so many tables crowded together, I kept wondering if they had fire codes at sea. You literally had to turn sideways to get by some tables. Think tables built for 10 with 12 chairs. Tables built for 6 with 8 chairs. And then too many tables in too little space. You get the picture. Of course this overcrowding contributed to a much higher noise level. Instead of a nice dining room, it was more like eating in a busy fast-casual restaurant every night. In thinking about the overall food, it was a much lower standard in terms of quality than our previous transatlantic. When RCI added 40 extra cabins during drydock and at least 80 more passengers, they contributed to already overcrowded spaces. (Maybe the executives at RCI should go on Undercover Boss to experience what is really served to customers and the service levels to see how they like it. Bet they wouldn't want to eat there every day. Hope they remember that customers are spending their hard-earned money and using valuable vacation time. Not really the place to cut corners. We did eat three nights in the specialty restaurants. Excellent food and fantastic service! It seems RCI has managed to move the old main dining room experience to the specialty restaurants, the buffet experience to the MDR and institutional food service to the buffet. A sad downward trend. ENTERTAINMENT: Individual acts pretty good. House band fantastic! The new outdoor movie screen by the pool was way underutilized. They would show only one movie per night (and not every night) at around 6:30pm during early seating dinner and not early enough for late seating dinner. (one more WOW moment) The same few movies kept recycling over and over again for days on end both in the cabin, in the theater, and at the pool. POOL AREAS: another do the math RCI! On warm days, no pool chairs available. This lack of chairs is mentioned in many reviews. A few passengers tried to save chairs in the solarium. Thank goodness the staff would actually remove their towels and "book and sunglasses" savers if you pointed it out. We witnessed a lady who claimed she was just "working out" for 10 minutes after being gone for 3 hours. Trust me, this lady hasn't seen the inside of a gym in 40 years. She had the nerve to go and complain about her saved chairs being given to other passengers. SMOKING: Warning - way too much smoke! I do not know if this ship was more liberal than other RCI ships due to it being based in the mediterranean and a greater percentage of smokers. They allowed smoking on decks 12, 11, 6 and 4 and allowed smokers to "drift" even farther from their designated areas. It was very uncomfortable going anywhere near these areas. You may as well forget the casino. Unbearable smoke levels! Our group actually had to leave the casino due to the high smoke levels. (Unbreathable air causing all of us to cough and gasp for air). One dealer even commented that he doesn't smoke, but feels like he does after working in the casino. Good news is more money in my pocket and less in the casino's pocket. PORTS Valencia: The city centre is a few miles away from the port. RCI staff was very deceptive in stating that the only way out of the port area and to city centre was by their paid shuttle. I finally cornered a staff member who admitted, only after my direct repeated questions, that there was a free shuttle to the port entrance. Easy city bus service to the city centre for only 1.8 euros. Lisbon: a really great city. Our shortest time in port. Not nearly enough time to explore all of the sites. Ponta Delgada: Small, quite, and quaint. Not a tremendous amount of walkable tourist attractions from the port. Would have much preferred a stop at Madeira instead. DISEMBARKATION: Straightforward enough, but seemed a little disorganized and none of the scheduled departures groups left on time. Another note that RCI has eliminated the self-carry luggage option to disembark early and quickly. That means you were required to place luggage outside your door the night before and have to reclaim it dockside before customs. Unless RCI has a super deal, we may rethink our next cruise choice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
After having a wonderful TA aboard the Vision of the Seas in April I was disappointed in the hotel management of this cruise. In my opinion they really missed on the guest experience. It just felt like the management was going through ... Read More
After having a wonderful TA aboard the Vision of the Seas in April I was disappointed in the hotel management of this cruise. In my opinion they really missed on the guest experience. It just felt like the management was going through their checklists. At an individual contributor level the team was pleasant and conversational as I've come to expect on RC sailings. It was so many little things that were missing or off it would sound like a petty list to write out. But when you have a disappointment everyday, however, small it colors your trip. From mislabeled items in the Windjammer, 30 minutes of banging on metal for repair on the deck by the lounge chairs (without posting maintenance signs to forewarn guests), 30 minutes of standing in line to exit the ship at Lisbon, a lackluster Crown and anchor event, touch screen that were hard to operate.... they just fell short everyday. It left me feeling meh, about the trip. If this was my first RC experience, I'd be trying another cruise line to see what else was out there. As it's not (and I am invested in the loyaty program) I'll be avoid this ship for future cruise and hope to have as good of experience I've had on other cruises in the future. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
