Shanghai is a beautiful city and even more beautiful at night. I would compare the ability to use public transportation (Subway) as easy as it is in NYC, with most everything (street signs, subway communication) written in Chinese as well ... Read More
Shanghai is a beautiful city and even more beautiful at night. I would compare the ability to use public transportation (Subway) as easy as it is in NYC, with most everything (street signs, subway communication) written in Chinese as well as English. Most commercial retail, hotels, and landmarks spoke enough English to be able to communicate our needs. We had one good day of sunshine and was able to get out and enjoy a full day of the local sites, the second day was affected by the approaching Typhoons with heavy rain. This didn’t stop us from getting out and visiting a nearby historic Garden/Temple. The thing we quickly learned in Shanghai, is that there are no such things as being courteous, having personal space,waiting your place in line, and speaking at a level that can be heard 50ft away. It was basically a survival of the fittest. Another thing we learned is that selfie sticks are used everywhere, so be prepared to duck as the person walking in front of you decides to take a selfie in the middle of the sidewalk or street cross walks.
Cruise onboard the RCCL Quantum of the Seas
The day before we departed, we received an email from RCCL (Royal Carribean) that informed us that the 2 Typhoons were headed for Japan, so there would be a change to the cruise itinerary.
If you remember my comment earlier about not being respectful about waiting in line, then you can possibly imagine what the luggage drop off and the boarding process were like - uncontrolled chaos. Being that RCCL has been embarking from Shanghai for several months, then it’s very evident that they have much to improve on the boarding process. If it weren’t for the fact that we have boarding priority with RCCL it could have been much more stressful.
Once onboard the chaos continued but were able to immediately go to our stateroom, which was crisp, clean, and very comfortable. The new layout, despite it’s appearance, allowed plenty of room for our clothes and a large flat screen television. The downside was the television only had 2 English stations (One was Dreamworks, the other was a movie channel) and anything you wanted to watch on demand was $6-$12. This was a FAIL for RCCL in my opinion.
So, we decide to go grab some lunch in the Windjammer and you would have thought it was the last food after the apocalypse. No order, complete chaos, people reaching over your plate to get to the food that we have been waiting our turn to get to, and then finally, no place to sit. Apparently, the Chinese do not believe it eating and then making space for others in the dinning room and it appears that everyone is related in that people will just come and sit at your table and try to take it over. We may have taken it as a friendly gesture, but what were we thinking. They didn't even speak English. Finally they started making announcements to please enjoy the food, but once you are done to please leave. I’ve been on 23 cruises and I have never seen lines to get into the Windjammer to eat any meal, but now I have!
So let me go back and remind you that we did receive a notification of the change in itinerary one day before boarding, however we received notice in our room (which is on your television), that due to the change, we could get a full refund if we had decided to cancel, but this was not in the email and a little too late. They did give a partial refund ($700/stateroom) due to the change. The new itinerary was two new ports in South Korea, so we were willing to adapt, however each port only offered 3-4 excursions for ~2700 people.
Day 1 (at sea), was raining most of the day, and the indoor activities were mostly limited to shopping extravaganzas, bingo, trivia, and some ship featured activities (bumper cars, roller skating) however, the ones that we tried to do were already full or had an hour wait for a 30 min experience. Day 2 (at sea), more rain and more shopping extravaganzas, more lines to do ship feature activities, bingo, and trivia, more rude people. Day 3 (at sea). after more of nothing to do, trying to get a table for lunch and watching people fight for food in the Windjammer, this was the day we made the decision to book our return flights home at the first port as we were beyond the rude passengers and limited activities.
Day 4(at sea), the sun came out so we were able to do the NorthStar, however the Flowrider had a sign stating no more availability for the day and the iFly (skydive tube) had a sign that said it was booked for the rest of the cruise.
When we met for the debarkation we were not alone. There were a total of 16 that were getting off, some for medical reasons, but most due to the displeasure with the cruise.
Let me clarify that the staff onboard were extremely friendly, polite, and some even made comments that the Asia Cruises are NOTHING like any other cruises they have even experienced from their perspective, referring to the passengers.
Amazingly beautiful with mix of modern flair and technology for artwork, large touch screen monitors throughout to help find your way around the ships (including room #s). The Bionic Bar can pump up the jam while shaking up a cocktail. Shops are upscale for those that like to buy duty free items.
