BACKGROUND INFORMATION I am a 58 year old who has taken four cruises in my life. I travelled with my wife on this cruise and this was our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia. We did not choose this itinerary, just the ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION I am a 58 year old who has taken four cruises in my life. I travelled with my wife on this cruise and this was our first trip to the Hawaiian Islands and French Polynesia. We did not choose this itinerary, just the ship as it was the perfect way for us to return to Australia from a Round-the-World trip. While this review may seem overly critical, I think it is important to report the good with the bad so that is what I have tried to do. The cruise concept was good, but it wasn't the sensation that I've come to expect from Royal Caribbean. Overall, I don't think I can honestly recommend this ship.
EMBARKATION Embarkation from Vancouver was smooth. We arrived at the pier around 12.00 noon and we were able to check in quickly. The process was organized but not as quick as previous cruises on which I've sailed. The staterooms were not ready until 2:00, but everyone was free to explore the ship. The Windjammer buffet was set up with a buffet lunch so most of the passengers were congregating there (it quickly became unpleasantly crowded as you can imagine). Luggage delivery was efficient; all of our bags had arrived at our cabin door by 2.15.
CREW / SERVICE The crew was among the friendliest we have come across, with the exception of the Guest Services staff members. The majority were always cheerful and saying hello. Every crew member I encountered was smiling, friendly and displayed a genuine eagerness to help, with the exception of Guest Services who did nothing about genuine grievances, except to promise action - which never came!
While the service was not quite as polished as, say, a Celebrity or a Holland America ship, we found it to be acceptable.
Service in the dining room during dinner was slow and unprofessional at times (forgotten desserts, missing soup spoons, and very sluggish service) but overall it was average. Stateroom attendant service was excellent. Our steward quickly learned our schedule and accommodated us perfectly! !
STATEROOMS While the staterooms were dated, they were comfortable and ours was kept clean. We stayed in a Junior Suite, having been upgraded from deck seven. The stateroom itself was very spacious and met our expectation. That was until the ships engines stared and the stateroom began to severely vibrate.
The cruise was for a period of thirty days and the stateroom vibrated severely for the majority of the cruise unless the ship was in port or moored. In total the ship vibrated for all the thirty days with the exception of three nights and eleven periods ranging from one to eleven hours.
The vibration was so severe that we finally arranged for another cabin to sleep in as the bed was vibrating as much as two inches and sleep was almost impossible.., We took to sleeping while the ship was docked or anchored. The issue was reported to Cruiseco and to RCI Guest Services but between the two nothing was achieved until we were allocated a sleeping cabin after leaving Honolulu. Our Eighth Deck balcony suite was spacious, well laid out and very clean. We had plenty of storage space and there were lots of little cubby holes hidden all over the room. Beds had nice, crisp and fresh new bedding and were comfortable. A hair dryer was provided as was a pre-stocked mini refrigerator. The refrigerator had none of those "you touch it you bought it" sensors so you could put your own items in there without worry; this came in handy during the cruise.
We also had a large fold-out couch and two sofa chairs. It was the nicest sofa I've ever had on any cruise. The balcony was adequate however there was a lot of rust and peeling paint. The balcony was equipped with two comfortable chairs and a small side table.
The dividers between cabins weren't the most private either, as you can just be standing on your balcony and see your neighbors. If you peered around the side, you can see into other staterooms. I know this is an issue on most balcony cabins, but these seemed the least private of any ship.
DINING Let me preface this by saying that the food on Royal Caribbean overall has vastly been improved since my last sailing with them. That being said, I still think it has some of the most average food of any major cruise line. The food in the dining room is much better presented than the food offered in the Windjammer Cafe, room service, or at the Solarium snack bar, however this was limited in choice if you were allergic to or did not like seafood.
Edelweiss Main Dining Room menu in the main dining room at dinner was limited if you were not interested in seafood and duck! So much so that after the first leg of our cruise from Vancouver to Hawaii we ate in the Windjammer Cafe where the food was as good, just not presented on a plate, and the atmosphere more relaxed and friendly As others have reported, we also felt our chairs / table vibrating during dinner. We were seated on deck four and this happened on most nights while enroute to Hawaii. It didn't bother me, but it did feel like you were getting a nice massage with dinner!
The cost of the wine was outrageous, with bottles of Australian wine cost as much as five times the price the are sold on a retail basis in Australia. While we all are adult enough to realize that cruise ships are there to make a profit the cost of wine was a blatant rip off, especially with all the sublime threats made concerning the bringing of your own wine or liquor on board!
Windjammer Cafe: At dinner time, the Windjammer would serve some of the same items that were for dinner in the Edelweiss Dining Room. The quality was as good as that in the dining room, just not presented on a plate.
Breakfast selections varied slightly each morning, but you could always find fruit, bacon, sausage, hot oatmeal, a good variety of cereal, a made to order omelette station, and a nice selection of breads and pastries. Juices were available at breakfast.
ENTERTAINMENT Average! Some of the headline shows were good but overall it left a lot to be desired with repeat acts being presented that were far below average quality. While the showroom was really nice, the entertainment was on the whole the worst I have ever experienced on a supposedly First Class Cruise Ship.. There was no variety and most nights I just felt so bad for the ships entertainers. They were giving it their all, but it just wasn't very good. I guess when a ship is full of non-lively passengers; you'd expect the entertainment to be very, very low-key.
SHIP The ship is really showing her age. We had a balcony cabin and the entire balcony had rust spots and chipped paint. The railing was worn and needed to be re-varnished. To their credit, Royal Caribbean did have painters and maintenance workers at work while during the cruise, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done. The rooms and common areas are dated. The showroom was well laid out with seats were reasonable. It wasn't a terrible ship, but it was probably the worst I've ever been on. I do not recommend choosing this ship for your trip.
DISEMBARKING Very organized and reasonably quick! We were off the ship by 8.00 a.m. The color coded tag system worked great and they were very careful not to crowd the gangway, and it was fairly painless.
As a nice touch, the ship had the main dining room open and the Windjammer Cafe open the morning of arrival, and it was much appreciated. We were able to enjoy a leisurely breakfast before our numbers were called. It was so much better than having to sit around and do nothing. Claiming our luggage was easy and fast. A taxi stand outside provides for quick travel.
OVERALL This was the most disappointing cruise I have taken. Having paid almost A$17,000 for the thirty day cruise I was not pleased with the Cruiseco representative on board from Vancouver to Hawaii or the Royal Caribbean International Guest Services staff who did nothing to alleviate our stress and anxiety caused by a Junior Suite that severely vibrated for almost all of the cruise. We did receive some help from the second Cruiseco representative but the inside cabin allocated to sleep in was claustrophobic and the bed was very poor.
Since returning to Australia we have raised the issue with RCI on two occasions and I must say they are consistent with their response to any grievance - THERE HASN"T BEEN ONE!!!
My Wife and I honestly believe that the cruise was a waste of money and will certainly never sail with Royal Caribbean International again!! Read Less