We booked this cruise as we have a lot of time off work and thought it would be nice to travel across the Atlantic and visit some Caribbean islands before having a few days in Florida before home. It was out first cruise. Checkin was ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we have a lot of time off work and thought it would be nice to travel across the Atlantic and visit some Caribbean islands before having a few days in Florida before home. It was out first cruise. Checkin was really easy at Southampton, although there were very long queues. The ship was big. Very big, but we knew this and there are lots of things to do on board. We booked an outside cabin as that is all that was left. We would have preferred a balcony, but the outside room was fine. It was on deck two towards the rear of the ship. No noise at all during the night. Very comfortable, clean and great views out to sea. Being low down meant we were quite close to the water and I liked this. The crossing was very smooth and we didn't hardly feel the ship moving at all. Some days, it looked liked it was the sea that was moving and not us. Very smooth. One thing we didn't expect was the queues. The ship was full, but I'd imagine most sailings are full. You queue for virtually everything. We booked my time dining and pre booked dinner each night at 8pm. We arrived a few mins before and had to queue. People who hadn't booked any time just joined the queue. Queued for about 15-20 minutes each time. Queue for a drink at the bar. Most bar staff didn't know who was next to be served and were clearly not managing their bar. A lot of the passengers were rude and just barged in. Buffet - windjammer - queue to see what's on offer. Some days even queue for a table. Shows. Really good, but we had to queue again for tickets to the ice shows, and then queued again to get into the show, we even queued to get out of the show! The cabin was clean and made up every day. Our cabin attendant was excellent. We pre paid for the Internet package and drinks package. The drinks package was about £42 per day. This seems a lot, but compared to the prices on board, it was well worth it. This free coffee and tea on the ship is awful. A latte or capuchino at one of the only two coffee places would have you set you back about £3.00 each, and we had a few of these each morning. (Queued again for that - long time) couple of beers at lunchtime, a cocktail or two at sunset and maybe a G&T before dinner plus wine with dinner then a few drinks in the evening. This drinks package paid for its self in no time. The Internet was good. Great across the Atlantic but very hit and miss in the Caribbean. Guest services: I like they was they call it guest services and not customer services as you get NO customer service. If you are buying something then great. We had to mention about the Internet not working and were told on different occasions that it's planned maintenance. Next reason was our location. Next one was the antenna has broken, and finally, that the satellite dish is pointing in the wrong direction. We asked for a refund for the 5 days it wasn't working to be told that you can only have 2 days because that's their policy. When we questioned this Aman (guest service officer from Russia) just picked up the phone and rang a number. Handed us the phone and said "deal with them". A number of guest service staff became aggressive and short when you any concerns. Rudolf was the only member of guest services who was pleasant. We had plans when we arrived in ST Thomas, but that was when we had to clear U.S immigration. We needed to be off the ship as soon as it docked and was cleared, but we were informed the night before that, due to our cabin location, we couldn't go through immigration until 1130 am. The first people to be cleared were Pinacle guests, gold card holders or people who booked a Royal Caribbean excursion. We explained to guest services that we had made plans and were told "it's tough"...Nothing we can do" I enquired that if I paid for an excursion, we could be off quickly. "Yes, that's correct". In the end. We ended up paying for an excursion just to disembark early. We later found out that there were delays and had we not done this we wouldn't have cleared immigration until 1530. The ship sailed at 18:30. Food. It's ok. I wouldn't call it gormet. The windjammer is like I would expect in Spain. Pizza. Hot dogs, chips, and curry. There are salads etc, and the deserts always seemed to be the same. Jelly or cake. The dining room was just ok. Very salty and warm. Never hot and you are rushed through dinner to get out so they can clear away ready for the ever growing queue. Jonny rockets was like a ghost town. Probably because you have to pay extra for that. We never expected to feel this, But unless you are a gold card holder, or a pinnacle member, you kind of feel like you don't matter. Everything, from shore excursions, to disembarkation, to seating is always after their elite have been looked after first. This wasn't managed at all. It was shoved down your throat. I understand they want to look after their loyal customers, but they will be running out soon, and if they carry on treating new guests like second class citizens, there won't be anyone to replace them. Pool area. Very very very crowded. Sun beds are packed tightly together, and there aren't enough. People leave their towels on them all day to reserve them, but never use them. This was not managed at all, despite them having a 30 minute time limit for unattended beds. Into the second week (just as we got to the warm weather) they decided to replace the decking around the pool area, and large areas were cut off so you couldn't utilise that space. Plus the noise from the sanding machines drowned out the music round the pool. The pools and jacuzzis were drained the day before we arrived, so the last day at sea was a waste. We didn't bother with the shore excursions as these were overpriced and designed to take you to diamond shops and expensive retailers. Obviously, a commission making scheme going on here. The only one we did was in St Thomas, and we paid for the excursion just to get off the ship. All in all, I liked the cruise experience of sailing across the Atlantic and visiting the Caribbean. I guess I went in expecting it to be a 5 star experience. What I got an ok 3 star experience. I'd cruise again, but probably not with Royal Caribbean and I'd lower my expections. Guest services were on the whole.....dreadful. On a last note, I was extremely concerned with just how some of the older guests were so rude to the staff and other guests. I had to bite my lip a few times to stop myself from reminding these mature travelers that the staff are human beings and not slaves. It's not nice. Please stop it. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our first transatlantic and generally we enjoyed it. However it didn't start too smoothly as once onboard we noticed our sea passes were endorsed as Emerald and not Diamond as they should have been. Having seen the C&A ... Read More