The rooms were spacious and had extra storage with flat screen TVs. Interior rooms have a large monitor (approx 3x4) on the inside wall that is to represent a large window outside (and it’s from a realtime camera), which makes you feel that your not in an inside cabin, as much as when it was just a wall.
Royal IQ application and VOOM internet
The new Royal IQ, which can be accessed from your mobile device, television, laptop, or any of the many tablets throughout the ship is a great new innovation on the new and upgraded ships with VOOM, high speed Internet. This was a life saver in that we were able to keep up with emails and communicate via FB and it wasn’t a cable connections, but just a few steps below that :) The downside was that being out of the US proximity, several websites were not accessible from “overseas.”
The Royal IQ app was nice to book reservations for dinning, however it also allowed you to book other activities and by day 2-3, everything was booked for the week for most all of the exciting additions to this Genesis class ship (NorthStar, iFly, Flowrider). There are many stations around the ship to use this but you can also use your television, mobile device, or laptop.
Very innovative use of space. You can play basketball, soccer, volleyball, rollerskating and bumper cars all in the same arena while enjoying a hotdog from the SportPlex hotdog stand. The second floor is just on the outside of the open area where you can watch the activities while playing XBOX, table tennis, or fuzzball rain/or shine and with a cocktail.
Approx 40% were shopping sales on the Promenade in the middle so it was like trying to maneuver through a shopping mall on Dec 24th. Usually 3 movies per day (2 outside day/evening and 1 inside in one of the lounges. Several trivia games at a bar, and karaoke. Overall, the activities line up was not attractive to us.
We ate mostly at Chops. Where it used to be one price for anything on the menu, they have now started charging an additional fee of $18-$30 (in addition to $30/pp fee) for lobster or prime aged cuts >12 oz. The 10 oz NY strip I got, looked like it was the same steak served in the dining room. The atmosphere was nothing compared to fine dining by our standards. Kids running around and playing hide and seek around other guests, loud conversations, people stretching out at the tables.
We tried Jamie’s Italian one night. This was not our typical Italian Restaurant. It was more of an Italian pasta with seafood infusion served with baked french fries. Still full of small children running in between and around tables while parents eat their meals, disregarding the fact that this restaurant is not a playground and that other people may be trying to enjoy a nice dinner. RCCL did nothing to stop or diminish this behavior.
Windjammer lunch and breakfast:
Complete chaos and like a feeding frenzy that would scare a great white shark away. The food was not that good when we could find something of the non asian cuisine. (Note: in the chinese culture, they don’t believe in deboning anything prior to cooking, so the chopped up chicken was full of bones) RCCL was not encouraging passengers to wash there hand or use the Purrell dispensers. You would think they learned from several other stomach virus outbreaks on previous cruises.
We disembarked at the first port (day 5) and returned home due to the new itinerary, limited onboard activity options (which was affected by the passengers and ability to book reservations your entire cruise activities on day 1), and the culture of the majority of the onboard passengers.
The spa staff were extremely nice, however they didn’t speak much English. I had a 75 min massage that lasted 57 mins from the time I was escorted back until the time I was presented the bill. The “deep tissue” was not so deep despite several requests to press harder. The music in the room cut off about mid way so the sound of the gym with treadmills and running track above became more apparent. They masseuse said she couldn’t control the music from the rooms. When I addressed the issue at the desk, they offered to take me back in and give me 10 more mins of massage vs crediting my bill the difference of a 55 min massage.
We only wanted to see the Cirq style show and we could not get reservations to any of the 3 nights at sea it was showing.
One pool outside with a child splash wading pool next to it.
One indoor solarium pool that was very nice especially during the many rainy days. Then the front Solarium that is restricted to 16hr or older, but didn’t keep them from allowing their children to play in the pool, and was not enforced by the RCCL staff. So basically there are no Adults Only areas.
Royal Carribean is built an incredible ship with lots of features that need to be tweaked in order to allow people to enjoy their cruise without having to plan everything the first day and then be held to a time schedule in order to make use of all the amenities. After all, isn’t that the purpose of a cruise is to relax and not have to worry about the time. Great use of space for multipurpose events indoor and out. The staff were always smiling and willing to help with questions and issues, however there were some areas where they didn’t understand the concerns due to language barrier.
So to summarize, we would not recommend traveling all the way to China, just for a cruise as the itinerary is subject to change and there isn’t a lot of options to go in the vicinity of Shanghai. Be prepared for the loud talking, splitting in public areas (and from down deep in the lungs, people!), cutting in front of you, and not being respectful, to the point that it makes our society look civilized. Read Less