This was our first transatlantic and generally we enjoyed it. However it didn't start too smoothly as once onboard we noticed our sea passes were endorsed as Emerald and not Diamond as they should have been. Having seen the C&A manager we were given new passes but there were no fringe benefits in the room and we missed out on a behind the scenes tour. There were also issues with our free internet which I had to chase and get resolved. The ship is starting to show its age and is looking a bit tired in places. The crew keep it clean though. We sailed on it for the first time in the summer and it's the first ship where I could find an outside seat (on the summer trip not this one) The dining experience in the main dining room was OK but overall Royal Caribbean are reducing the standard and service on an ongoing basis. The focus it to push the fine dining restaraunts where you pay a supplement or the Lobster or Fillet Mignon in the main dining room where again you pay a supplement. The shows on this cruise were above the average standard and the feature length production of Grease was excellent and you would willingly pay to,see it at a local theatre. We didn't use the other bars really but there was some good music emanating from them most evenings. Again, standards are slipping and I had a couple of minor issues and requests which I presented to the main customer service desk. One of them was not dealt with at all and I had to chase it up in order to resolve it. With gratuities rising, the service is not matching our expectations. The points we stopped along the way were all nice if a little samy, but then it is the Caribbean. With hindsight I think a stop in the Azores would have been nice and broken up the long stretch at sea. I could have forgon Labadee. The US immigration check upon arrival in St Thomas was an absolute shambles. We were fortunate to be on a tour and smart enough to get up and be near the front of the queue. Others on our tour didn't make it, despite us waiting 40 minutes. There was still a queue when we returned to the ship five hours later and we heard accounts of people waiting over three hours. What made it worse is that upon arrival in Fort Lauderdale we had to have our passports checked again. What a waste of time and typical beaurocracy for the sake of it. I hope this review doesn't present too poor an impression. We had a good trip and would do it again but would possibly try a different ship. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Boarding at Southampton was a dream compared to US ports, super-efficient, but that seemed to be the end of the good times. The cabin was clean and mostly worked though the shower had to be turned well past the red protective button to ... Read More
Boarding at Southampton was a dream compared to US ports, super-efficient, but that seemed to be the end of the good times. The cabin was clean and mostly worked though the shower had to be turned well past the red protective button to get warm water. Food was standard RCI fare with a few British twists, though the cabin kettles were grabbed before we sailed. What RCI called the headliners were mainly of a very low standard, more holiday camp than the normal US based cruise quality. Though there was a slight improvement once we got to the islands. The ice shows, there were two and Grease were bright spots. There were a number of workers on board decreasing the depth of the children’s pool and replacing the green matting around the pools, on several days areas of the pool were inaccessible. This may have increased the tension but the subsequent fights over sun beds and the eventual expulsion from the ship of one or more families was probably more due to the high percentage of passengers with free drink packages. Casino gossip also had several people down with Noro and cabin bound. The ship ran out of several basic and not so basic items during the cruise culminating in a final morning with only kids mini cartons of milk with a mounted straw. European type bacon, tomato juice, canned ginger ale, skimmed milk, bottled cider and other items having run out days before the end. The ship’s committee, a rather strange concept, apologised twice once, for a debacle of immigration in St Thomas with some passengers feeling they did not have enough time after clearance to even get off the ship, clearance started at 7am and didn’t finish until 5pm due to insufficient officers being available. The second apology was for a medivac which caused a delay in arriving at Haiti, in neither case was RCI to blame. Having been to these places many times I only walked around the local area, San Juan with a short stopping time I didn't bother to get off. The final straw was the disembarkation. I am used to them being about an hour behind etc but the shores team stupidity caused so many problems when all they had to do was send one group of people to Miami Airport and one to Fort Lauderdale Airport. In the end the local sheriff’s department had to step in as tempers frayed with people being told to stand in several different places, in one case moving the tail of the line to the front. It took nearly two hours once off the ship to get to Miami airport with most of this time in line/s for the bus. I know that several letters of complaint went in while the cruise was on. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We are a married couple from Scandinavia who previous have been on about 40 cruises. We have sailed, both on many Transatlantic Cruises, and on other destinations with several different Cruise Lines. Pre-cruise: We had for the third ... Read More
We are a married couple from Scandinavia who previous have been on about 40 cruises. We have sailed, both on many Transatlantic Cruises, and on other destinations with several different Cruise Lines. Pre-cruise: We had for the third time booked in advance a car with chauffeur from Online Airport Cars in London, to take us to our hotel in Southampton. It worked again OK for us, and we thought the price was fair. As before, we had booked a room at Hotel Novotel Southampton, one day before the cruise. We think the hotel is a good 4* city hotel. Embarkation: Went very smoothly. The voyage: For the first time on a Transatlantic Cruise in late fall from Europe to the US, we had no ports of call in the South Atlantic, like Madeira or one of the Canaries, before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. This turned out to have consequences regarding the weather conditions. Captain Iv explained that there was a greater weather challenge to sail a North Atlantic route in late fall, instead of sailing a more southerly route to the Caribbean. The Captain also showed on an online map, that if Independence had sailed a more southerly route near Madeira, we then would had a high pressure with nice weather. Instead, we had to wait six days to see the sun and enjoy warm weather. The reason why a northern route across the Atlantic was chosen, I'm pretty sure was to save fuel expenses due to a shorter distance to the Caribbean. To satisfy the passengers with nice weather was apparently of no concern for RCI. To me, it appears unfortunately that Independence also will sail the same route, from Southampton to the Caribbean, next October. The Ship: The Independence of the Seas is a nice ship, and I think the ship seems mostly well maintained. But a special comment: Cushions to the chairs in the Windjammer should be replaced. Stateroom info: We had booked a Superior balcony stateroom on deck seven. It was large and comfortable. However, the two plastic chairs on the balcony could have been better. We were satisfied with our stateroom attendant. Something else, it is many years since we have had such a poor selection of TV channels during a Transatlantic Cruise! After the first two cruise days, we lost all TV channels with news coverage. The reason was stated to be missing satellite connection. When we reached the Caribbean, the only TV stations we then were able to watch with news coverage, were CNN US and Bloomberg. News beyond the US presidential election, was almost completely absent. The background for the very poor TV channels selection, was probably that RCI wanted the passengers to buy internet packages. This was offered on the Royal Promenade during the whole cruise. With the exception of the last three days of the cruise, there were no free movies to watch in the cabin (only movies for a fee). Dining: We had set dining time in the Macbeth Dining Room on deck four. We were mostly pleased with the quality of the food that we selected. On our table no. 459, we had excellent service from our professional waiter from Goa in India, and his very pleasant female waiter from the Sao Paulo area of Brazil. The food for breakfast in the Buffet Restaurant Windjammer, was reduced. For instance prunes was no longer available, and smoked salmon was no longer among the cold cuts. Regarding the selections of hot dishes offered for lunch, the quality of the burgers was unfortunately very poor. As usual, it was a bit difficult to find an unoccupied table for breakfast and lunch during “peak hours” in the Windjammer. The first two days of the cruise, I think the employees in the Windjammer were a bit too relaxed, but after that, the majority did a good job of clearing tables etc. On this cruise we found the selection of food in the in Café Promenade, more limited than we generally are used to find on other RCI ships with a Café Promenade. The Bars: Most bars were understaffed. General comment about the crew: The majority of the crew we met, were friendly. Entertainment: Of course, a lot of entertainment. The two different ice shows we watched, was as usual excellent, and we really enjoyed the musical production of Grease. We have several years ago got tired of watching the Cruise Lines own production shows, with their many non-original music and songs. Moreover, we were not impressed with a female vocalist who performed in the Alhambra Theatre, and the band that was playing on Pool Deck. We think the Cruise Director, Jamie did a good job, and we enjoyed the Daily Morning TV Show with him and his Activity Manager. The Crown & Anchor Society: As Diamond Plus members, we appreciated the gifts that we received on board. We are usually very pleased with the nightly event for Diamond members and above, with the offer of free beverages and canapés, and in addition the three drink coupons. However, for the first time, we are left with mixed feelings with our experiences with the Diamond Lounge event this time. During the first part of the cruise, both service from the waiters, and the offer of beverages and canapés were very good in the premises, which was used as the Diamond Lounge.But unfortunately, later was the number of the waiters serving beverages nearly halved, and the platters with canapés were rarely refilled. When it was four day left of the cruise, it was said that Independence was out of stock of Cognac in all the bars on board, which I unfortunately do not necessarily think was the truth. Another day, it was not possible to order a glass of Rosé Wine in the Diamond Lounge, and also during the last cruise days we were told that they now were out of ordinary wineglasses in the Lounge! - and only had smaller glasses left. I don't think this was a correct explanation. I assume "all this" is due to cost cutting! We never visited the Concierge Lounge in the evening, it was too crowded. Itinerary – As stated before, we unfortunately had no ports of call in the South Atlantic, like Madeira or one of the Canaries, before crossing the Atlantic to the Caribbean. However, the five ports of call in Caribbean were all good. Immigration – Like previous years when arriving in St. Thomas, the immigration process took between one and a half to two hours. The reason for the always very long lines, is the lack of a sufficient number of US Immigrant Officers. Unfortunately, the long immigration process leads each time that some passengers get reduced hours to go ashore in St. Thomas. Disembarkation: It was severely delayed in relation to the assigned time we had been given the day before. We had to wait on the ship nearly an hour and a half beyond that time, before our disembarkation number was announced. Fortunately, we were not in a hurry in Fort Lauderdale! Overall – In recent years we have also experienced cost cuts by other Cruise Lines, but never to the extent that we experienced on this cruise! Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise in order to sail with friends we had met on our previous Trans-Atlantic. After four days in London, we arrived in Southampton by train and we were at the port within ten minutes. Embarkation was quick and we were ... Read More
We chose this cruise in order to sail with friends we had met on our previous Trans-Atlantic. After four days in London, we arrived in Southampton by train and we were at the port within ten minutes. Embarkation was quick and we were on the ship within twenty minutes. After lunch in the Windjammer, we walked around the ship until our cabin was ready. The cabin (9220) had a balcony that had curved glass panel that looked out over the front of the ship. A good view but also quite open to the views of the bridge and vise-versa. Our cabin steward, Christopher, could not have been any more personable or professional. He kept our cabin in perfect order. Other positives were the concierge in the Diamond Lounge. She was fantastic. And the wait staff in the lounge was top-notch. On the evenings that the Diamond and Diamond Plus passengers overflowed into the Olive-R-Twist area, the service was lacking; but the staff was sparse and spread thin. Also, on Veteran's Day, there was a service in the main theatre. It was one of the most reverent and well done salutes that I have attended on my sailings. Finally, for positives, the presentation of Grease was absolutely wonderful; far above my expectations. Also, I will say the same for the ice show, Freeze Frames. As noted by other passengers, the ship is showing signs of wear. Most obvious was the carpet on the pool deck that had a combination of black mold and unknown orange stains. During the final five days of the cruise, the carpet was ripped up in sections and replaced with new. Not only did it block off sections of the deck; making one have to take detours to get from the starboard to the port side because of the blocked off sections; it was unhealthy to breath whatever was in and under the carpet as it was torn up during the days when the pool deck was at its highest attendance. This was not what I would expect of RCI for customer satisfaction during a cruise. It was not only a health hazard but was also an aesthetic nightmare. Other disconcerting events included menus in the main dining room that had little or no appeal; definitely not worth donning formal wear! Only one night of prime rib and no lobster for fifteen days. While the service was excellent, it was obvious that there was less wait staff that normally found on previous cruises. Coffee service on the pool deck appeared any where from 7am til 8:30 am. If one wanted coffee before this, it required a trip to the Café Promenade on deck five. The Cruise Director was largely absent except during shows in the theatre or on his morning show which had the professionalism of a middle school presentation. There was little information, poor attempts at humor and largely seemed to be his touting his worthiness. On the final sea day, we left our sun beds to get a quick breakfast in the Windjammer only to return to other passengers in the chairs and our towel clamps laying on an adjacent sunbed. It seems that after fourteen days, the deck patrol chose to enforce the empty chair policy and removed towel from all chairs not in use as they made their round. When asked about this, the explanation was that this was the policy; which it is. When asked why it was not enforced prior to this, I only got a blank stare. When I asked when the next patrol would take place, I was told within the next five minutes. Well, that was accurate! However, during the remainder of the day, there were no further patrols. When I asked how did they determine if a passenger had been away from the lounger for more that thirty minutes, the response was they had not idea and just removed the towels whenever they passed a lounger with no one lying on it. Finally, after sailing on several of the RCI ships for the past thirty five years, I was most disappointed in the decoration of the ship; it looked like the artwork, the theme, and the paintings on the pool deck and solarium were a combination of mismatched items left over from other ships or discards from past renovations. The murals on the pool deck looked like home-coming painting done by high school freshmen. The cruise was made enjoyable by having our two couples from previous cruises and the rest of the passengers. Most of the cruisers seemed to be Brits; who were quite friendly and a joy to be around. In summary, we will most likely continue to cruise with Royal Caribbean; as long as their ships don't continue to lose their WOW. Will we cruise on the Indy again? Probably not; there was too much that was deficient and lack-luster. It may be time to branch out to other lines. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
As well travelled cruisers we could not believe, that after 9 days at sea, and one day of hot weather they decided to refurbish the pool area! This work involved stripping off the "astro-turf" type covering from around the pool ... Read More
As well travelled cruisers we could not believe, that after 9 days at sea, and one day of hot weather they decided to refurbish the pool area! This work involved stripping off the "astro-turf" type covering from around the pool areas, thereby reducing the number of sunbeds and making the deck look like a building site, with whole areas taped off!! This work continued until the end of the cruise - the children's pool being completely out of service as they reduced it's depth. When we booked the holiday this was not mentioned by Royal Caribbean, and shows a total disregard for their customer's comfort and enjoyment. The ship was a bit shabby in certain areas and I overheard that it is due for refurbishment in 18 months time, so beware they might decide to refurbish other areas during "up and coming" itineraries. So Buyer Beware!! However, the food in the main dining areas was excellent, and cabinot and dining staff members were also excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Great Entertainment. See all the shows but book online before your cruise and still arrive 30-45 minutes early for best seats. Great Speciality Restaurants. Buy the package before you cruise online. Main Dining Room. Crowded, slow ... Read More
Great Entertainment. See all the shows but book online before your cruise and still arrive 30-45 minutes early for best seats. Great Speciality Restaurants. Buy the package before you cruise online. Main Dining Room. Crowded, slow service, food fair to poor. Plan at least 2 hours for dinner. No Ice Cream at the Buffet . Only one soft serve machine for 7,000 guests. Ran out of Chocolate custard 1/2 way through the cruise. No omelet stations in the Buffet. If you like excellent food, splurge in the speciality restaurants and skip the dining room. And don't pay for the food at Johnny Rockets. Mediocre food that you have to pay for. We did the Chefs table. Booked it online before the cruise. Got word from RCI that it was cancelled and $$ would be refunded. It was rescheduled at the last minute 1/2 way through the cruise. It was set up in the Solarium Bistro in a semi private space. Not the quality of other Chef's tables and certainally not the atmosphere of others. Activities: Do the Zip Line, the Abyss, and the water slides. Don't miss the Escape Room. The Solarium: A big disappointment. No Shade, No Pool, cold when weather was bad. The roof was not able to close completely. Royal IQ: Never worked. Not able to book any restaurants from any device including the room. Not able to book multiple speciality restaurants from one dining room. Even with my reservations, the Royal IQ totally got them wrong. Balcony Cabin ocean view was fine. No outside noises. Lots of space, very comfortable bed. Loyalty program, a joke. Limited drink menu and times for Diamond Guests. Crowded Diamond Club and overflow rooms for Diamond Happy Hour. Go to any bar and they will take care of you. Embarking: No wait in Barcelona. Was on the ship within 15 minutes of arriving. Debarking: Terrible. Had an early flight (9:40am out of Ft. Lauderdale). Was told by many crew members including Guest Services that the baggage would be off the ship by 7am. Waited an hour for the baggage to arrive after we got off. Finally got our bags at 8:00. Almost missed the flight. Next time we will carry our own bags off. If you have an early fight don't even think of having you bags taken off by the crew the night before. Service: Mixed. All personal tried to accommodate but many seemed hassled, overworked and tired. If you haven't experienced Oasis Class Royal Caribbean ships before try them Especially if you like great entertainment and great activities. But do your homework. Wait a least a year before going a new ship and maybe just do the speciality restaurants . Book as many activities and shows online before you leave. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We have never posted a review on cruise critic before. We are not sure if we are just not so much in awe of this class ship as we previously were on the Oasis and the Allure but we felt this ship did not compare. We were happy with our ... Read More
We have never posted a review on cruise critic before. We are not sure if we are just not so much in awe of this class ship as we previously were on the Oasis and the Allure but we felt this ship did not compare. We were happy with our Ocean balcony cabin but our cabin steward was mediocre. The dining room food was decent but again, mediocre. The Windjammer had better food than the dining room. We feel that there seems to be a decrease in the quality of the dining room food probably due to the speciality restaurants. Also, the dining room food service was slow and the food always just room temperature. The worst part was disembarking which was a nightmare. My husband was in a wheelchair and they lost a piece of our luggage and we found it ourselves & the tags were intact and it was with a group of odds and ends of luggage. It took us one hour to locate it. Then no one knew where we could get the rental car shuttle and the porter took us to the taxi stand. We are sailing for the third time on the Oasis and had we not already booked this, we may have cancelled. There is certainly a lot to do on the ship and probably great for most cruisers but being diamond plus left us with a lot to be desired. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Our embarkation went very smoothly as did disembarkation. Disembarkation was slower than embarkation but considering the number of passengers this was expected. The Diamond lounge was pathetic, even with 3 venues open they could not ... Read More
Our embarkation went very smoothly as did disembarkation. Disembarkation was slower than embarkation but considering the number of passengers this was expected. The Diamond lounge was pathetic, even with 3 venues open they could not accommodate the number of members on board (approximately 2600) the Diamond Concierge had a few members that he clicked with and would spend the time socializing with however if you were not in that click he had not time for you.. We liked to meet our friends in the lounge but it was only the company that made it worthwhile. We like to meet new people but if were in there alone the concierge would come and ask for the chairs from your table to seat members of his click, leaving you sitting all by yourselves with no chairs for others to join you The food in the lounge left something to be desired usually franks and all they lacked was the beans Breakfast in the dining room or the other venues was a disaster the only place to get service was the windjammer Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We sailed from Civitavecchia on a short three nghts to get to Barcelona before a 13 night sailing across the Atlantic (TA) to Miami. Just off the Florida coast we met up with Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas for a photo op. We ... Read More
We sailed from Civitavecchia on a short three nghts to get to Barcelona before a 13 night sailing across the Atlantic (TA) to Miami. Just off the Florida coast we met up with Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas for a photo op. We were on the Allure of the Seas last year and have sailed on 24 cruises with RCI and five with Celebrity. Last month we sailed on MSC for the first time. These other sailings influence my opinion because I know now better what I want from a cruise than when I first started. While the ports of call are important they are less so on a TA. More important are the ships features and facilities and most important (in my opinion) are service and entertainment. I rated this average and likely will not do another TA on Harmony OTS or one of her sisters as there are other ships that do this better. If the price and timing are right I will consider it but a significant negative will way against ever doing another TA on this large a ship. Both on the Allure OTS last year and on the Harmony OTS this year, the ship was very, very crowded at certain points. Both boarding and disembarking were wonderful, some of the smoothest of any cruises I've been on. But once on-board, the staff doesn't seem to have figures out how to manage the large number of crowds. Often this was experienced at shows where crowds more than could be handled showed up. The parades and other events on the Promenade are a mass of people beginning more than an hour before the event and unless you show up 30 minutes before there is no way you'll find a spot where you can see. It also happens in the dining areas. The other strong negative is the poor quality of the meals. There is a lot of food but the dishes are not special nor is there much variety. I found Allure had a much better variety of food last year so it appears RCI is continuing to downgrade in this area as time goes along. Most bothersome is the large amount of salt used in soups and several other dishes and the almost non-existent selection of low sugar desserts. Most people gain weight on cruises and the junk food is widely available. I gain three or four pounds because I don't eat highly processed or high sugar content foods. So I'm left with little other than fruit. Finally the entertainment, except for Columbus the Musical was poor. In Grease, some of the stars are not very good singers and being a musical this is had to overlook. It seems looks wins out over talent. There is no enrichment program to speak of as I don't call a person talking about movies he has been a part of producing an enrichment program. I wouldn't spend time watching such a thing on TV when at home so why would I come on a cruise and give my much less limited time to that. The Aqua show also was less impressive on the Harmony than on the Allure as it seems RCI choose to go after style and dance moves rather than demonstrate the talent and abilities of the cast. Allure did this very well and did a much better job utilizing the special elements of the theatre. Style over talent was also my feeling about the ice show on Harmony. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Thought it would be interesting to try a new large ship. It was interesting. Ship was large and crowded. Not enough seating in public areas. Shows were better than some of the other ships. Food was mediocre. I do have to say, our Dining ... Read More
Thought it would be interesting to try a new large ship. It was interesting. Ship was large and crowded. Not enough seating in public areas. Shows were better than some of the other ships. Food was mediocre. I do have to say, our Dining room team was one of the Best we have ever had. The rest. was no big deal. Will stick with the smaller ships.Activities were good for kids. Did not ever get service out on deck. Servers need more training. They seemed to pick only easy to get to areas. Smoking in public areas is also a problem. We had people in the cabin next to us smoking all the time. Inside and on balcony. No one did anything to stop them. Kids were running wild on ship without supervision. Any activities were almost impossible to get a seat. Always crowded. Seems they are experienced enough to have better planning. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
This was our first 14 day trip and it was very good. From the excellent, fast embarkation in Barcelona to the speedy disembarkation in Tampa, rarely were we held up for things that Royal Caribbean could control. The service staff in ... Read More
This was our first 14 day trip and it was very good. From the excellent, fast embarkation in Barcelona to the speedy disembarkation in Tampa, rarely were we held up for things that Royal Caribbean could control. The service staff in the main dining room, especially McKoy and Robert, was all that we could expect. They went out of their way to make us comfortable and happy. The food choices were somewhat boring, but we made do. The entertainment was good. Very appropriate for the audience. I was on the younger side of the average age of the passengers - lots of retired folk on this trip - but the pace was good for me to relax and enjoy. I loved the 7 days at sea! VOOM wifi kept me in touch with the world when I wanted it - and the system was worth the cost. This was our first cruise as "diamond" level guests, so we really enjoyed the perks involved with being Loyal to Royal. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
RCL seem to have changed the Diamond Plus (DP), benefits by making a simple change in name to the Concierge Club. They have renamed it the Suites Lounge and now only allow entrance to Suite occupiers and Pinnacle members. In this way they ... Read More
RCL seem to have changed the Diamond Plus (DP), benefits by making a simple change in name to the Concierge Club. They have renamed it the Suites Lounge and now only allow entrance to Suite occupiers and Pinnacle members. In this way they have down graded the benefit of DPs forcing them to use only the already overcrowded and inferior Diamond Lounge. Have I got this wrong - I hope so as with the current system I'll likely never get to Pinnacle and regain my benefit. She ship is fine, a modernised Oasis class with many Anthem touches. Numerous restaurants, many requiring additional payment. That's fine by me, the quality of the food is much better as is generally the service. We r going transatlantic and size matters as the bigger ships sit better in the water in rougher seas. Much better than the Vision on last years crossing. We sailed from Barcelona, and arrived three days early to enjoy what is a super city. We booked an apartment in the Gothic area right in the middle of the city center. Great. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
For the first time ever, we purchased a wine package for our transatlantic cruise on RCCL in October, 2016. We actually made this purchase a day before RCCL discontinued the availability of the wine package; after that date they only ... Read More
For the first time ever, we purchased a wine package for our transatlantic cruise on RCCL in October, 2016. We actually made this purchase a day before RCCL discontinued the availability of the wine package; after that date they only offered the full drink package which was quite a bit more expensive. We noticed right away that servers only poured 1/2 a glass of wine each time we ordered, versus a full glass when a customer paying at the time ordered. We asked about this, but were told it was a standard amount. I have a photo of a full glass of wine as poured for a customer paying at the time, versus our glasses which were 1/2 full, and sometimes even less than that. In addition, on more than two occasions when I asked for a second glass as my first glass was nearly empty, I was told "you need to finish that first." The second time this happened, I got upset and told the server I was going to complain at Guest Services and give them his name, and he laughed and said he was "only kidding." By the end of the cruise, we felt as if we were treated as "second class passengers" in this regard, and it was not pleasant. We may never buy another beverage package due to this experience. The cost was about the same as if we had paid at the time of ordering, and also the brands they serve was far inferior to the other brands available for purchase. The rest of the cruise was fine. I like that class of ship and have traveled on them several times. The crew was all wonderful and the entertainment great. The only other area that needs improvement is in the quality and taste of the food. It was just very average at best. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Chose this trip for the itinerary. Hoped for a little more pizazz. May be that expectations were to high. Food was edible, but very disappointing. Staff were very good. Ship lovely , but a little dated. Probably will not take a cruise ... Read More
Chose this trip for the itinerary. Hoped for a little more pizazz. May be that expectations were to high. Food was edible, but very disappointing. Staff were very good. Ship lovely , but a little dated. Probably will not take a cruise for a while. Our crew member experience was excellent. Everyone helpful and courteous. Room stewards top notch. Can't say as much for the food. we aren't "foodies", but sometimes it was embarrassing that they would actually serve this stuff. Ran out of items, but not the fault of the servers. Plenty of entertainment and activities. Next time cruising we will try another line. Still look back with many fond memories. Sometimes the negative overshadow positive. Human nature I suppose. We did spend a lot of money. Not sure if it was worth it. Alcoholic beverages were priced way too high. I can't enjoy a simple drink if I KNOW that it is overpriced. Then the gratuity issue. They charge ahead of time for overall tips and gratuities. Then it seems to be expected to retip for any outstanding service. I think the 18% IS for outstanding service, but I felt abligated to tip again at the end of our cruise because we did have a very good room person. This ended our cruise with a bit of resentment toward management for manipulating our feelings. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
We chose this cruise because of its very different itinerary which included Copenhagen as a starting point, 2 ports in Norway, 3 in Iceland, Halifax, and, finally Boston. We had had such a wonderful first-time transAtlantic experience with ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of its very different itinerary which included Copenhagen as a starting point, 2 ports in Norway, 3 in Iceland, Halifax, and, finally Boston. We had had such a wonderful first-time transAtlantic experience with Princess in April that we were expecting a similar experience with Royal Caribbean. This was our first cruise with Royal Caribbean. We are the kind of folks who look for great itineraries at the best prices (and always a balcony cabin). We have cruised on Princess three times, Carnival twice, and Norwegian four times (3 of those on the Nor. Pearl). So, we were able to compare several things and, unfortunately, this ship/cruise came up short. Here are a few of the reasons why: 1. Only ship that didn't welcome their first-time cruisers with some type of a get-together. 2. Only ship with such abbreviated buffet hours. Several times it closed down and even more "slow down" times. This was a problem when in ports and late returns from tours. 3. Only ship with such unorganized "anytime" dining. 4. Only ship with only one dining room choice. 5. Only ship with so few additional "complimentary" dining choices. In fact, the Park Cafe, in the Solarium, was it. 6. Only ship where buffet frequently ran out of cups for tea and coffee and even glasses for water and juice. TIP: Bring your own insulated coffee cup like I did, so you'll get coffee while others queue up. 7. Only ship where complimentary toilietries weren't automatically supplied (had to ask). Oh, and no chocolates on the pillow, although I heard if you asked, you could get that, too. 8. Only ship where the non high-loyalty passengers were made to feel as if they were in steerage. (I understand some of it, but when we were frequently herded out of rooms for Diamond members to get their free drinks and appetizers and often had to hunt hard for seating in the buffet while a large room with around 50 tables was reserved for Diamond Members and almost always empty--we did feel a bit of the steerage rating.) Okay, here's what I liked. 1. We loved our 9th deck balcony cabin. It is roomier than most and was well laid out. 2. Our cabin attendant was good. 3. We loved the Cruise Director--and I think everyone did. 4. The entertainment was fine. Maybe a little quirky, but we appreciated experiencing comedian, flutist, pianist, featured singers, magicians, and more. First time a ship also offered some of the headline acts in a matinee as well. 5. Great, great group of passengers to meet. 6. The gyroscopic pool tables were a blast and free to all. 7. Beautiful scenery for quiet times (when available) in Safari Club and Vortex. 8. Solarium for comfy use of pool and hot tub for chilly and windy days. 9. Although we were pretty annoyed with the crowding and disorganization in the dining room, the food served was well presented and seemed a bit tastier than our other cruise experiences. Now, although we are pretty mellow about food, this was the only cruise where we found many of the buffet selections quite unappealing (after trying). However, there was always fruit, salad, good bread, great cheeses. AND, we were happy to be able to put on some eating brakes. It's hard to be disciplined when there are just so many good things. Of course, the desserts were very appealing and we had to really work hard to avoid them. We never lacked for a good meal--except when we found the buffet and the dining room closed. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We originally chose this cruise to see the Northern Lights & the Faroe Islands. The Northern lights were a bust (not the ship's fault) but the Faroe Islands were mysteriously cancelled by Royal with no explanation. The dining on ... Read More
We originally chose this cruise to see the Northern Lights & the Faroe Islands. The Northern lights were a bust (not the ship's fault) but the Faroe Islands were mysteriously cancelled by Royal with no explanation. The dining on the ship was so so. Lobster tail only served once on a 16 night cruise and it was served on the same night as prime rib. Breakfast in the Windjammer was great and included (on a rotating basis) crepes, belgian waffles, pancakes & breakfast burritos made to order. The cabins and the ship were clean but nothing special. The staff was friendly for the most part. Afternoon shows on sea days were new & refreshing. You can only spend so much time & money in the casino. One of the slot machines in the casino that I like was broken when we were on this ship in February and it was still broken. We missed the aerial shows in the Centrum. Too many people and you had to be there at least 1 hour to get a standing spot for a 5 minute show. There was a continuing problem with the coffee station outside the Windjammer. It is the only place to get early morning coffee and it was frequently out. When I complained to the food maonager he assured me it would be taken care of but the next morning it was out again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
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